The 147th Open Championship
The par 71 Carnoustie links last hosted the Open in 2007 when it was won by Padraig Harrington and prior to that in 1999 when Paul Lawrie triumphed. Unlike in 1999 this year the course set up is very fair with patchy rough. The fairways are bone hard so driving distance will not be an important stat this week. The keys will lie in staying out of fairway bunkers from the tee and in having good touch on and around the greens. Expect one or two players who performed well under similar conditions at Gullane last week to go well this week. The weather forecast is generally fine with light breezes.
OUTRIGHT: Justin Rose, 0.5 pts win and place 16/1 (1/5 odds 8 places)
Players such as Hogan, Player and Harrington who take a methodical, strategic approach to the game have thrived here in the past and Rose is very much in that mould. True his Open record is poor but this course will demand a certain mindset and Rose has it. Add to that he is already a major winner as well as the fact he is playing well and, crucially, putting so much better this year and Rose looks like an all- round good bet. His tied twelfth place effort last week at Gullane will have boosted his confidence.
OUTRIGHT: Rickie Fowler, 0.5 pts win and place 18/1 (1/5 odds 8 places)
Rather surprisingly Fowler has yet to win in 2018 but he did contend strongly in the Masters where he finished runner – up to Patrick Reed. He has a solid Open record behind him already with two top five finishes in recent years at Royal St Georges in 2011and at Hoylake in 2014 and he did win The Scottish Open on Gullane links in 2015. His excellent touch around the greens will be a big asset this week and with a solid tied sixth place finish behind him last week in The Scottish Open his preparation for Carnoustie looks encouraging.
OUTRIGHT: Tiger Woods, 0.5 pts win and place 30/1 (1/5 odds 8 places)
Woods’ return to good health and some decent form has been one of golf’s biggest stories in 2018. All aspects of his game have been firing at certain times but the consistency necessary to win a tournament has eluded him this far. However that may change this week as his experience and mental focus ought to give him a real edge on most of the field. In the benign weather and on firm fairways he wont need to use his errant driver much at all and he can employ his “stinger” fairway woods and long iron shots to good effect just as he did when he won at Hoylake in 2006. If he finds his touch around the greens he can be a serious contender this week.
TOP GB & I: Matthew Southgate, 0.5 pts win and place 40/1 (1/5 odds 4 places)
Southgate did us proud at Birkdale last year in the top English category and looks well worth sticking with here. Two years ago he followed up a tied second place in The Irish Open with a strong Open performance. In last year’s Open he improved on that with a tied sixth place finish at Birkdale so his Open credentials are solid. Just a few weeks ago he finished tied fifth in The French Open. To add some real spice to the mix Southgate is a Carnoustie member so should be able to adapt to the dry and hard conditions better than most.
TOP US: Brandt Snedeker, 0.5 pts win and place 50/1 (1/5 odds 5 places)
Snedeker has endured a difficult 2018 season form wise but the hard work he has put in to turn things around which has seen him record two top ten finishes in the past six weeks appears to have paid dividends. His Open record is not too shabby with a tied third place finish in 2012 at Lytham followed up in 2013 at Muirfield with a tied eleventh place and has already won on US coastal tracks. His excellent scrambling skills should help his cause considerably this week.
TOP US: Webb Simpson, 0.5 pts win and place 50/1 (1/4 odds 4 places)
Simpson struggled badly for a long period after the ban on anchoring the putter but his hard work to adapt to a new putting style has paid off. He looked more like his old self last year and this year has taken a step further winning The Players Championship in May. He followed that up more recently with a top ten finish in June in The St Jude Classic. Indeed his biggest weakness now has become an asset to the extent that he figures very prominently in the putting\scrambling stats. As a previous US Open winner he has proved he has the big event mentality so essential to do well this week.