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Open Championship Preview

   by Matt Fargo - 07/13/2010

Home of Golf. Those three words are all it takes to describe The Old Course at St. Andrews, the host course for this year’s Open Championship. Back in 1764, it went from 22 holes to 18 holes which became the accepted layout we now know today. It hosted its first Open Championship in 1873, and this year's event will mark the 28th time the Old Course will host a British Open. It is fitting that it is the host as this is the 150th Open Championship so what better place to conclude a century and a half of golf.

Links golf is like no other and in Scotland, it is surely like no other. St. Andrews sets the precedent and shows that the gameplan is to actually play the holes from pin to tee in order to set up the approach shots. The targets are small despite the greens being mammoth in size so precision is a must. There is just one water hazard on the entire track but that is made up with 112 bunkers, some so deep that players cannot even see out of them. And then of course there is the weather, which expects to play a role this week.

The horse for the course of late has been Tiger Woods (+350) who is a pretty heavy favorite this week despite his struggles this season. He has won the last two Open Championships that have been contested at the Old Course, winning in 2000 by eight shots and winning in 2005 by five shots. That was the old Tiger and the present Tiger has yet to make a roar in 2010. Could this finally be the breakout?

Phil Mickelson (+1200) has been seeing odds pretty close to Tiger but not here and that is for a reason. He has just one top ten in 16 Open Championship appearances, and this is his first since 2008 after missing last year due to family issues. It is surprising how much he struggles in this event and while missing the cut three times, he has never missed it at St. Andrews as he has finished 40th, 11th and 60th.

The hot player on tour right now is Justin Rose (+2000) and it is hard not to look past him. He was a Sunday stumble away from winning three straight events as he sandwiched a 9th place finish at the Travelers with wins at the Memorial and AT&T. He has not contended in the Open Championship since finishing T4 as an amateur in 1998 at Royal Birkdale but a T12 in 2007 at Carnoustie and a T13 last year at Turnberry certainly helps.

The last major, the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, was won by Graeme McDowell (+2000) and he is now in everyone’s radar as he has vaulted into the top 20. He loves the Old Course as he carded a 62 in the first round of the 2004 Dunhill Links and in 2005, he bounced back from a nightmarish eight at 17 on Saturday to post a 67 on Sunday, the lowest score on the day, which lifted him into the top 12 behind Woods.

Reigning champion Stewart Cink (+5000) has history on his side as prior to his win, the last two champions did it back-to-back as both Woods and Padraig Harrington won consecutive Claret Jugs. However, he hasn't won since that triumph and owns just four top tens in 22 starts during that span. The pressure of a major is gone but he missed the cut in his last St. Andrews appearance back in 2005.

Ian Poulter (+2500) contended in the Open Championship in 2008 as he finished solo second behind Harrington, four shots back but he missed the cut last year and missed it badly. He did prove he belonged in the upper echelons of golf when he won the WGC-Accenture Match Play in February and he followed that up with a T10 at the Masters and started strong at the U.S. Open before faltering over the weekend.

Another Englishman whose name comes up as a possible breakthrough is Paul Casey (+3500). It was supposed to be last year when he was third in the world and already had won three times but a rib injury put him outside the ropes for months. He is healthy again and inspired. He has put in extra preparation for this week as he looks to improve upon his best Open Championship finish, a T7 back in 2008.

One of the young guns is Martin Kaymer (+3500) who has been playing solid for some time now. He won the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship back in January by one stroke over Poulter and two strokes over Rory McIlroy and he has five top tens worldwide this year. This includes a T8 at the U.S. Open last month. He has played in just two Open Championships but made the weekend both times.

Ross Fisher (+4000) made the cut in all four Majors last year and finished with the best combined score of all players that did so. He missed the cut at the Masters, THE PLAYERS and U.S. Open this year but playing near home is different. He is known as a great wind player and is in good form with a top ten at the Scottish Open last week. His recent Open Championship finishes are T13 and T39 the last two years.

Charl Schwartzel (+7000) is a solid longshot as he is having a great year on both tours but is still a relative unknown which is good in the betting circles. He has three top tens on the PGA Tour as well as a T16 in the U.S. Open and on the European Tour, he has the most top tens, top fives and consecutive cuts made of any player. This includes two wins in Europe early in the season.

Recommended Tournament Win Six Pack at the Open Championship – All for 1 Unit

Justin Rose +2000

Ian Poulter +2500

Paul Casey +3500

Martin Kaymer +3500

Ross Fisher +4000

Charl Schwartzel +7000

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