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BlogBritish Open Preview and Picks

British Open

July 13th – 16th, 2016

Royal Troon Golf Club

Troon, Scotland

Par: 71 / Yardage:

Purse: $9.59 million

with $1,734,030 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Zach Johnson

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 91 of the top 100 and 48 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with two top-50 players not in the field, #16 Brooks Koepka and #34 Daniel Berger.  Of those between 51 and 100, those not in the field are #67 Jaco Van Zyl, #88 Charles Howell III, #91 Ian Poulter, #95 Jon Curran, #98 Jason Bohn, #99 Bradley Dredge and #100 Kevin Streelman

The field includes 23 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2016.  Those players not in the field are #19 Daniel Berger and #21 Brooks Koepka.

The field includes 23 players in the top 25 on this year’s PGA Tour money list with Berger and Koepka the only players not competing.

The field includes 25 players that have won 30 of the 35 events on the PGA Tour this year: Emiliano Grillo (Frys.Com); Smylie Kaufman (Shriners Hospitals); Justin Thomas (CIMB Classic); Russell Knox (WGC-HSBC Champions); Graeme McDowell (OHL Classic at Mayakoba); Kevin Kisner (McGladrey Classic); Jordan Spieth (Hyundai T of C, Dean & DeLuca); Fabian Gomez (Sony Open from Hawaii); Jason Dufner (Humana Challenge); Brandt Snedeker (Farmers Insurance); Hideki Matsuyama (WM Phoenix); Bubba Watson (Northern Trust); Adam Scott (Honda & WGC-Cadillac); Charl Schwartzel (Valspar Championship); Jason Day (Palmer, WGC-Dell Match Play & Players); Tony Finau (Puerto Rico); Jim Herman (Shell Houston); Danny Willett (Masters); Branden Grace (RBC Heritage); Charley Hoffman (Valero Texas); James Hahn (Wells Fargo) Sergio Garcia (Byron Nelson); William McGirt (Memorial), Dustin Johnson (U.S. Open & WGC Bridgestone) and Greg Chalmers (Barracuda)

Those winners not in the field are Peter Malnati (Sanderson Farms); Vaughn Taylor (AT&T Pebble Beach), Brian Stuard (Zurich), Daniel Berger (FedEx St. Jude) and Billy Hurley III (Quick Loans National).

The field includes 16 past Open champions:  Zach Johnson (2015), Rory McIlroy (2014), Phil Mickelson (2013), Ernie Els (2012 & ’02), Darren Clarke (2011),Louis Oosthuizen (2010), Padraig Harrington (2007 & ’08), Todd Hamilton (2004), Ben Curtis (2003), David Duval (2001), Paul Lawrie (1999), Mark O’Meara (1998), Justin Leonard (1997), John Daly (1995), Mark Calcavecchia (1989) and Sandy Lyle (1985).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the British Open field is our performance chart listed by average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the British Open in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the British Open.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

**NOTE**

One thing to look for is our new GOLFstats IQ.  For those that play in fantasy golf it’s a perfect way to help you pick those players in Draft Kings and Victiv games.  You can customize the list of those in the tournaments, to look back a couple or many years of tournament stats and you can go back a couple or ten weeks prior to the tournament.  On top of that, all the stats are fully sortable to help you pick your six players, we even give you their value for the week to help you chose.

That’s GOLFstats IQ, give it a try and tell us what you think of it

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Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the British Open

Player Scottish Open WGC – Bridgestone French Open Barracuda Quicken Loans BMW Intern. U.S. Open FedEx St. Jude Lyoness Open Memorial Nordea Masters Dean & DeLuca BMW PGA
Dustin Johnson
(480.67 pts)
DNP Win
(198)
DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(176)
5
(46.67)
DNP 3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP
Scott Piercy
(283.33 pts)
DNP 2
(150)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(133.33)
DNP DNP T69
(0)
DNP T67
(0)
DNP
Jason Day
(217 pts)
DNP T3
(135)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T8
(66.67)
DNP DNP T27
(15.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Henrik Stenson
(215.67 pts)
T13
(37)
DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(132)
WD
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP
Matt Kuchar
(213.67 pts)
DNP T3
(135)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T46
(5.33)
DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP T6
(20)
DNP
Andy Sullivan
(209 pts)
T6
(60)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP DNP T21
(29)
T23
(36)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T22
(14)
Alex Noren
(197.5 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP 8
(50)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP T43
(3.5)
Jordan Spieth
(196.33 pts)
DNP T3
(135)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T37
(17.33)
DNP DNP T57
(0)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP
Nicolas Colsaerts
(182 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP T22
(28)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 3
(60)
DNP T22
(14)
Chris Wood
(181 pts)
DNP DNP T11
(39)
DNP DNP DNP T23
(36)
DNP T6
(40)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(66)
Gary Woodland
(175.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(100)
T21
(29)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Branden Grace
(174.33 pts)
T29
(21)
T10
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T5
(93.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jim Furyk
(171 pts)
DNP T42
(12)
DNP DNP T21
(29)
DNP T2
(133.33)
DNP DNP T52
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Sergio Garcia
(163.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T5
(70)
T5
(93.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
William McGirt
(158.17 pts)
DNP T7
(82.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP T47
(1)
DNP
Tyrrell Hatton
(154.5 pts)
2
(100)
DNP T33
(17)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T20
(20)
DNP T7
(27.5)
Francesco Molinari
(154 pts)
DNP DNP 2
(100)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP DNP T34
(10.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T55
(0)
Charl Schwartzel
(152.83 pts)
DNP T7
(82.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T23
(36)
DNP DNP T11
(26)
DNP T25
(8.33)
DNP
David Lingmerth
(152.5 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T7
(82.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 12
(50.67)
DNP DNP T27
(15.33)
DNP DNP T22
(14)
Martin Kaymer
(151.83 pts)
T13
(37)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP T37
(17.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T7
(27.5)
Brendan Steele
(147.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(70)
T39
(11)
DNP T15
(46.67)
DNP DNP T20
(20)
DNP DNP DNP
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
(147 pts)
T21
(29)
DNP 4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP T32
(24)
DNP DNP T52
(0)
DNP DNP T22
(14)
Phil Mickelson
(144.83 pts)
T13
(37)
T27
(34.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
T2
(66.67)
DNP T20
(20)
DNP DNP DNP
Matteo Manassero
(142.67 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T13
(37)
T46
(5.33)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP CUT
(-5)
Shane Lowry
(139.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T36
(21)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(133.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-5)

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the British Open

Player Scottish Open WGC – Bridgestone French Open Barracuda Quicken Loans BMW Intern. U.S. Open FedEx St. Jude Lyoness Open Memorial Nordea Masters Dean & DeLuca BMW PGA
Haydn Porteous
(-35 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T74
(0)
DNP CUT
(-5)
Kristoffer Broberg
(-31.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T74
(0)
DNP CUT
(-5)
Soomin Lee
(-30 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T53
(0)
DNP T67
(0)
Miguel A. Jimenez
(-25 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
Jamie Donaldson
(-22.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
T26
(16)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
Tommy Fleetwood
(-20 pts)
T62
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 69
(0)
Ryan Evans
(-16.67 pts)
T54
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T59
(0)
DNP DNP
Darren Clarke
(-15 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
Nathan Holman
(-14.17 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T46
(6)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T37
(6.5)
Yuta Ikeda
(-13.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

What a drastic change, on Tuesday evening I was sweating my butt off at the Washington Nationals game. In the two days since I went to London where the temperature was a perfect 75 degrees to now Troon where it’s cold and raining. I have seen the sun sparingly and have been told not to expect to see the sun until I arrive home in Washington a week from now.

But that is the allure of the Open Championship, something that is different than what we normally see in the states. Last year at St. Andrews the weather was raining most of the week, and it was cold. In the five or six years before, the weather at the Open was like being in San Diego, picture perfect. But with the kind of weather that will be with us this year, it makes this week fun to watch as the players will have to show that they can survive cold, rainy and windy conditions.

So what’s attractive for this year?

Lot’s of storylines.  First, you have the storyline of how Dustin Johnson has reached a new level in his game and now is hunted by everyone.  He is on a crystal pedestal that could shatter at any moment as the man to beat.  We saw this last year with Jordan Spieth as he had to manage all of the people from media to fans that wanted a piece of him.  I can say this, every major has that one person on that pedestal, and it’s hard to win, you want to be like Zach Johnson who flies under the radar screen and on Sunday just pops in to snatch glory.  On Johnson, we didn’t spot him today supposedly he has spent the last week in Ireland.  He played Portmarnock on Friday before heading just north to have rounds at The Island Golf Club on Saturday and Sunday.  No matter what, once he lands at Troon he will be the man to beat and will have to answer a lot of questions from now until he tees off on Thursday morning.

What about Jason?  He spent Saturday and Sunday at Troon getting ready for Thursday.  He is stinging a bit from taking a one-shot lead into the weekend at Akron and not getting the job done.  He also has the memories from St. Andrews of coming a shot away from being in the playoff and would like to lift the Claret Jug on Sunday.  “I’m just trying to get as good as I can, and the only way to do that is to learn from failure, and the way you look at it is not in a negative way,” Day told the media on Monday. “You have to look at it in a positive light.  So does that mean he is ready to go?  I would say yes, he is in the right frame, and the course is good for him so don’t worry about him he will be in contention over the weekend.

What about Rory?   Last year it was a disappointment not to defend his title and watch the tournament because of his leg injury in the weeks before the Open. In a span of two years since winning the PGA Championship in 2014, things have changed.  Two years ago he was the undisputed player in golf, winning two majors in a row.  But since his win at Valhalla, he is not only number one but has fallen to #4 behind Day, Johnson and Spieth.  McIlroy knows he has to win, and we could see that the pressure bothered him when he missed the cut last month at the U.S. Open at Oakmont.  Now for him the course is perfect, he can overpower Troon and the weakest part of his game now the putter, could be ok on the flat, slow greens of Troon.  Things are perfect for him except for the weather.  Rory hasn’t shown that he can play in high winds and rain, and we will have to see if he can handle that.  That will be the challenge for him, as he looks to win his fifth major this week at Troon.

What about Jordan?  The big news about him today was his withdrawal from the Olympics.  He joins Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy as another top-notch player that won’t be at the Olympics.  It’s sad that they have all cited Zika as the problem, but frankly, we haven’t seen any women withdraw.  The fact is that these players don’t want to travel to Brazil, they have lot’s of money and fame and just don’t think it’s worth the bother.  That will all come up a month from now, we have to look and see if this will be a good week for Jordan.  He comes into the week after a poor finish at Firestone and Oakmont.  He won at Colonial two months ago, but after what happened at Augusta where he blew a four-shot back nine lead, he has to win a major again.  On paper, Troon doesn’t fit Spieth’s game, but he is a lot like Justin Leonard in his prime, and Justin won at Troon so we shouldn’t be surprised if Jordan wins this week.  A lot of what Spieth does comes down to the putter, so if he putts well, everything else will line up.  Still, there is one stat that bothers me about Jordan, he ranks 165th in greens hit.  You just don’t win majors with that kind of iron game into the greens.  Last year Jordan was 49th in greens in regulation, you can win majors ranked 49th, not 165th.  He was about the same at the Masters and we all saw how this came back to bite him during the final round.  So it will be fun to watch him this week

What about Troon?  The course looks great and green.  In a way, I have to think that the R&A like that the weather will not be good this week.  I believe that if it were a bright sunny week of golf with no wind like it was at Muirfield in 2013 or Hoylake in 2014 Troon would get torn apart by the players.  The course is too short and needs the wind to protect it.  One myth about the course, if your not under par by the time you reach the 8th tee, you are dead.  The back nine could play two to three shots tougher, and it will be interesting to see.  One thing to watch, the typical wind is from the west, from the Irish Sea.  But the forecast for Friday is for the winds to shift from the south so the course will play opposite, the front nine will be tough, and the back nine will be easy.

No matter, we are all looking forward to it all.

Championship information:

The British Open traces its roots back to October 17, 1860, at the Links at Prestwick. Eight professionals vied at the inaugural Open Championship, making three trips around the 12-hole golf course at Prestwick. Willie Park Sr.’s 174 gave him a two-shot win over Old Tom Morris. The original prize was the Challenge Belt. It’s interesting to note that a month later on November 6th, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected as the 16th President of the United States.

In 1873, Tom Kidd’s victory at St. Andrews was monumental. It was the first-Open Championship held at St. Andrews, and with Kidd’s win, he took home the first-ever Claret Jug. The jug was manufactured at a cost of 30 pounds by Mackay Cunningham & Co. of Edinburgh. Now to put that in prospective, 30 pounds today would be worth about 50 dollars. Not much money in today’s world but here is a better view of it. In searching the value of the British pound in 1860, it had the purchasing power of about 63.10 today. So if you multiply 63.10, 30 times you get 1,893 pounds which mean in today’s money they paid about $3,000 for makeup the original Claret Jug.

By 1892, The Open Championship had moved to a 72-hole format, 36-holes over two days. With the changes to Open Championship format, play began to increase. As play increased, a cut was instituted, beginning in 1898, to limit the number of competitors over the final 36 holes. The increase in competition led to a decrease in scoring. Jack White’s 296 in the 1904 Open Championship marked the first time a competitor shot an aggregate score under 300. His final round 68 also set a record for the lowest round by a golfer. The Open Championship went on a six-year hiatus beginning in 1914 due to the outbreak of World War I. When the tournament resurfaced in 1920, it did so under new ownership. The R&A was entrusted with the task of managing the event. To this day, the R&A still administers the championship.

The R&A quickly installed changes to The Open Championship. The event spanned three days, 18 holes on each of the first two days and 36 on the final day. Also, The R&A began charging admission to see the event. A year later, The R&A began to produce a replica Claret Jug that is awarded to each year’s champion. The original jug resides in the clubhouse of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club. The suspension of the Open from 1939 to 1946 due to World War II represents the longest gap between Open Championships. Sam Snead won the 1946 U.S. Open at St. Andrews, defeating Bobby Locke.

The 1955 Open marked a new era for the event. BBC broadcasted the tournament on television for the first time. By 1966, the Open Championship was being played over four days, 18 holes each day. ABC, for the first time, broadcasted a live feed of the event in America in 1982. In 1977, Regional Qualifying around England and Scotland was introduced on a permanent basis, to help organize qualifying in which there were two levels, first local qualifying and then moving on the week of the championship. It had been an experiment at the 1926 Open but abandoned after just one year. In 1980, the Open Championship was moved to its current format, 18 holes over four days, with the tournament concluding on Sunday. A decade later, in 1990, the event set an attendance record with over 208,000 spectators showing up to watch the tournament at St. Andrews. One more significant change in 2005 saw international qualifying, with different sites set up in Australia, South Africa, Asia, America and for the European players to try and qualify in their country instead of having to fly off to England. Today things are a bit different; there are two ways you can get in. One is either winning an important event, being high up the world rankings, being a top winner on either the PGA Tour, European Tour, South African Tour and Asian Tour. Or you can get through in qualifying tournaments in which there are nine events in which the top players for that week can get into the Open and five qualifying sites, one in Thailand and the other four in England just two weeks ago.

The 2016 Open Championship will be the 145th installment of the tournament. It will be held at Royal Troon for the 9th time. What is impressive is that the last six winners starting with Arnold Palmer in 1962 have been American’s, so will this streak continue this year?

Course information:

  • Royal Troon Golf Club
  • Troon, Scotland
  • 7,190 yards     Par 36-35–71

Royal Troon was founded in 1878 as a five hole course following a meeting in a local pub by some of the locals of Troon. In was George Strath, Troon’s pro who was responsible for the original design. Willie Fernie and James Braid later modified and extended the layout. It was first used in 1923 as an Open course and was very successful. In the years before it was overshadowed by Prestwick, the course that had already hosted 23 Opens and was next to Troon. But your couldn’t add more yardage to Prestwick and by 1925 the course was obsolete for the Open Championship. So in a way, Troon succeeded because of Prestwick’s downfall.

The course measures to 7,190 and in reality, the yardage doesn’t matter, because the wind changes the aspect of the course. The opening holes are easy with a series of par fours running down the Firth of Clyde. The 6th was the longest par 5 in Open Championship history until the 14th at St. Andrews took that over. Still, at 601 yards it can be reached on windy days and has always played easily. The 7th goes inland and sets up for the short 8th, only 123 yards, but if you miss the 2,000 square foot green and land in a bunker, par is tough. After that, you have the 9th hole that is still downwind. Then you turn direction and head back on the back nine which has eight holes that will be into the prevailing wind. One of the hardest holes on the course is the 490 yard 11th. In 2004 it was the most difficult hole on the course and the 5th hardest for the year on the PGA Tour playing to a 4.413 average. Only 35 birdies were made on the hole compared to 38 doubles and 13 “others.” What makes the hole tough is the out-of-bounds on the right as an active railway line runs the length of the hole. You will see on television all the train traffic on that line that has a way of disturbing the players. Another tough element about Troon is the 96 pot bunkers that are on the course. These are bunkers that are close to impossible to get out of and are an instant penalty. One other thing making the holes hard is that most of the greens are higher than the fairway, and if you miss the green the ball will roll off into either a pot bunker or give a player a tough pitch to the hole. Yes, Troon is a challenge.

Let’s take a look at key stats that are important for those playing at the Open Championship:

This is based on the most vital stats from Royal Troon, based on data from the 2004 British Open and using data from all the players in the field with stats from 2016.
Royal Troon has been a staple of the British Open rota; this will be the 9th time the Open has been played there. Since it didn’t appear on the rota till 1923, that means that the R&A has held the Open at Troon once a decade. Another oddity, an Englishman won the first Open in 1923 and a South African won the next in 1950, with the last six since 1962 won by an American.
Troon is a traditional links course; it incorporates the natural landscape with the added hazard of wind off the Irish Sea. The secret to playing Troon well is to capitalize on the first seven holes which typically play downwind. After that making birdies are slim with the last six holes played into the teeth of the wind. What surprises me about Troon is that the R&A hasn’t made any drastic changes to the course. In 1997, 20 years ago the course played at 7,079 yards or about 111 yards less than this year’s yardage of 7,190. In 2004, 12 years ago, the course played at 7,175 yards, four yards less than today’s yardage. Now I know what the deal is, nine at of every ten days you will have a 15 to 20 mph wind blowing out of the west and the sea, which is the reason the course is tough. That and the fact that the course is littered with 96 pot bunkers that are an automatic one shot penalty is the reason that they don’t tear up this course. In 2004 the course played to a 73.21 average, it was the 2nd hardest course on the PGA Tour that year. Now the rough is up, I think there is more this year than in 2004 (maybe because it’s been raining every day in Scotland for the last three weeks). So let’s just say that even with 12 years of advancements to equipment, club knowledge, and natural fit bodies the course should play the same as in 2004.

So if the weather is so important, what does it look like for the week?

Rain, rain and more rain with the wind that averages 20 mph. No way anyone overpowers this course and shoots lights out unless he gets a bit lucky and has a calm three or four hours. Again it will come down to the luck of the draw, some will get lucky and get that one good patch while others will experience miserable weather every day.
Right now the forecast says that Thursday will be the best day of them all with partly cloudy skies and wind blowing just 15 mph. But a front moves in and Friday, Saturday and Sunday will have lashing rain. Look for winds on Saturday to be 30 mph with gust up to 40 MPH. So it will be fun to watch from your couch. For Sunday again showers with 20 mph winds. The big thing will be a shift in wind conditions after getting accustomed to a west wind, guess what on Friday? For the rest of the weekend, the wind will come out of the south and southwest. So that means the course will drastically change, instead of the first seven holes playing easy and the back nine playing brutal, holes 1 through 7 and nine will be hard and holes 10, 11, 13 through 18 will play easy.
Now for this year it’s been wet leading up to the Open as the area has had three weeks of steady rain. Shall I say when you see pictures of Troon, it will be a beautiful green that also means the rough will be tough to get out of.

So will every phase of a players game be examined at Troon? From tee to green yes, it will be a tough challenge. But the greens are flat with very little undulation, and they will be slow by PGA Tour standards, so this week will be a good week for weak putters.

So in looking at our four categories, our first is Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green. This is going to be the most important item and frankly, go to the top and sort through it, I would say that someone in the top-30 will win this week. Now in 2004 they didn’t have Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green, so we have to look at several stats. First in 2005 at Troon, it ranked 31st in driving distance for the year, it was 2nd in driving accuracy and 4th in Greens hit. As for the winner Todd Hamilton (who could be a poor example), he was 10th in driving distance, T-25th in driving accuracy and T-19th in greens hit. (now runner-up Ernie Els, a much better example was 4th in driving distance, T-10th in driving accuracy and T-6th in greens hit).
Our second stat is putting inside of 10 feet; that is important because Troon has some of the easiest greens in the world to putt. Easy greens bring a lot more players into the equation, the only way to separate them will be to see who makes all those putts inside 10 feet, if a player can make all of them then he will do well this week. Winner Hamilton was 14th in putting average in 2004, but you have to say that he is normally a poor putter (finished the year T-84th in putting average). Our third stat is scrambling, lot’s of players will miss greens at Troon and will have to get it up and down. In 2004 the course ranked 7th in scrambling while Hamilton was 11th. Our fourth category is birdies, in 2004 the course ranked 2nd in hardest of making birdies as only 2.52 were made by the field for the week. Hamilton was T-4th in birdie average making 4 per round.

So you can see Troon will be very special, and you can eliminate about 100 of the 156 players, I see only about 56 players having any chance of winning.
Now remember the British Open is an international event that not only allows players to qualify as over half the field has to qualify, but there are players from all over the world, so this chart only has 74 players on it. That’s because the other 82 players don’t play full time on the PGA Tour and have not played enough rounds to qualify for stats.

*Strokes Gained tee-to-green: Course may have only been 25th hardest on tour, but you need to hit it long and straight along with hitting lot’s of greens. So this is important to find a player that will do this

*Putting inside 10 feet: Very easy, counts every putt from ten feet in to see who makes the most.

*Scrambling: The percent of time a player misses the green in regulation, but still makes par or better.

*Birdie Average: The number of birdies made during a round.

Players from this year’s field with stats from 2016:

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

For the rest of the players, hit this link:

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the British Open:

  • In the past 24 years its been won by grinders like Zach Johnson, Mark Calcavecchia, Tom Lehman, Darren Clarke and Stewart Cink who may not look pretty but knows how to place shots in the right spots. There have also been superstars like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, who were expected to win. And then you had your superstar that wasn’t expected to win in Phil Mickelson, do the job. Its been won by great tour players like Ernie Els, David Duval and Justin Leonard who capped off their PGA Tour careers with their first win in a major. But unfortunately, the British Open has been won by guys that fell out of the limelight right after their wins. Ian Baker-Finch, Mark O’Meara, Paul Lawrie, David Duval, Todd Hamilton and Ben Curtis all come to mind, since there win they have fallen from grace and have struggled with their games.
  • The field has the best golf has to offer, 91 of the top-100 in the world rankings.  Just about every big player in the world will be at Troon this week so there are a lot of players who could win it.

Key stat for the winner:

  • Length and brute strength will play a major role this week.  The longer you drive it, the more of an advantage you will have.  With thick rough, look for more players to be timid and leaving themselves with a lot of yardage into the greens.
  • Putting is going to be a premium this week.  Everybody is making a big deal that the last six winners at Troon have been Americans, a better stat is that the last six of the last seven winners at Troon have been a great putter (except for Todd Hamilton) that excelled on the greens of Troon.  I feel that the winner this week, whether American or not will be a great putter, that seems to be a key to winning at Troon.
  • Be able to play in all conditions.  For the practice rounds, the course has been playing tough, but they are getting used to the west wind.  Know the wind could change starting on Friday and come from the south if that happens it will take some patience for players to make the change in their strategy.
  • If the wind blows, as some forecasters are calling for this weekend, it will be survival of the fitness, a bit like last year.   I know a marquee player will step up this week, just like last year it could be a Zach Johnson type.
  • Scrambler. Green are a bit small, and a player must have the skills to get it up and down from off the green or from greenside bunkers.
  • A player that doesn’t hit it into bunkers.  One of the key stats for Tiger Woods win in 2000 and Justin Leonard’s victory at Troon in 1997 is that they didn’t hit it in a bunker during the 72 holes.  If that gets repeated this week, that person will win the Claret Jug.
  • Now, what does all of this mean?  Look for a Sergio Garcia or a Henrik Stenson to shine.  They are two players that could get caught up in all of the problems if it’s windy and rainy this week.

Some other keys to playing well this week:

  • Good bunker play – yes you want to avoid them, but for those that can escape and get it up and down it will help.
  • Some will say that length and brute strength will play a major role this week.  That’s not how Todd Hamilton did it 12 years ago, or Justin Leonard did it 20 years ago.  The longer you drive it, the more of an advantage you will have.  But with heavy rough that will be thicker when wet, look for more irons off the tee.
  • Putting is going to be a premium this week.  The greens are flat and slow under the standards of the top professionals so look for lots of 7, 8, 9 and 10 footers to be made.
  • Will Troon have a surprise winner or will it be a marquee name nobody can predict?  Look at the past; it has a history of know Champion.  Last year at St. Andrews people were surprised at Zach Johnson winning.  The year before at Hoylake it didn’t surprise anyone that Rory McIlroy won.  The same in 2013 at Muirfield, it didn’t surprise anyone that Phil Mickelson won. He was a hall-of-famer, joining other hall of fame winners of Muirfield.
  • Last but not least, don’t listen to any of the experts that make picks, that includes me.  Golf has become close to impossible to gauge and to picking a winner is almost impossible.  The game has gotten so refined with swing gurus, mind coaches, fitness coaches and dietary experts that golfers can change from playing terribly to winning in a matter of a week. Yes, golf has gotten very complicated these days.

 

Who to watch for at the British Open

Best Bets:

Dustin Johnson

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T49 T12 T32 T9 T2 T14 CUT

Sorry but you have to think he is like Tiger 10 years ago, the luck of the decade. He can overpower this course, he plays ok in wind and the greens are perfect for his not as perfect putting.

Jason Day

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T4 T58 T32 T30 T60

He has been close in most of the tournaments he has played in this year. He showed last year that he can play in bad weather and on links style courses, look for another strong week from him.

Adam Scott

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T10 T5 T3 2 T25 T27 CUT T16 T27 T8 T34 T42

Just look at his Open championship record. He has been in the top-10 in the last four Opens, he is not the greatest of putters which could make him a favorite this week since the greens are forgiving for players like him.

Best of the rest:

Rory McIlroy

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
Win CUT T60 T25 T3 T47 T42

Played terrible at the U.S. Open, should do a lot better this week. Course is good for him and his balky putter.

Henrik Stenson

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T40 T39 2 68 T3 T13 T3 CUT T48 T34

This is also a good course for him and his putting. He plays well in bad weather so look for him over the weekend.

Sergio Garcia

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T6 T2 T21 CUT T9 T14 T38 T51 2 T5 T5 CUT

Guy keeps on bouncing back and finds a way to get into contention. You have to think that one day he will like Dustin find a way to win a major.

Lee Westwood

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T49 CUT T3 T45 CUT 2 T3 T67 T35 T31 CUT 4

Another good player that can win a major at any time. Finished 4th in 2004 and 10th in 1997 so he knows how to play well at Troon.

Solid contenders

Danny Willett

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T6 CUT T15 CUT

Has been in a deep sleep since winning the Masters, wonder if this week will wake him up and he will play well again.

Jordan Spieth

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T4 T36 T44

Guy has guts and always finds a way to content, even if his game is not perfect. If he gets hot with the putter he could be tough.

Louis Oosthuizen

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T2 T36 WD T19 T54 Win CUT CUT CUT

He can always surpise you.

Phil Mickelson

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T20 T23 Win CUT T2 T48 T19 CUT T22 T60 3

Could he find some magic like he did in 2004 when he finished 3rd at Troon.

Branden Grace

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T20 T36 T64 T77 T43

Hasn’t played well in past Opens, could this be his week to change that?

Long shots that could come through:

Andy Sullivan

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T30

The guy has knocked on the doors the last couple of weeks and could be a contender this year.

Marc Leishman

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T2 T5 CUT CUT T60

Has played well the last two years, could he continue the trend?

Francesco Molinari

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T40 T15 T9 T39 CUT CUT T13 CUT

Has been playing great of late, course is good for him.

Comments

  1. allan m says:

    Dude… no disrespect, but a bit of spell check and a dose of grammar check would be great. Love the content, good stuff.

  2. I understand. I put it up before the editor had a chance to fix the problems. They should be fixed now.

  3. Never understood the point of pointing out errors in grammar, as long as you get the point across to me Sal, that’s all I ask. You can capitalize every other word for all I care.

  4. David Shaw says:

    communication has the only important aspect of being understood — you are — don’t worry about grammar and syntax

  5. Thanks, we try our best to get the message across. May not be elegant or win any awards, just trying to help folks choose the best golfer that week.

  6. Anything on coming on Barbasol?

  7. Sorry, at the British and won’t be doing Barbasol. They only have one year of history and I just think the interest is the British.

  8. This tournament is the biggest crap shoot of all the majors but with that being said Sneds or Kuch going to be a factor in your/stats eyes?

  9. Maybe on Kuchar but no on Snedeker. He hasn’t played well in a while. Great talent but is always hit or miss, right now he is a big miss.

  10. Any thoughts for Sunday? Stenson has been playing better but you can’t discount that first time major pressure…

  11. I have a lot of mixed thoughts. First the greed in me wants to see Stenson win, mostly because he is on my Draft Kings picks and I will make money. But the true golfer in me wants to see Phil win, he is great for golf and in the sunset of his career adding another major is like a cherry on top of a chocolate sundae. But the reality of it says that Phil is tiring, you could see it on Saturday, his game wasn’t sharp and when he needed to make that putt at 15 for par he couldn’t make the five footer. Stenson looked great and you think that he will roll on, but history has painted a different picture, one in which he has been in a similar position but wasn’t able to finish the deed. He never has led a major going into the final round and will have a restless night and morning thinking everything.
    But he has been there numerous times and should realize what an opportunity he has, him and Mickelson are so far in front they really don’t have to worry about those in back.
    As for the weather, it’s a great morning in Troon with plenty of sunshine and no wind. The early boys will have a great day to post a good score and move up the leaderboard. Look for lot’s of 65s and 66s today. As for the leaders when they tee off it will be around 70 with 10 mph winds coming off the southwest. So look for struggles early as the front nine plays into the wind and the back being downwind.

    At the end of the day I see Stenson breaking through and taking care of business. He is a smooth customer and I am surprise he hasn’t won a major before. With good weather I see it impossible for someone 8, 9 and 10 back making a run. But you never know, nerves could create havoc for both Phil and Stenson, we know my looking at all these bunkers that a double bogey is close at hand. But still look for the winner to come out of the final group.

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