US Open 2015

2015-US-OPEN_LOGO

Prize Fund – $9,000,00

Winner’s Share – $1,620,000

Course – Chambers Bay (7,585 yards Par 72)

Our 2014 Picks – Jordan Spieth – T17, Luke Donald – MC, Charl Schwartzel – MC, Hideki Matsuyama – T35, Keegan Bradley – T4, Brooks Koepka – T4

The US Open is just a week away now and the excitement is gathering momentum. It’s been a truly remarkable year in golf with big names doing big things and you can only really think that the majors will produce outstanding drama in 2015.

And we can expect drama befitting of the West End or Broadway for this years US Open. The USGA are taking a completely different approach by selecting Chambers Bay and in our eyes, all stats, history and trends can pretty much be flung out the window – in some respects.

Of course, it’s still good to have a look at US Open form however unique the course is, because the correlation of tough, grinding track will certainly cross over.

So, our major preview this year is going to rely on incredibly different aspects to usual and an in-depth look at the track that is causing various degrees of mayhem, controversy and excitement.

#14 Pano

Chambers Bay

Primarily, what do we actually know about the place?

Well it is in Washington, which is a first in itself and has been built and moulded on top of what was an old quarry site. Whilst we’ve seen coastal type golf at Pebble Beach before, never have we witnessed anything like this. It’s a bonafide links track, never really seen in the States, but very common in the UK.

Designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones Jnr, he pretty much had next-to-no restrictions on how he was able to construct the layout because of it’s history. That’s why there are intriguing holes, tough contours and uneven ground.

We’ve been lucky enough to spend some extended time with one of the guys who helped in the construction, agronomist John Clarkin. He, like many others, was drafted in from a British and Irish background knowledge of Links tracks to help grow and design this unprecedented place.

Clarkin stated how Links-like it is and that you can draw pretty much no comparisons with any US courses – it’s simply like extracting a British seaside course and plonking it on a Washington coastline.

The rough is full of fescue and overgrown, natural grass that will pretty much mean a drop shot if you’re hacking out of there. However, the fairways are slightly wider than we could expect, which brings to the argument that big hitters will fare well. However, if you are spraying it all over then you are going to have absolutely no chance.

The second cut will not be particularly long either and alongside the fact there are no real fringes around the greens, the whole course just manoeuvres and meanders around itself, flowing into one mammoth challenge.

Iron play is going to be absolutely vital as well – the best player from tee to green will without doubt be in the mix. But obviously we have to factor in the sloping and rapid greens (potentially around 12 on the stimpmetre) that will cause havoc and 3-putts galore.

Just to throw even more of a spanner in the works, there’s a bunker being ingeniously coined ‘Chambers Basement.’  It’s a 10-foot deep pot bunker, slap bang in the middle of the 18th.  Expect to see a few hacking out of there and it could be like Adam Scott at The Open when Ernie Els sneaked in to grab victory…

That looks like a fun bunker doesn't it?

That looks like a fun bunker doesn’t it?

But the main thing to really look out for, as with any Links course we’ve ever bet on, is the weather. Wind being the main source of potential destruction. At the time of writing, the wind will not be particularly horrendous, but simply due to the exposed nature of some of the holes, a slight breeze can still be tough to deal with.

http://www.theweathernetwork.com/forecasts/golf-report/7-day-weather-forecast/united-states/washington/chambers-bay

The last big thing to think about is the fact that whilst the par 72 stands at 7,585 yards – we’ve already been told that the USGA are going to play around with several holes on various days, making each one completely unique.

We could have anything playing rom 7,350 right up to 7,800. That is simply madness for players and caddies, but amazing for us as spectators.

So, all in all, what sort of player should you be looking for?

  • Someone who has Links form is an absolute must for us. If you’ve never performed on a coastal track, you will find it difficult to suddenly come to a US Open and win against the very best
  • A tee to green proficiency and understanding of when to attack and when to defend
  • Ability to manoeuvre the ball and play different when the conditions change and when the USGA alters the layout
  • Obviously putting is ultimately the difference at the majors…
  • Some sort of recent form. We feel you can discount pretty much anyone who has not been playing well in recent outings, because you need to be in good knick before a US Open (even Lucas Glover had a T2 a few weeks before his victory in 09’)
  • When the US Amateur was held here in 2010 (Peter Uihlein won the event) the scoring average was 79.25.  That shows you need a grinding nature when the going gets particularly tough…

Chambers Bay from everyone else’s perspective:

Mike Davis, USGA Executive Director:

“Virtually every hole out there we will be playing from different teeing grounds on different days. In some cases we may end up putting tee markers on slight slopes as opposed to you think, well, you’re always going to have teeing markers on very flat areas. But there may be some where we give the players a little downhill slope, a little uphill slope, a side slope. So that’s interesting.”

Ian Poulter, social media maverick:

“Well several players have played Chambers Bay in prep for US Open. The reports back are its a complete farce. I guess someone has to win.”

Phil Mickelson, Mr.America (and hopeful contender for inclusion in the new Rory McIlroy PGA Tour game):

“I really like it. The first time you play it, it’s like St. Andrews. You don’t know where to go. You don’t know what mounds do what to do the ball.”

Jordan Spieth, everyone’s hopeful successor as Mr.America (speaking after the US Amateur):

“The course was ridiculously difficult”

Tiger Woods, a fan of Miss.America’s:

“We don’t see this even at the British Open because the greens aren’t banked like this.”

Jason Day, husband to a very attractive wife:

“It’s a little funky.  More Links kind of style golf course, I’m excited to see how it shows it’s teeth”

Henrik Stenson, Swedish Meat-ball-playing, tee-to-green guru:

“It’s a tricked-up links course. It’s got some high elevations, some five, six holes that we normally don’t see on a regular links course, and then we’ve got some more severeness, I’d say. It’s going to be different and it’s quite tricky in places. It’s going to be so much down to the weather as well. If the wind blows and if you were to add a bit of rain, you don’t want to stand there on a 240-yard par-three down to a postage stamp. You need to be sharp with your short game there, it’s going to be tested.”

Brooks Koepka, the lady-lover (according to his Instagram):

“If you just hit a bad golf shot, you’re going to be screwed”

And Finally,

Bubba Watson sinking a ridiculous putt during a practice round…

https://twitter.com/bubbawatson/status/609418048106139648/video/1

So if you’re able to work any of that out and have a few players in mind, we’d say go with your hunches.

We have a few lads that we are quietly confident can be up there challenging, but before we showcase the might six, we must stress that Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose all have (obviously!) ridiculous appeal, but are slightly too short for us…

Our Picks

Phil Mickelson (22/1 BetFred)

World Number 19

Phil getting those fists pumping.  Come on! Phot Courtesy of USA Sports Today

Phil getting those fists pumping. Come on!
Phot Courtesy of USA Sports Today

Sometimes you’ve just got to believe things will happen for a reason. 2015 could finally see Phil’s tumultuous affair with the US Open finally come to an end. The guy has 10 top 10’s and 6 runner-ups with Chambers Bay being his 25th start at this major!

After visiting the course for the first time a few weeks back Mickelson said it “resembled a course you would find in Britain” and that he’s “excited” about Chambers Bay. Looking at his Scottish double back in 2013, we know he has exactly what it takes on these sort of tracks.

The fairways being slightly more generous than usual will only go to help him and if the wind picks up we know he’s got a few low stingers in his locker.

As we’ve mentioned, winning a US Open needs recent form. He’s only missed one cut (The Players) in his last 8 events and has a T4 at the Wells Fargo and T2 at the Masters amongst them. Has posted some solid rounds in recent weeks but just hasn’t put 4 rounds together – Chambers Bay and the electric atmosphere of the US Open is where he finally could. Phil produces on the biggest stage.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
2 4 4 10 13 2

Plus a T9, T60 and WIN at Pebble Beach since 2012

Last 6 Results:

FedEx St.Jude Classic Memorial Tournament Wells Fargo Champs The PLAYERS The Masters Shell Houston
 T3 T65 T4 MC T2 T17

Rickie Fowler (22/1 Stan James)

World Number 8

Focused - courtesy of golfweek

Focused – courtesy of golfweek

Rickie Fowler showed everyone last year that he has the game to really contend at the Majors.  Followers of DownThe18th will know that we’re big fans of him and have often spoken about his exciting brand of golf.

Winning the Players Championship a few weeks ago (and saving our pretty poor betting season) really cemented his place amongst the big boys, dispelling the ridiculous myth that he’s an overrated player.

He was absolutely superb on the back nine stretch which included 4 birdies and an eagle, then keeping his bottle to win in a playoff.

So, whilst he missed the cut last time out at the Memorial, his form this season is still more than good enough to warrant huge Major appeal.  But one of the biggest reasons we really fancy him for his maiden victory is because of the perfect fit with the track.

He has proven his ability on Links courses and actually has a decent track record.  He’s not been scared to come over to the UK for European Tour events in the past – a T8 at the Scottish Open last year and T30 in Ireland in 2015.  That T30 was pretty much ruined in one hole though, when he was very much contending going into the last day.

He is one of the best drivers of a ball – T23 total driving and his irons can be devastating.  But his scrambling and never-say-die attitude is simply perfect for a course like this, when there will be times you’re hacking out of rough and struggling for a tough up and down from a bunker.

This could be the ultimate message to everyone in golf that we are going to have a 4-pronged future with McIlroy, Spieth, Rose and Fowler.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
0 2 3 4 6 1

Plus a T6 at the 2013 Hyundai Tournament of Champions

Last 6 Results:

Memorial Tournament Irish Open The PLAYERS WGC Cadillac Match Play Zurich Classic The Masters
MC T30 WON T9 MC T12

Jim Furyk (40/1 Paddy Power)

World Number 3

 

Jimbo Courtesy of Daily Mail

Jimbo
Courtesy of Daily Mail

We all know about how many near-misses Jimbo had before he won the RBC Heritage back in April. But that win could give him the extra confidence in his mid-forties to find himself another major win.

In 2003, Furyk won the the US Open at Olympia Fields making light work of the field winning by 3 shots. 10 top 10’s since and he still hasn’t won another major. But 2014 was arguably one of his most consistent ever years in the majors (T14 Masters, T12 US Open, 4th Open, T5 PGA). And it’s that sort of form that has seen him rise to 3rd in the world golf rankings. In any sport, 40/1 for the guy ranked 3rd in the world is value.

So what’s going to endear the American to Chambers Bay? Well not only is he brimming with confidence after his RBC win, combined with a 4th in the WGC Match Play and T5 at the Memorial, but his style of play is perfect for this course. Jim finds fairways. He puts the ball where he wants and hits plenty of greens. And when he doesn’t find the dance floor, he’s one of the best at getting up and down (23rd in scrambling on Tour).

It’s hard to see Jim not contending with the way he’s striking the ball at the moment – he’ll know the majors are running out where he can compete with the likes of McIlroy and Spieth so he’s going to be giving 110% this week to win US Open #2.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
0 3 3 4 7 5

PGA Tour ‘Coastal’ tracks:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
1 1 3 3 6 0

Last 6 Results:

Memorial Tournament Wells Fargo Champs The PLAYERS WGC Cadillac Match Play RBC Heritage The Masters
T5 MC T56 4th WON MC

Ian Poulter (80/1 Paddy Power)

World Number 25

Sir Ian.

Sir Ian.

Okay, so we might not be getting the best feeling out of the Poulter camp regarding his views on Chambers Bay having claimed he will let everyone know his thoughts on the course after “holing his last putt”. If his Wentworth views are anything to go by, Chambers Bay isn’t likely to be making his bucket list.

But quite frankly this is a major, the ultimate in golf and Poults will be buzzing for it. Time and time again we talk about his Ryder Cup exploits but they really do show that the Englishman has it in his locker when needed.

2015 has seen him play arguably as good as he ever has in America, T6 HSBC WGC, T3 Honda Classic, T6 Masters (his best performance at Augusta) and T5 in his last appearance at the Crowne Plaza. The swing is looking immaculate and there can’t be any complaints about the way he’s playing.

Chambers Bay will have a British Open feel to it and Poults is more than capable on these sort of tracks. He’s finished T3 and T9 in 2 of his last 3 Opens and has his best ever major finish at the Open, 2nd to Padraig Harrington in 2008.

A few concerns have surrounded his bottle of late (as much as he won’t like us saying it) given the disastrous 4th round at the Honda but he’s confident in his own ability and we think this week is as good a chance as he will ever get at a major.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
0 2 3 5 8 5

Last 6 Results:

Crowne Plaza Invitational The PLAYERS WGC Cadillac Match Play RBC Heritage The Masters Arnold Palmer Invitational
T5 T30 T34 T18 T6 T21

Danny Willett (150/1 BetVictor)

World Number 36

Has everything in his locker for this sort of track

Has everything in his locker for this sort of track

The Englishman was spoken about in the same breath as fellow lads from the UK Donaldson and Lowry but we’ve plumped for Danny and we’ll tell you why.

Firstly, 2015 has seen the birth of Willett on the world stage. Not many American’s will have cared about who he was 6th months ago but they do now. He finished T12 in only his 4th WGC event at the Cadillac back in March which for us, was such a big result for him. But then came the WGC Match-Play. He looked unbelievable winning 6 out of his 7 matches, only losing to Gary Woodland in the semis. He defeated the likes of Reed, Moore, Westwood and Furyk on the way to his 3rd place and 2nd biggest pay cheque of his career. It also catapulted him into the top 40 in the world. All of that means Willett, now with temporary status on the PGA Tour, has to be taken very seriously for this event.

Tee-to-green is where the Englishman earns his bread and his game will be a perfect fit for the British feel of Chambers Bay. His career best major finish was a T15 at the 2013 Open, in what was only his 3rd major start.

The US Open more than any other major seems allow players with no previous major form to come in and contend and Danny is the perfect mould for that.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
0 1 2 4 5 4

Last 6 Results:

Irish Open BMW PGA Champs THE PLAYERS WGC Cadillac Match Play The Masters Shell Houston Open
T6 T38 MC 3rd T38 MC

Alex Noren (250/1 Coral)

World Number 70

Red-hot

Red-hot

There are certainly a lot worse bets out there than this one! Last week the Swede won his 4th European Tour title and his first in 4 years. After injury woes put pay to any sort of form in 2014 it seems Noren has come back fitter and better than ever before.

His standout attribute is his ability with irons from the fairway and this week at Chambers Bay, that will help him out tremendously. The putter too in recent weeks has got hot, so no surprises that when he ranked 3rd putts per GIR at the Nordea Masters, he won by 4 shots.

His best major finish to date was a T9 at the Open and has only played in the US Open (2012) twice before. But Noren is a confident character and you have to envisage these players in a potential final pairing with the likes of McIlroy and Spieth – how would they cope? For many of the European Tour stalwarts you’d say not very well, take Wiesberger at the PGA last year for example. But Noren seems like the kind of guy who won’t be phased at all.

At 250/1 and a recent winner, we’re looking for his confidence to continue and put him in contention this week.

Open Championship Form since 2003 and European Tour ‘Links’ tracks since 2012:

WIN Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Miss Cut
0 1 2 4 4 3

Last 6 Results:

Nordea Masters Irish Open BMW PGA Champs Open de España Volvo China Open Shenzhen International
WON T21 T8 T56 T26 T44
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The Open 2014 Preview One

Coral Sports

the open

Date: 17th – 20th July

Venue: Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Merseyside.

Course: Par 73, 7,350 yards.

Current Champion: Phil Mickelson

Past 6 winners –

2013: Phil Mickelson

2012: Ernie Els

2011: Darren Clarke

2010: Louis Oosthuizen

2009: Stewart Cink

2008: Padraig Harrington

Past 3 winners at Royal Liverpool –

2006: Tiger Woods

1967: Roberto De Vicenzo

1956: Peter Thomson
Coral Sports

PLEASE DO CHECK OUT OUR 3RD AND FINAL PREVIEW HERE, WITH ALL OUR TIPS, PICKS AND HOPEFUL WINNERS!!!

PLEASE DO CHECK OUT OUR 2ND PREVIEW HERE – ALL ABOUT STATS AND TRENDS OF THE OPEN!!

Well, well, well.  Here we go!  Just two weeks away from the 3rd major of the season as the golfing world awaits for the games very best to master the swirling winds and weather of traditional seaside courses in Britain.  This year we are going to be in for a treat at Hoylake where the Royal Liverpool Golf Club will play host on the west north coast of England.

Tiger Woods won here back in 2006 with a record total of -18 and scoring on the whole was low.  BUT do not expect it to be the same this year because the course has changed slightly and conditions will be completely different.  In 2006 the sun shone and the fairways were rock hard, giving it a completely different feel to what the hosts would have wanted.

The course will play at 7,312 yards and the par 72 is a Harry Colt design that will require the classic tee to green ability we all would expect from a links track.

This photo just sums everything up really.  Sun, cloud, wind, who knows!

This photo just sums everything up really. Sun, cloud, wind, who knows! Photo Courtesy of Royal-Liverpool-golf.com

Tiger finished 1st for driving accuracy and 2nd for GIR, so that tells the whole story.  But it is also important to look at those players who are comfortable on links courses and have the ability to manage their game in conditions that will constantly change throughout the week.

Therefore, in our 1st preview of 3 that we will be producing for The Open, we have taken a look at recent links history and what sort of players have kept performing on these sort of tracks.

Some of the courses are by no means an outright, obvious links track, but they all have that ‘seaside’ feel and bunkers/greens that you often find on a links course.  It does make for some interesting reading and the players who have been highlighted include some you would not expect.

Enjoy for now and our 2nd preview is OUT NOW, so if you are interested in everything you need to know about stats and trends from previous Open tournaments, then this is for you!

European Tour

As you would expect, there are more links-esque courses on the European Tour than Stateside and we have researched tournaments from the past year or so –

2014 Africa Open – East London Golf Club (Links and Parkland)  – Thomas Aiken

2014 Tshwane Open – Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate (Links and Parkland) – Ross Fisher

2014 Trophee Hassan II – Golf du Palais Royal (Links) – Alejandro Cañizares

2014 Madeira Islands Open – Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra (Links-esque in the mountains) – Daniel Brooks

2014 Nordea Masters – PGA National (Links feel) – Thongchai Jaidee

2013 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open – Castle Stuart Golf Links (Classic Links) – Phil Mickelson

2013 Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles – The Gleneagles Hotel (Classic Links feel) – Tommy Fleetwood

2013 KLM Open – Kennemer Golf & Country Club (Links feel) – Joost Luiten

2013 ISPS Handa Wales Open – Celtic Manor (Links feel) – Grégory Bourdy

2013 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – Old Course at St.Andrews (Classic Links) – David Howell

2013 Portugal Masters – Oceânico Victoria Golf Course (Classic Links) – David Lynn

2013 Irish Open – Carton House Golf Course (links feels) – Paul Casey

2012 Irish Open – Royal Portrush Golf Club (Classic Links) – Jamie Donaldson

2012 ISPS Handa Wales Open – Celtic Manor (Links feel) – Thongchai Jaidee

2012 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open – Castle Stuart Golf Links (Classic Links) – Jeev Milkha Singh

2012 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – Old Course at St.Andrews (Classic Links) – Branden Grace

2013 The Open – Muirfield (Classic Links feel) – Phil Mickelson

2012 The Open – Royal Lytham & St.Annes (Classic Links) – Ernie Els

We have obviously missed out a few of the same tournaments in 2012, but we felt those real links tests were important, so we added them in alongside the last 2 Open Championships.  But what have we read into all of that?

Well, 7 of those 18 winners were British, which is more than any other nation and shows that traditionally, they have a greater liking for those swirling conditions.  But in all of these tournaments, it has been crucial to be consistent tee to green.

Driving accuracy and GIR stats will be vital and usually the better putters for the week find themselves at the top of the leaderboard.

Of the players who have already qualified (there are 4 spots available this week. 3 at the Scottish Open, 1 at the John Deere Classic.) we have looked at those who have a good record at these links venues.

Pablo Larrazabal (150/1 Ladbrokes)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 2 2 3 6

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
DNP T45 T30 DNP MC T70
Pablo jumping into the water to escape the hornets that attacked him at the Malaysian Open this year.  You won't find him in the water at Hoylake though..

Pablo jumping into the water to escape the hornets that attacked him at the Malaysian Open this year. You won’t find him in the water at Hoylake though.. Photo courtesy of Associated Press

The mercurial Spaniard is one of those players that you have to back when he is feeling good, otherwise you have no chance.  He is certainly temperamental, but when his game is on he can be outstanding.  He has the ability to move the ball how he wants and adapt his game in testing conditions, which is why he could be an interesting outsider.  It is no surprise to see his good record on links tracks.

Stephen Gallacher (100/1 Ladbrokes)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
4 1 5 5

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T21 DNP T57 T23 DNP DNP

The Scot has really found his true standing in the past couple of years.  He is widely considered as one of the best iron players in Europe and his ability to shape the ball accurately from tee to green stands him in good stead on links tracks.  He lost in a playoff at the Nordea Masters this year and the Johnnie Walker Championship in 2013, whilst his first European Tour win came at the now Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2004.  He is a links lover at the end of the day.

Joost Luiten (125/1 WillHill)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 3 1 4 1

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
DNP T45 T63

The Dutchman won on his home tournament at Kennemer and it is no surprise to see his record on these links courses.  He is unerringly accurate tee to green and has the perfect game for any sort of conditions. He is regularly one of the top players at European Tour events, so it would not surprise us to see him challenging at majors soon.

Jamie Donaldson (66/1 Coral)Coral Sports

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 2 4 1

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T32 T60 DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jamie kissing the Irish Open trophy.  More kisses please.

Jamie kissing the Irish Open trophy. More kisses please. Photo Courtesy of Paul Faith

The Welshman is one of our favourite regulars on Tour and he has the perfect tee to green game for links tracks.  We remember watching him at the Irish Open in 2012, which was his 1st European Tour win and it was a revelation in iron-play golf.  He is one of these late bloomers, but at 38 he has so much experience and everything really seems to be ticking for him now.  That is represented by how much his odds have been slashed, especially after a T14 at Augusta this year.

 

Thongchai Jaidee (150/1 Ladbrokes)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
2 3 5 2

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T32 T77 MC MC T13 DNP

The Thai magician has entered his twilight years, but he has been playing some truly outstanding golf in recent months.  Anyone with 17 professional wins to their name must be considered something of a stalwart, but this year has been remarkable.  6 top 10s, a win at the Nordea Masters and he won the 2012 Wales Open.  His tee to green game combined with a superb putting strokes, he is an interesting outsider.

Francesco Molinari (80/1 WillHill)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 2 1 5 2

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T9 T39 MC MC T13 DNP

Francesco Molinari went into a horrible lull of form but has this year been playing much better.  He could be a danger with his natural ability and he will have no qualms playing alongside the best the game has to offer.

Honourable Mentions – Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Shane Lowry, Henrik Stenson, Danny Willett and Matthew Baldwin.

PGA Tour

Do bare in mind, most of these courses are not actual links tracks, but have many similarities to what you would perceive to be a links course.

2014 Hyundai Tournament Of Champions – Plantation Course at Kapalua – Zach Johnson

2014 Sony Open – Waialae Country Club – Jimmy Walker

2014 Waste Management Phoenix Open – TPC Scottsdale – Kevin Stadler

2014 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am – Pebble Beach – Jimmy Walker

2014 RBC Heritage – Harbour Town Golf Links – Matt Kuchar

2014 The Memorial Tournament – Muirfield Village – Hideki Matsuyama

2013 McGladrey Classic – Seaside Course, Sea Island – Chris Kirk

2013 Hyundai Tournament of Champions – Plantation Course at Kapalua – Dustin Johnson

2013 Sony Open – Waialae Country Club – Russell Henley

2013 Waste Management Phoenix Open – TPC Scottsdale – Phil Mickelson

2013 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am – Pebble Beach – Brandt Snedeker

2013 RBC Heritage – Harbour Town Golf Links – Graeme McDowell

2013 The Memorial Tournament – Muirfield Village – Matt Kuchar

(And the 2013/2012 Open Championships)Coral Sports

Adam Scott (16/1 Coral)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
3 2 1

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T3 2nd T25 T27 MC T16
Scott was left devastated after that 2012 collapse. Oh how things have changed. Photo courtesy of Harry How/GettyImages

Scott was left devastated after that 2012 collapse. Oh how things have changed. Photo courtesy of Harry How/GettyImages

Adam Scott has an outstanding record on links tracks and it is no surprise.  He has arguably the best all-round game in golf and his current number 1 status is certainly deserved.  Winning The Masters last year will have given him plenty of confidence to push on and it is about time he wins on a links track.  He has come so close in the past 2 Open Championships, so do not be surprised to see him win his 2nd major title this year.

Matt Kuchar (40/1 Ladbrokes)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
2 1 5 2 1

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T15 T9 MC T27 MC MC

Another top quality player with real links pedigree.  Matt Kuchar has not missed a cut for the past 2 years on any links-esque course and picked up 2 titles in the meantime – The RBC Heritage this year and the Memorial Tournament in 2013.  He has genuine class and continues this trend of iron gurus that this list is undoubtedly and unsurprisingly starting to unravel.  He is one of those top players yet to win a major and whilst his form at Augusta is outstanding, it could be in the tough conditions of an Open track that Kuch finally etches his name into history.

Zach Johnson (80/1 Coral)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 1 3 2 3 1

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T6 T9 T16 T76 T47 T51

Zach Johnson has already proven his major pedigree by winning at Augusta and in what was one of the toughest conditions ever seen at the Masters, he proved his ability to manoeuvre the ball in all sorts of wind.  He has the perfect temperament to deal with links courses and proves that by his form on them in the past 2 years, winning at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions this year.  He also has very respectable form at recent Open championships, so if he can rediscover his early-season form, anything could happen.

Dustin Johnson (33/1 Coral)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 1 2 2 2

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T32 T9 T2 T14 MC DNP
DJ is used to being beside the seaside...

DJ is used to being beside the seaside…

Dustin Johnson is clearly a supremely talented golfer, but he can be frustrating to watch let alone bet on sometimes.  10 professional titles as he enters his 30s is an impressive return and his huge distances off the tee and attacking game, clearly work on links courses.  When he is straight he can be devastating.  Those low drillers completely take out the wind and give him great chances on what are usually shorter courses.  His win came at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions last year and we all know his main problem is consistency.  If he is consistent, he is a winner.

 

Chris Kirk (125/1 WillHill)

Won Top 5 Top 10 Top 25 Made Cut Missed Cut
1 4 2 4 1



NEVER PLAYED AT THE OPEN

Chris Kirk is having one of those ‘breakthrough’ seasons, where his top quality golf has not come in spurts, but consistently week in, week out.  He has built upon a solid 2013 and this year is yet to miss a cut.  His straight-hitting game is a perfect fit for links golf and he has a superb short game to tackle any type of greens.  His win came at the McGladrey Classic, but a further 4 top 5 finishes on links tracks is an outrageous return.  He will be making his first appearance at The Open, but he could be one of those surprise Americans to attack the leaderboard.  He has 2 top 30 finishes at this year majors already, so he is certainly no mug.  Keep him on your radar.

Hideki Matsuyama (66/1 Ladbrokes)

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1 1 1 2

Last 6 Open Tournaments

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
T6 DNP

It may not be fair to the likes of Brandt Snedeker and Harris English that we include Hideki Matsuyama because they have played in far more links tournaments with a cracking record.  But the reason we have decided to include the Japanese here is because he is just one of those players that has something magical and rare in the game.  To have won 6 professional titles at 22-years old says something in itself, but it’s his highly methodical swing that is so impressive.  It looks like nothing can ever go wrong and it doesn’t change in the heat of battle, as proven by his playoff win this year at the Memorial Tournament.  4 top 35s in his last 5 majors, including 2 top 10s show he is not fazed by superstars and with his incredible tee to green game and ability with the short stick, we can definitely see him up there again this year.

Honourable Mentions – Brandt Snedeker, Harris English, Jimmy Walker, Webb Simpson and Jordan Spieth.

So, there you have it.  We have trawled through those leaderboards and found the best we thought could offer something at this years tournaments, but please do have a look for yourselves!  Our second preview will be up on the site later this week, so do come back to check it out before the weekend!