Date: 18-21 July 2013
Current Champion: Ernie Els
1st Preview – The Open Championship Preview 1
NEW – Official Picks and Preview available here – The Open Championship Main Preview
Our first preview (above) touched on trends that we have used to pick out a few names that fit all the criteria for being the 2013 Open Champion. And from that, we have thrown out there a few names who we thought a couple of weeks ago will be in with a chance. This preview will be all about the course, getting to grips with Muirfield and really understanding what type of player is needed to play well around here. Preview 3 will be published early next week with detailed analysis of all our selections.
Please do check out two of our articles about the Open for Golf Monthly, who we have started writing for on a weekly basis!
The first one is about Sergio Garcia and his madness
And the second one is about the ridiculous process of Open Qualifying. Enjoy!
So what is Muirfield all about?
Well the course this year has been lengthened by 158 yards, now making it a 7,192 yard par 71. Muirfield is going to be tough and we’ve found an interesting quote that proves just that
“The rough has been cut down over the winter but will regenerate over the coming weeks. We will see the rough up and you are unlikely to win an Open Championship at Muirfield from the rough. The amount of rough is weather-dependent, but we will get plenty.” – R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson
You can debate whether the extra yardage will benefit the bigger hitters, but accuracy is going to be everything around Muirfield. And the common thing with all links courses, is wind. If you don’t know how to play in the elements, you will be seeing a lot of that Scottish rough. We also think that scrambling comes hand in hand with any Open. As far as we can remember, the winners have always had to scramble well for all 4 days, because it’s often those unlikely par saves that mean the most. And as you will see in the hole guide, there are a LOT of bunkers, so sand play needs to be at its best!
Muirfield – Hole by Hole
From a betting perspective, it is always good to get to grips with the course, getting a sense of what your players will be facing. So we’re going to give you a quick run through of each hole. This is also to show you why we have decided to focus on the statistics that we have. Just like we did for our US Open preview, we have worked out the average drive of a pro golfer to be 290 yards. From this we can work out what yardage in theory the average drive will leave you.
Hole 1: Par 4 – 447 Yards
Nerves will be jangling and everyone will hear Ivor Robson’s unmistakeable voice announcing the players. A dog leg right, and apart from the obvious rough, the danger lies in the two left bunkers 222 and 305 yards down the left. Green is relatively easy.
Average drive leaves: 157 yards
Hole 2: Par 4 – 362 Yards
First of the two short par 4’s on the front 9. If wind is with, a few players’ eyes might light up. But most will take a wood or low iron and play conservative on this hole, allowing a full shot into the green. Bunkers lurk either side of the fairway at the 240 yard mark. For this reason we will lower the average drive on this hole. 4 bunkers to the right of the green will cause lots of problems.
Average drive leaves: 110 yards
Hole 3: Par 4 – 377 Yards
Another short par 4, the already tight fairway narrows at 290 yards with bunkers either side so again the driver will probably be staying in the bag, anything short of the left bunker will be perfect for the approach. A birdie-able par 4 if ever there was one at Muirfield, with just a wedge in and no real drama awaiting on the greens. Very accurate tee shot needed though.
Average drive leaves: 100 yards
Hole 4: Par 3 – 226 Yards
Longest par 3 on the course, and it’s not an easy one. The long yardage with wind blowing could mean a lot of missed greens. Scrambling will be paramount here, and there are bunkers front left and right for anyone who gets their yardage wrong.
Hole 5: Par 5 – 559 Yards
If the wind is with, a definite eagle opportunity with a short iron probably in hand for the 2nd shot. But accuracy is still needed, bunkers lurk on the left at 302 and 343 yards and there are three shorter on the right, with the earliest at 251 yards. A two tiered green awaits that could get pretty fast. This green backs onto the 11th green, and the bunkers around there will be in play for both.
Average drive leaves – 269 yards
Hole 6: Par 4 – 461 Yards
A real tough hole this one, the fairway is not really visible off the tee on this dog leg left. The fairway is tight and bunkers lurk at 230 and 259 yards. Players will try and go right but get it wrong and you will be chopping out from the rough. There are some tricky run-off areas around the green and again scrambling will be key.
Average drive leaves – 171 yards
Hole 7: Par 3 – 184 Yards
Another difficult green to find and four pot bunkers guard the front and left. Steep run-off areas again mean scrambling is everything, as well as getting out of those bunkers. If the wind is against, par will be a great score on this hole.
Hole 8: Par 4 – 441 Yards
This is another menacing hole, with the fairway narrowing severely at 280 yards and bunkers all down the right side before it. A ridge 35 yards short of the front edge makes the green tough to see. The green slopes towards the back right bunker and good play from the sand will be needed.
Average drive leaves – 151 yards
Hole 9: Par 5 – 554 Yards
This hole has received one of the biggest makeovers this year, extending the tee back around 60 yards. Wind will make anyone on the tee struggle and bunkers lie at 274 and 315 yards either side. A simple green awaits but 5 bunkers dominate the front of this green, making the two shot approach a tough one. Again, good play from sand will be needed.
Average drive leaves – 264 yards
Hole 10: Par 4 – 469 Yards
A longer par 4 and again the danger off the tee will lie in the bunkers. There are three at 238, 268 and 291 yards down the right side. Players will want to be going left as a result, but this will bring the rough into play. Accuracy therefore is crucial off the tee. Scrambling should not be difficult around this green and no real problems lie on the surface either.
Average drive leaves – 179 yards
Hole 11: Par 4 – 387 Yards
This is one of the easier holes, a ridge at 205 yards make the tee shot blind but the fairway is wide enough to keep the ball in play. But bunkers are either side at 289, 302 and 319 yards which many will go in. The problem here is the small green which is well protected by 7 bunkers all around it. So you are going to have to get it close here.
Average drive leaves – 97 yards
Hole 12: Par 4 – 379 Yards
Bunkers not really in play off the drive, but the fairway narrows at about 270 yards. So you need to be accurate. The key here will be getting on the surface, with steep run-offs at the back and 5 bunkers down the right side. So scrambling and sand saves will be vital on the 12th.
Average drive leaves – 89 yards
Hole 13: Par 3 – 190 yards
This uphill par 3 will be tough like all of them, 2 bunkers on the left and 3 on the right. Throw the wind in there and it will make club choice tough. The bunkers are all deep and will require skill to get out. The green is long and narrow, and most will be more than happy with par.
Hole 14: Par 4 – 475 Yards
A downhill tee shot after the uphill 13th and bunkers offer the trouble down the left between 260 and 305 yards. Centre or just right will leave you with a perfect shot in. With it being a long hole, players will find themselves off the green, but the run off is lenient and getting up and down will not be too hard.
Average drive leaves – 185 yards
Hole 15: Par 4 – 448 Yards
A dogleg right that could more than likely be playing into the wind, which means the bunkers left at 245 yards and right at 281 yards will definitely be in play. As usual the fairway is tight and accuracy is needed. Bunkers are also short of the green so players need to be carrying those while more sand lies all around it. If you miss here you will be in sand.
Average drive leaves – 158 yards
Hole 16: Par 3 – 186 Yards
7 bunkers surround this green, and most of them are front which means hitting into the wind will make club choice imperative. The green will not offer too many problems, but getting onto the dance floor is what it’s all about on this hole.
Hole 17: Par 5 – 575 Yards
This is a tough dogleg left but get it right and it will offer up birdie and eagle chances. Players will want to stay right off the tee to avoid the 4 bunkers down the left side in the driving zone. People who go for the 3 shot approach will find it tough with 3 big bunkers around 100 yards from the front edge. The green is quite helpful and players will need to be under par on this hole.
Average drive leaves – 285 yards
Hole 18: Par 4 – 470 Yards
So DownThe18th they will all go. This is a tricky final hole as you would expect for the last at an Open. Bunkers are really in the driving zone at 283 and 302 yards down the left, and then at 265 yards on the right. Everyone will want to be in the fairway for this one. The green is sloped from back to front and the 2 bunkers left and right will be in the players’ mind. Scrambling and sand saves will be so vital on this one, with nerves and wind included.
Average drive leaves – 180 yards
So what statistics will you need to look at?
There are always the generic areas that you have to look at for any course. Driving accuracy, Greens in regulation (GIR) and Putting are always up there. Muirfield needs a few more specifics. Sand saves will be very crucial, as will Scrambling. Then after assessing the yardage on each hole, it is apparent Approach 150-175 yards and Approach from 75-100 yards is also going to have to be looked at. These are the MAIN ones, of course there will be more, but this should filter out enough players.
Who does this filter out?
The names that we will give you are purely because of their statistics, and no personal opinions have been put into these! We can only get hold of the specific approach statistics on the PGA Tour, so it’s only right we start there. If they fit at least half of the categories, we will show them below.
PGA Tour (WGR Order)
Tiger Woods – 40th GIR, 4th Putting, 22nd Sand, 7th 150-175
Justin Rose – 12th Dri Acc, 13th GIR, 11th Scram, 1st Sand, 3rd 75-100
Adam Scott – 18th GIR, 28th Sand, 29th 150-175, 1st 75-100
Brandt Snedeker – 27th Dri Acc, 14th GIR, 16th Putting, 29th Scram, 20th Sand, 14th 75-100
Phil Mickelson – 34th GIR, 11th Putting, 38th Sand, 3rd 150-175
Luke Donald – 29th Dri Acc, 7th Putting, 22nd Scram, 26th Sand
Lee Westwood – 30th Dri Acc, 9th Scram, 29th Sand, 36th 150-175
Charl Schwartzel – 28th GIR, 30th Putting, 10th 150-175, 4th 75-100
Henrik Stenson – 6th Dri Acc, 3rd GIR, 20th 150-175, 37th 75-100
Billy Horschel – 40th Dri Acc, 23rd GIR, 24th Putting, 45th 150-175, 28th 75-100
Tim Clark – 3rd Dri Acc, 34th Scram, 50th Sand, 18th 150-175, 12th 75-100
K.J. Choi – 37th Dri Acc, 26th Putting, 24th Scram, 2nd Sand, 42nd 75-100
European Tour (WGR Order)
Justin Rose – 15th GIR, 25th Scram, 2nd Sand
Matteo Manassero – 32nd Dri Acc, 11th Scram, 12th Sand, 30th Putting
George Coetzee – 13th Scram, 3rd Sand, 20th Putting
Alexander Noren – 52nd GIR, 9th Scram, 15th Sand, 10th Putting
Marcus Fraser – 7th Scram, 25th Sand, 4th Putting
We’ve highlighted in red a few that we will take into consideration a lot for our final selections…
Our 3rd and final preview will be with you early next week!