Fowler In Form For Open Win
The British Open takes place at St Andrews this week, with Scottish Open winner Rickie Fowler hoping to go one better than his runner-up spot last year.
The British Open is the oldest of the four Majors, and the third in the calendar year. Since 1979, it has always been staged on the third weekend in July at one of nine links courses, played in rotation. Although it is often considered that American players are not at home on links courses, it is worth noting that twelve of the last twenty British Open winners came from the USA.
This year the British Open returns to St Andrews, the home of golf, for the 29th time. This grand old course provides the usual trials of traditional links golf: punishing rough, tricky undulations and unpredictable sea gales, but also offers a couple of distinct challenges. The enormous double greens take some getting used to and some of the 110 individually-named bunkers are the stuff of golfers’ nightmares.
In The Bunker
The absence of Rory McIlroy leaves Jordan Speith as the short-priced antepost favourite as he bids to bag his third Major in a row.
His convincing victory at the John Deere Classic showed his form remains good, but it wasn’t the ideal preparation for a tilt at St. Andrews. Links golf on the Scottish coast presents a particular challenge and the fact that he’s never played the course or broken the top 35 in either of his previous appearances at the British Open is enough to put me off backing him at 13/2.
Rickie Fowler’s British Open warm-up couldn’t have gone much better as he clinched the Scottish Open at odds of 20/1. He improved as the tournament progressed, which bodes well for St Andrews and it is worth noting that he’s made a habit of peaking for the big events in recent months.
He finished second at the British Open last year and at 18/1 he’s worth backing to win his first Major.
Branden Grace hasn’t made much of an impact in four visits to the British Open, but his career is still on an upward curve, as demonstrated by his fourth at the US Open last month, his first top ten finish in a Major. He has strong form on links courses, including victory in the 2012 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and having already won twice this season, he’s a good bet at 40/1 to take his career to the next level.
The final name to add to your shortlist is Matt Kuchar. He hasn’t enjoyed much success at the British Open, only making the top ten once but at big odds he is an interesting prospect this time. He was narrowly beaten by Rickie Fowler at the Scottish Open last week, a result that represents his best to date on a British links course, and at 50/1 he offers a touch of value at St Andrews.
*Prices correct at time of publication.