Prize Fund – £6,300,000
Winner’s Share – £1,150,000
Course – St. Andrews Old Course (7,305 yards Par 72)
Our 2014 Picks – Adam Scott – T5, Graeme McDowell – T9, Zach Johnson – T47, Webb Simpson – MC, Shane Lowry – T9, Robert Karlsson – T12, Ryan Moore – T12, Stephen Gallacher – T15
So here we are. The third and most historic major of the golfing calendar. The US Open began in 1895, PGA in 1916 and The Masters in 1934. But The Open Championship? 1860.
That means the 144th edition of this great tournament will be held back at the (adopted) home of golf – St. Andrews.
As we’ve stated before, this season has been full of storylines and performances from top players, with Jordan Spieth obviously now going for the unthinkable this week.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of what we can expect, we’ve got to mention the big omission of world number one Rory McIlroy. It has affected the odds and it the repercussions of him playing ‘soccer’ (It’s FOOTBALL) will definitely be felt across the globe. With his record at St. Andrews as well, you can’t help but think we really do now have a wide open contest.
On to the famous track though – we’ve had some truly great winners here, some of the best to ever play the game – Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Seve Ballesteros, Sir Nick Faldo, Sam Snead and Bobby Jones.
We’ve all seen the layout thousands of times in replays and famous Open moments but for those of you that didn’t know, the par 72 lies at 7,305 yards running across the Scottish east coast near in Fife.
The Old Course has 112 individually named bunkers, including the infamous ‘Hell Bunker’ on 14 and the ‘Road Bunker’ on the 17th. Both have dished out serious pain to many that have succumbed to it’s sandy ways and can be the difference between a par and a triple bogey.
Tiger Woods managed to go round here without finding a bunker on his way to the 2000 Open title, whilst Sir Nick only hit a few in 1990. The likelihood is, you’re going to see everyone in one at some point, so scrambling and sand saves will be key when thinking about your bets.
The fairways are rolling, undulating and famously wide – there’s plenty of space to attack off the tee, but that doesn’t mean you can spray the ball wildly because the thick fescue ad gorse will take no prisoners.
The greens double up several times throughout the 18 and are therefore incredibly large, which means there’s a variation of slopes, lengths and speeds during a round. Knowing when to attack pins and go for those birdies is simply crucial.
FOLLOW US ON TWITTER THROUGHOUT THE WEEK – @Downthe18th
All in all there are several factors we are looking at when it comes to St. Andrews this year –
- The winner will definitely have to understand links and how to play different shots, in varying conditions. There’s no other type of golf even remotely similar to it. Not sure where to look?
- Irish Opens, especially this year at Royal County Down and 2012 at Royal Portrush http://www.europeantour.com/europeantour/season=2015/tournamentid=2015040/history/index.html
- Scottish Open http://scottishopen.europeantour.com/event-information/history/
- Obviously every Open Championship
- AT&T Pebble Beach http://www.pgatour.com/tournaments/at-t-pebble-beach-national-pro-am/past-results.html
- RBC Heritage http://www.pgatour.com/tournaments/rbc-heritage/past-results.html
- 2015 US Open (Chambers Bay had a very Links feel to it!) http://www.usopen.com/en_US/scoring/
- Not necessarily on fire, but showing something in past few outings, because St. Andrews demands your full attention, just look at the recent winners –
- Louis Oosthuizen won a tournament and had 5 top 5’s, however he missed the 2 cuts in the events prior to lifting the Claret Jug
- Tiger Woods only had one finish outside the top 11 in the 6 tournaments prior to his 2005 win, including 3 top 3’s and a win.
- No point even saying what Tiger was on during his win in 2000. It was barmy.
- John Daly was a slight anomaly. Few missed cuts before and a couple of finishes inside the top 15.
- Sir Nick had 3 top 5’s in a row before and had won The Masters.
- Those past 4 winners all averaged nearly 300 yards plus off the tee. We’re not saying a truly big hitter is needed, but you need to have some sort of distance
- Look at Dunhill Links for some cheeky European stalwarts at high odds
- A scrambler and flag attacker. Birdies can sometimes be easy to come at St. Andrews.
Overall it will be an unbelievable week of historic golf, especially as we all say a final farewell to one of the greatest Open champions ever. Only Harry Vardon has more Open titles than this living legend.
Tom Watson. We salute you.
DON’T FORGET – Our weekly competition with renowned magazine Golf Monthly continues, take a peak at the end of our selections to see how our stakes have been distributed this time.
You can follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!
Rickie Fowler (22/1 various)
If you’d come to our site in the past few days, you would have seen the names Rickie Fowler and Tommy Fleetwood pop up in our preview. It’s obvious that these were our two antepost bets, mainly because we fancied them to do well for both events in Scotland.
So, we grabbed Fowler at 33’s with BetFred and duly watched him go on another birdie binge to win at Gullane. It was yet another unbelievable performance; a master class in complete golf.
There’s simply very few chinks in his impenetrable armour. We all thought that he didn’t have the bottle to win and that we would never see him push on from an outstanding amateur career.
Well from recording 4 top 5 finishes at the majors last year, he’s pushed on to unbelievable heights in 2015.
His form leading in is clearly very good, he is driving well and looks very comfortable with his mid-short irons and that is a potentially lethal combination at St. Andrews. We’ve seen his scrambling abilities quite regularly recently as well, which is always a must with the heather and bunkers protecting an otherwise simple track.
But there are two significant reasons why we really fancy him this week. Firstly, his bottle. He looks so comfortable on the greens in heated moments, he is really learning how to hole putts when it matters. Just think Sawgrass and that fantastic approach on the last in Gullane to give him his one shot victory. The boy got game.
But secondly, it’s ability on links tracks. We’ve seen him several times turning up on these shores to have a knock on seaside courses – T8 at the Scottish and T2 at The Open last year, T30 in Ireland a few months back, when he was challenging for the lead.
Plus he finished T14 at St. Andrews back in 2010 after surging through the ranks following a quality final round.
In Rick we trust.
|Scottish Open||US Open||The Memorial||Irish Open||The Players Champs||WGC Cadillac|
Open Championship Form
Henrik Stenson (22/1 various)
Well, here we go again. We’ve been through all sorts of ups and downs with Henrik Stenson, including at this very tournament back in 2013, but we’ve got something of a hunch that it’s time for us to re-visit and old pal.
His rise back to the summit of the sport is virtually complete and has kept very steady – he hasn’t left the top 10 since the back end of 2013 – but it’s blindingly obvious what’s missing.
He’s won The Players, a WGC and 15 other pro events, but that breakthrough major still eludes him. And whilst we feel his game can be transferred to pretty much any major, The Open feels like the best type of layout for him, especially the demands St. Andrews will bring.
He finished T3 here back in 2010, which in most years would have challenged for the title, but we all know what Louis went on to do. Plus in 2005 he finished T34 when his game was nowhere near the level it is now, so it adds up to some very encouraging signs.
He’s also played the Dunhill Links many times compared to the other big boys around him, so he’ll know the track incredibly well and having record 3 top 10’s there, you can’t help but gain that extra bit of confidence.
Form wise he’s definitely been topsy-turvy. A cracking return to his best at his last outing in Germany (T2) will keep him buoyant, whilst you have to remember he’s had top 20’s at The Masters and The Players and a solo 2nd at the Arnold Palmer and 4th at the Valspar.
His length off the tee will be an obvious advantage, especially with the wider fairways and his irons are a thing of beauty once he gets going. There’s just something telling us Stenson is going to go on a roll this week…
|BMW International||US Open||Nordea Maters||Wells Fargo Champs||The Players Champs||WGC Cadillac|
Open Championship Form
Brooks Koepka (66/1 StanJames)
Brooks Koepka has been on a rapid rise into the higher echelons of world golf in the past year or so. Having started out 2014 in and around 100th in the rankings, he has been firmly amongst the top 25 since his breakthrough PGA Tour win at the Waste Management.
Including his win in Turkey at the back end of last year, he’s been showing genuine major contending form. If you remember he grabbed us some place money at the US Open in 2014 and wasn’t a million miles away a few weeks ago at Chambers Bay.
And the fact he played well on a proper links track shows that he’s got the game for an Open Championship. He learnt the ropes in the pro game over in Europe as well, which means he’s accustomed to ‘non-American’ courses and actually has a pretty decent record on these layouts.
T28 at the Johnnie Walker, T22 in Wales, T12 at the Scottish and a win at the Scottish Hyrdo all in 2013, whilst he actually finished T4 at the Dunhill Links last year.
Then he went on to finish in a tie for 22nd last week, following on from some good recent form, including a T3 at the St. Jude Classic a few events back. His length and iron game definitely suits St. Andrews and out of all the mid-rangers, he really looks like the perfect fit to challenge the very best.
|Scottish Open||US Open||FedEx St. Jude Classic||The Memorial||AT&T Byron Nelson||BMW PGA Champs|
Open Championship Form
Brandt Snedeker (50/1 various)
No denying that plumping on Brandt Snedker goes against everything we’ve said about distance, but this lad is in such good knick and simply too good with the short stick not to consider.
His recent form is up there with anyone (barring Spieth…) and he’s gone relatively unnoticed or even mentioned for the claret jug.
Don’t forget it wasn’t that long ago he challenged Adam Scott and Ernie Els very close. In 2012 he was unstoppable with his putter and irons – he shot 66 and 64 to equal the lowest 36 hole score in The Open. Yes he went on to finish T3 but that proves he’s got the game for links golf. Just look at his two wins at the AT&T – Pebble Beach is a proper seaside track.
But we really do feel he is closing in on that hot streak again, when attacking the pins and finding the cup is done with ease. His putting stats are a joke – 5th strokes gained putting, 19th total putting, 9th one-putt percentage. He just loves it.
He may not have played St. Andrews, but if he can avoid the bunkers as often as possible, keep in play and get that putter going, you never know…
|Travelers Champs||US Open||AT&T Byron Nelson||Crowne Plaza||The Players Champs||WGC Cadillac|
Open Championship Form
Tommy Fleetwood (80/1 various)
Tommy Fleetwood has entered the top 50 in the world for the first time in his career this season and most of that is down to a new-found consistency. He really is playing some decent golf.
7 finishes inside the top 21, with 4 top 10’s including a T10 across the water in Gullane at the weekend. He had a genuine chance going into that final round but it started off with a double on the 1st and he never truly recovered. That hasn’t put us off backing him (even though admittedly we laid him last week…) and most of that was because of his outstanding form at St. Andrews.
He is a remarkable 26-under in his last 4, yes FOUR, rounds there. That is simply ludicrous. His results at the Alfred Dunhill are crazy – T2 in 2014, 2nd in 2013, 5th in 2012, 55th in 2011 and T5 in 2010. That is some of the best form of anyone at the event and bringing that to St. Andrews in the sort of confidence and vibe he will be in at the moment is very exciting.
|Scottish Open||BMW International||US Open||The Memorial||Irish Open||BMW PGA Champs|
Open Championship Form
Retief Goosen (250/1 various)
We wanted to find another cheeky outsider and dabbled with the idea of Rafa Cabrera Bello but stuck with Retief Goosen. We are only talking a few spare pennies, but he got back to some iron beauty in Germany, finishing T4 (and winning us some much needed dollar!) whilst his form at St. Andrews is not bad – T41 2000 and T5 in 2005 and 6th in 2010.
Plus he won the Alfred Dunhill Cup back when it was matchplay in the nineties twice in a row with Ernie and David Frost.
At the end of the day, he is a double major champion and we know that was some time ago, but all we say is, why not?
|John Deere Classic||BMW International||US Open||FedEx St.Jude||The Memorial||AT&T Byron Nelson|
Open Championship Form
Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly. It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters! We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out.
It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets. Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.
Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows –
£2.00 e/w on Rickie Fowler at 33/1 (BetFred)
£2.50 win on Henrik Stenson at 22/1 (Coral)
£0.75 e/w on Brooks Koepka at 66/1 (BetFred)
£0.50 e/w on Brandt Snedeker 50/1 (PaddyPower)
£0.50 e/w on Tommy Fleetwood 80/1 (BetFred)
Each way bets ¼ odds for top 5 finish unless stated otherwise.
Find the Golf Monthly Preview here (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news)
European Tour: £49.17
PGA Tour: £-29.00
European Tour: £-110.62