Strong field head to Hoylake for the 143rd Open Championship.
It’s one of Britain’ sporting highlights this weekend as the cream of world golf head to the Royal Liverpool Club for the Open Championship. Phil Mickelson took the title in 2013 and returns to defend his crown alongside a talented field including plenty of home favourites.
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Can an English golfer become the first to win the Open since Nick Faldo in 1992? Or will an overseas player win the title for the 16th time in the last 20 years? Keep reading for our preview of the 143rd Open Championship.
Accurate driving and clever short game likely to be crucial
While there have been many Open Championships where low scoring is at a premium, this is not always the case at Hoylake. When the Open was last played at the Royal Liverpool Club, Tiger Woods shot an 18 under par 270, the lowest score to win the tournament since Nick Faldo in 1990.
Up 54 yards from its 2006 measurement to a maximum 7,312 this week, Royal Liverpool boasts three par 5s on the second nine – holes 10, 16 and 18 – and so it plays as a par 35/37. In 2006, the par-5 scoring average was a low 4.52, meaning there are plenty of opportunities for birdies and eagles.
That year, Woods played the quartet of par 5s at 14 under par with ten birdies and two eagles.
The favourites for the Open
If there is such a thing as a streak in golf then Justin Rose may have found it. The Englishman has won his last two tournaments – the Quicken Loans National on the PGA Tour and the Scottish Open last weekend – and is the 14/1 favourite for the Open this year.
Winning a third tournament in a row would be unprecedented but you only have to go back to last year to see that a Scottish Open/Open double in consecutive weeks is possible. Rose doesn’t have the best record at the Open but he ought to be there or thereabouts this weekend.
It’s been a good year for Rory McIlroy with a win – at the BMW PGA – and five further top ten finishes. Indeed, with the exception of his missed cut at the Irish Open the 25 year old hasn’t finished outside the top 25 in any event he has played in this year and so the 2011 US Open champion is a worthy second favourite.
If McIlroy can conquer his Friday jitters – he shot a 78 at the Scottish Open following an opening round of 64 and scored over par at the Open on each of his last two Friday rounds – then he could certainly be in the mix come Sunday afternoon. You can back him at 15/1.
The winner’s list at the Open in recent years reads like a Who’s Who? of modern golf and a name that would sit easily alongside recent victors would be Henrik Stenson. No Scandinavian golfer has ever won the Open but the Swede is in terrific form this year and has a good record at this event.
Stenson has recorded top seven finishes in six of his last seven starts including a T4 at the US Open and a T2 at the BMW International Open a couple of weeks ago. The 38 year old was second at the Open last year and T3 in 2010 and looks superb value at 16/1.
The same price can be had about Aussie fave, Adam Scott. The World number one is looking to strike gold and make it third-time lucky after consective near misses in his two previous attempts at lifting the Claret Jug.
Some outsiders to consider for the British Open
With eight top 20 finishes in fourteen events this year there could be some merit in an each-way bet on Charl Schwartzl. The South African has only made the cut in about half of his visits to the Open Championship, but when he does he generally scores well.
He has four top 25 finishes at the Open including a T22 finish when the tournament was last held at Hoylake in 2006. He could go well here at 60/1.
Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher shot a terrific final round 63 to take a share of fourth place at the Scottish Open last weekend and the Scot is currently in 6th place in this year’s Race to Dubai. The 39 year old from Linlithgow has been in great form in 2014, winning the Dubai Desert Classic and recording five further top 8 finishes on the European Tour.
Gallacher has two top 25 finishes at the Open in the last four years and we really think this could be a breakthrough tournament for the Scot. He looks terrific each-way value at 75/1.
Check out all our pre-tournament odds on the 2014 Open Championship over in the golf betting section of our main site.