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The Open Championship Preview and Picks
by Matt Fargo - 07/11/2011
The season's third Major is upon us as the Open Championship takes place at Royal St. George's Golf Club which is located in town of Sandwich in the county of Kent in southeast England. In 1894 it became the first Open venue outside Scotland and it has hosted the event 13 times. The last time Royal St. George's hosted was in 2003 and that year it was won by American Ben Curtis who was ranked 396th at the time.
Curtis was the only player under par that year which shows how difficult this course can be. Avoiding the bunkers and the rough is the key to scoring however with many of the fairways being upside down bowls, even drives hit down the middle can end up in trouble. With deep bunkers, plenty of wind and uneven lies, shot shapers will be able to controls things better and likely have a shot at winning.
Following the U.S. Open win by Rory McIlroy, it has now been five Majors that have been won by non-American players and there is a good chance that drought is extended after this week. This despite Americans winning the Open Championship seven times since 2000 and 11 of the last 16. Granted, three of those were from Tiger Woods who is not in the field this week.
While the last five Majors have been won by non-Americans, they have also been first time Majors winners. Not since the Masters in 2004 have there been six consecutive first time Majors winners. There are a slew of players that have an opportunity to make it six in a row, led by Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, currently ranked one and two in the world respectively.
Rory McIlroy (+700) is coming off his spectacular performance at the U.S. Open and he will look to become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2000 to with both Opens. Because of that recent performance at Congressional, he is listed as the favorite this week. He has limited experience in the Open Championship but in his three appearances he has finished T42, T47 and last year came in solo fifth.
Even though he lost his number one world ranking, Lee Westwood (+1000) is still considered the best player in the world without a Major. This is because he has been so close so many times without bringing it home. He has finished third or better at five of the last seven Majors including solo second in the Open last year. He also finished T3 in 2009 so he has been very close and this could finally be his year.
Luke Donald (+1000) has taken over the top spot in the world rankings and he comes into the Open on a roll, cruising to a four-stroke win in the Scottish Open. That was his third victory world wide as he was coming off a win at the BMW PGA Championship in May and the Accenture Match Play Championship in February. He finished T11 at the Open last year after a T5 in 2009.
Sergio Garcia (+2500) used to have title that Westwood currently possesses but he lost that when he lost his game. He is back to playing solidly once again and his T7 at the U.S. Open shows that. He has not won since 2008 but if there is a Major he is going to win, this is likely the one. When he was at Royal St. George's in 2003, he finished T10 so that experience, and success with it, can prove to be huge.
While Donald was the winner of the Scottish Open last week, Matt Kuchar (+3000) was low American at T10. He has been incredibly consistent as he has 19 top ten finishes over the last two seasons and he has not missed a cut in the Majors since the 2009 PGA Championship. He has finished T27 or better in the six Majors since then and is coming off a T14 at the U.S. Open which, his last event prior to the Scottish Open.
We will take a run with Bo Van Pelt (+10000) as the longshot. After a roller coaster start to the season, he has finished 14th or better in five straight events including a T14 at the U.S. Open. Prior to that, he finished T8 at the Masters so he has had a good run in the big tournaments. He finished T44 at the Open Championship last year which is nothing special but these odds are too good to pass up.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at The Open Championship – All for 1 Unit
Lee Westwood (+1000)
Luke Donald (+1000)
Sergio Garcia (+2500)
Matt Kuchar (+3000)
Bo Van Pelt (+10000)