The 150th Open Championship gets underway this week at the Old Course at St Andrews – Tiger Woods’ favourite course in the world, apparently.
And as he chases his 16th major title, there’s speculation this could be Tiger’s final visit to the Home of Golf.
Open Championship romantics may be tempted by Tiger
After setbacks, injuries, accidents, and the various slings and arrows that have latterly accompanied Tiger’s outrageous fortune, could the 46-year-old produce another sensational comeback as he seeks his fourth claret jug this week?
While we’d all love to see Woods roll back the years, dewy-eyed romantics will surely be tempted by the price of 80/1. More hard-nosed punters may decide that this week, there’s unlikely to be too many wonderful things about Tiger.
If Tiger can’t recapture glories this week, how about Rory McIlroy? He’s the current favourite, and certainly he’s been in decent nick in recent months.
Saying that, the Ulsterman has also shown a nasty habit of mucking up when it comes to moving day. McIlroy shot a third round 73 at the US Open to produce a t5 finish last month, and a 74 at the PGA Championship in May to finish eighth.
Those disappointments suggest that while 33-year-old’s game is in generally fine fettle, he hasn’t quite nailed the consistency thing. Will that change at St Andrews?
Will McIlroy live up to favourite status?
McIlroy missed out on playing here altogether back in 2015 when he was defending champion of the Open, having picked up an injury whilst playing football.
Prior to that, he shot a first round 63 in 2010 – at the time, tying for the lowest ever round at a major. He finished t3rd on that occasion – will he go the whole hog this week? He’s 10/1 to win, if you’re interested.
On a slightly related note, you can also back any player to shoot 61 or lower in any round at 20/1. And it’s worth bearing in mind that when the wind’s up, St Andrews is a beast; when the weather is more clement, it can be more forgiving. A sunny outlook is predicted for the weekend – does that mean low scores are a real possibility?
Rain or shine, Xander Schauffele should be feeling confident. The Californian is in stellar form, winning his last three tournaments; the Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour, the two-day JP MacManus Pro-Am in Ireland, and last week’s Genesis Scottish Open.
That is a crazy-hot run. And Xander is widely seen as one of the best players not yet to have won a major. He had a runner up finish at the Open back in 2018; can he land that first major at St Andrews?
Is Xan the man ready to win a major?
Xan the man is playing down his chances – and perhaps with good reason. Schauffele said he was tired and had “a lot of homework to do” as he prepares for this week’s event; the 28-year-old has never played this layout before. Still, three wins on the bounce – and that run may not have reached its climax yet. He’s 14/1 to win.
Whether they’re realistic contenders or not, the above will all obviously enjoy plenty of attention going into this week’s event. In terms of winners though, who else is worth a punt?
Defending champion Collin Morikawa is 30/1 to retain the Claret Jug. Morikawa has landed two majors in two years, having won the PGA Championship in 2020. Less happily, the American failed to make the cut at the Scottish Open last week.
If you’re looking for another option with recent major-winning pedigree, Matt Fitzpatrick fits the bill. He won the US Open last month, and has triumphed here before – albeit as a youngster, when winning the 2008 Boys Open.
Still, he’s a major winner now, and warmed up for this one with a tie for sixth at the Scottish Open at the weekend. Fitzpatrick is 16/1 to reign at St Andrews on Sunday.
Could Fleetwood flourish at St Andrews?
If you’re looking for a bigger price and don’t mind backing someone who could euphemistically be described as a bit of a character, burly Bryson DeChambeau is 125/1 to win this week.
That’s a hell of a price at first glance, and maybe Chambeau’s power can help him tame the shorter holes. But there’s obviously also a requirement for a more creative approach, at least when the wind’s up.
Known to display a certain tetchiness when things aren’t going his way, perhaps Bryson’s less charming side will be in evidence this week. The 28-year-old hasn’t played much this year either, having taken time out because of a wrist injury. His best finish at the Open is a less-than-inspiring T33 last year, too. Still, you never know.
So – who to back? It’s difficult to ignore Schauffele’s form – and personally, I can’t resist DeChambeau’s price even if there’s every chance he crashes and burns. But beyond those two, maybe Englishman Tommy Fleetwood is worth looking at too.
Fleetwood is 28/1 to win this week – a decent price for a man who finished t4 at the Scottish Open last week, and also managed a t5 at the PGA Championship back in May. He finished as runner-up in this event back in 2019, and could be ready to go one better on Sunday…
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