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The Open Championship Preview

   by Matt Fargo - 07/17/2012

We have hit the third major of the season as the 141st Open Championship takes place from Royal Lytham & St. Annes in Lancashire, England. This is the 11th time that Royal Lytham & St. Annes has hosted the oldest major and the first since 2001. David Duval took home the Claret Jug that year as he won by three shots over Niclas Fasth and four shots clear of six other players including last year's Open Championship winner Darren Clarke.

Built in 1886, Royal Lytham & St. Annes is a true links course. It may be considered short at 7,086 yards but it is a par 70 and the weather conditions can make it feel a lot longer than it really is. Not helping matters are extremely small greens, tight fairways and 205 bunkers. There is minimal rain in the forecast but the real concern is the wind which should be howling all week. Controlling the ball in the gusty conditions will lead to hitting fairways which will lead to hitting greens.

With Webb Simpson's win at the U.S. Open last month, there have now been nine consecutive first time major winners. Call it coincidence but it is more about the parity that is on tour these days. After a long drought, American players have dominated the majors with three straight wins and they will be going for a fourth straight for the first time since 2004. History could be on their side as since 1995 at St. Andrews, Americans have won 11 of the 17 Open Championships.

Not since 2008 has there been a repeat major winner. Padraig Harrington is the last player to do so, winning the Open Championship and PGA Championship back-to-back. Since then there have been 14 different winners in majors and not one of those came from Tiger Woods. He owns three Open Championships, 2000 and 2005 at St. Andrews and 2006 at Royal Liverpool Golf Club and he could be a factor if he stays in the fairway. That has been his strength in his three wins this year.

Lee Westwood (+1,200) has been as close as anyone to his first major but has been unable to break through. In his last 17 majors, Westwood has finished in the top three seven times which are the most by any player in the modern era without a win. He also has eight top tens in his last 12 majors going back to the 2009 Open Championship and in this particular major, he has finished T3 and solo second since then.

Francesco Molinari (+2,500) is playing some of his best golf right now. He has two straight second place finishes but it wasn't because he faded. He shot a Sunday 64 at the Alstom Open de France, the best of the day to finish one back and last week lost in a playoff to Jeev Milkha Singh who shot the best round of the day. This year he had a T19 at the Masters and a T29 at the U.S. Open so majors do not scare him.

Graeme McDowell (+3,000) has not won any event since late in 2010, the same year he won the U.S. Open which was his first major. He was knocking on the door once again at Olympic Club but fell just short. His history in this major is not good as his best finish was a T11 in 2005 and has just once other top 20. Still, he hits the ball straight and if he keeps that up, his second major could be in his pocket.

Ernie Els (+4,000) has some excellent history on his side and he is having a very solid season. Els won the 2002 Open Championship at Muirfield and Royal Lytham & St. Annes has been very kind to him as he had a T3 in 2001 and a T2 in 1996. He has four top tens on the PGA Tour including a T9 at the U.S. Open and in his last 11 starts worldwide, he has been in the top ten five times.

Charl Schwartzel (+5,000) is getting some excellent odds this week. He has not made a lot of noise this year but he was around for the weekend in both majors and he has not missed a cut in a major since the 2009 U.S. Open. This is a span of 11 consecutive made cuts in majors including his win at the Masters in 2011. Over the stretch of these 11 majors, he has seven top 20's so expect him to be in the mix once again.

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

Lee Westwood (+1,200)

Francesco Molinari (+2,500)

Graeme McDowell (+3,000)

Ernie Els (+4,000)

Charl Schwartzel (+5,000)

Record to date after 26 events: +32.1 Units

Sony Open -5 Units

Humana Challenge -6 Units

Farmers Insurance Open +22 Units

Waste Management Phoenix Open -5 Units

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -5 Units

Northern Trust Open -5 Units

Accenture Match Play +7.1 Units

Honda Classic -5 Units

WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units

Transitions Championship +6 Units

Arnold Palmer Invitational -4 Units

Shell Houston Open +16 Units

The Masters -6 Units

RBC Heritage -5 Units

Valero Texas Open -4 Units

Zurich Classic of New Orleans +21 Units

Wells Fargo Championship +36 Units

THE PLAYERS Championship -5 Units

HP Byron Nelson Championship -5 Units

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial +11 Units

The Memorial -5 Units

FedEx St. Jude Classic -5 Units

U.S. Open -5 Units

Travelers Championship -5 Units

AT&T National -5 Units

Greenbrier Classic -5 Units

John Deere Classic +8 Units

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