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British Open Preview

   by Matt Fargo - 07/15/2009

The third Major of the golf season takes place this week with the Open Championship at Turnberry in Ayrshire, Scotland. This will be the fourth time the Open has been played here and the first since 1994 when Nick Price finished birdie-eagle-par and held off Jesper Parnevik to win by a stroke. The other times were in 1986 (Greg Norman) and 1977 (Tom Watson). The reason for the time off from the rotation was due to traffic issues to the course but all has been fixed.

Turnberry has been lengthened substantially, typical of most courses this decade at the majors. The weather plays a role here more than any other Major and that will be the case again. The early forecast shows that the sky will be overcast with a bit of wind and rain thrown in. The wind could be the big factor as it not only hurts those players with high ball flights but it also dries the course out. That means dry fairways and ball heading into the rough which will be jail this week.

Every Major tournament starts and ends with Tiger Woods (+165) and why shouldn’t it? He has 14 Major championships and without one this year, he will come in extra motivated if that is even possible. He missed the Open Championships last season and this will be his first ever walk around the Turnberry track. That may not seem like a way to win here but Woods has won five Majors at courses that he was playing competitively for the first time. He can’t be counted out.

Two-time defending champion Padraig Harrington (+2200) will be a favorite for a lot but I think he needs to be backed with caution. Harrington has missed the cut in eight of his last 14 starts, including five in a row. For a three-time Major champion over the last two years, it seems odd that Harrington would change his swing but that is exactly what he has done. He could be the first player to win the Open Championship three straight times since 1956 when Peter Thompson from Australia grabbed his third straight.

The sexy pick this week could be Martin Kaymer (+2500) who has moved up to 11th in the OWGR, following two straight victories at the Open de France and the Scottish Open. He did miss the cut at the Masters and U.S. Open this year but he has two other top five finishes and both of those came on Euro soil so he is playing well on a similar track. He has played in only one other Open Championship and that came last season where he finished +23 which was a fourth to last place finish.

When will Sergio Garcia (+2000) finally break through for a Major championship? Many thought last season was the year following a win at The Players and with Woods missing the final two Majors of the season but it was not to be. He finished T51 in 2008 which was a big disappointment considering his playoff loss in 2007 and his T5 in 2006. Still, he has played very well over the last 10 seasons at the Open and we could see him near the top on Sunday.

One solid links player who might be flying under the radar is Ian Poulter (+2500). He finished second in last year's British Open and he has been playing very well this season. It includes a T20 in the Masters and a T18 in the U.S. Open so his recent Majors track record has been solid. He has finished in the top 25 in the European Order of Merit every year since 2001 so he has proven to have success on these type courses and he could be the one that breaks through with that first Major.

The young gun this year is Rory McIlroy (+1800) who comes in a surprising second in the odds to Woods. It is surprising not because of his ability but because of his lack of experience. He played in the 2007 Open Championship as an amateur and had a solid T42 and this year, he brought home a T10 at the U.S. Open and a T20 at the Masters so maybe the experience may not matter. This may be the best suited Major for the Irishman, although his high ball flight could hurt so and he may be a year or two away to make a serious run.

Recommended plays for the Open Championship

Last week, we were able to bring home a winner with Steve Stricker (+1000) and will look to cash again with moderate favorites as well as our safety valve.

Sergio Garcia (+2000) 2 Units

Ian Poulter (+2500) 2 Units

Tiger Woods (+165) 2 Units

AT&T National

Hunter Mahan (+1500) 2 Units L

Tiger Woods (+175) 2 Units W

K.J. Choi (+5000) ½ Unit L

John Deere Classic

Steve Stricker (+1000) 2 Units W

Zach Johnson (+1500) 2 Units L

Kevin Sutherland (+4000) 1 Unit L

YTD +8 Units

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