The 146th Open Championship
The par 70 Royal Birkdale links hosts this event for the first time since Padraig Harrington’s victory in 2008. The winning score of 3 over par speaks volumes as to the difficulty of the course where driving accuracy is crucial to avoiding the thickish rough and devilishly placed bunkers. With some breeze forecast over the 4 days of the Championship scoring is once again likely to be on the high side.
OUTRIGHT: Rickie Fowler, 1 pt win and place 16/1 (1/5 odds 8 places)
Fowler has already contended strongly in the first two Majors of the year so will be hoping it’s third time lucky. He has a solid Open record behind him already with two top five finishes in recent years at Royal St Georges in 2011 and at Hoylake in 2014. With a convincing win in March in The Honda Classic (a breezy Open type test in itself) behind him and a solid display on the links at Dundonald last week in The Scottish Open his preparation for Birkdale looks encouraging.
OUTRIGHT: Tommy Fleetwood, 0.5 pts win and place 25/1 (1/5 odds 8 places)
Fleetwood has really come to prominence in 2017 with two European Tour wins in Abu Dhabi and in France as well as three top five place finishes which included a runner-up spot in top class company in the WGC event in Mexico in March. Admittedly his Open record is unexceptional but this is a home game for him as he used to stay just yards from the course. He should be able to put his local knowledge to effect and he tuned up well on the links in The Irish Open at Portstewart with a tied tenth place finish two weeks ago.
OUTRIGHT: Adam Scott, 0.5 pts win and place 30/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)
Scott has knocked The Open door in both 2012 and 2013 without success but it might just be third time lucky for the Australian this week. The ball striking skills are still there in abundance (he played well last week at Dundonald until he was blown away in Saturday’s gales) so what we require is an inspired week with the flat stick to ensure a strong challenge for our money.
TOP ENGLISH PLAYER: Matthew Southgate, 0.5 pts win and place 45/1 (1/4 odds 4 places)
Southgate is riding the crest of a wave right now having followed up Open qualifying two weeks ago with an excellent tied second place to Jon Rahm in the Irish Open. Intriguingly he followed up a strong Irish Open finish last year with a top fifteen place finish in The Open at Royal Troon so let’s hope that’s a good omen for this year too.
TOP ROW PLAYER: Branden Grace, 1 pt win and place 12/1 (1/4 odds 4 places)
Grace has a strong affinity with links golf having played that style of golf extensively in his native South Africa most notably on the links at Fancourt. He warmed up nicely at Dundonald links last week with a tied fifteenth place finish and looks like having run into some form at just the right time. His low ball flight should help him thrive if the breeze gets up at Birkdale.
TOP ASIAN PLAYER: Hideto Tanihara, 0.5 pts win and place 12/1 (1/5 odds 3 places)
Tanihara has already established some minor Open pedigree in finishing tied sixth at Hoylake in 2006 and arrives here largely under the radar of the compilers despite a third place finish in The BMW PGA in May followed up with a top ten place finish in the Irish Open two weeks ago. He looks fair value in what is a relatively weak grouping.
TOP SCOTTISH PLAYER: Richie Ramsay, 1 pt win and place 4/1 (1/3 odds 2 places)
After a difficult season Ramsay appears to have hit form at just the right time with a tied second place in The Irish Open two weeks ago followed up by a solid made cut last week at Dundonald. As a noted links exponent he looks well capable of trumping the field in what is a very weak speciality group.