The Bet Enthusiast Report – Golf Open Championship
Lee Westwood is the only player in the history of the sport to have finished in the top 3 of all four majors without winning one. Sergio Garcia seems to have talked himself into believing that he is not good enough to win a major. Phil Mickelson won for the first time on a links course in the Scottish Open last week. Graeme McDowell combines links course experience with a major championship pedigree.
The British Open Championship (The Open) is the most prestigious tournament in golf. The winner is announced as the champion golfer of the year and the event has been described as the Olympics of golf. The Open is always played on links courses, so named as they link the sea and the land.
The winner on Sunday will receive the Claret Jug and his name will be inscribed on the trophy before the presentations which are generally staged about 15 minutes after the end of play. If one or more players are tied after 72 holes there is a play-off over four holes. The US Open is the only major at which a full additional 18 holes are played in the event of a tie.
The US Masters and US PGA Championship are decided using sudden death if more than 72 holes are needed to determine the winner. The Open seems to offer the best compromise between these extremes of resolving the outright winner in majors played in the United States. The Open is the only Grand Slam event not played in that country.
The 2013 Open Championship is being played at Muirfield in East Lothian near Edinburgh on the east coast of Scotland. The club is known for its uncompromising rules which means lady members are not allowed and not even Tiger Woods can begin a practice round before 7am. Regardless of these traditions that some may describe as archaic Muirfield is a classic links course and a true test of golf.
At just over 7000 yards the course is short by modern standards and especially so in the context of major championship golf. Muirfield is the only course on the current Open rota that does not have a par of 72 and its mark one shot less makes it rare by today’s standards. There are just three par 5s and the usual quota of short and medium length holes.
Despite a wet winter and spring the course will have been hardened by the recent spell of hot and dry weather. The forecast for the Edinburgh area for the rest of the week suggests the Open will be played in good scoring conditions but the local climate brings with it particular demands. Hitting the greens in the correct number of shots will be a key skill.
With four par 4s below 400 yards in length and three reachable par 5s there will be plenty of eagle and birdie opportunities. However, fast running, undulating greens will be difficult to hit and tricky pin placements will also add to the challenge. Players will be confronted with many shots from 50 yards or less from the greens and misplaced approach strokes will also put an emphasis on this type of shot. Therefore, scrambling becomes another key attribute.
It is an age old debate about who is the best player to never win a major. Lee Westwood would be in many lists, especially as he holds that unique record of top 3 finishes in each major without winning one. Tee to green Westwood is arguably the best player in the world but his medium length putting has cost him many chances of winning that elusive major.
Westwood was brought up in Worksop in the Midlands and lived in that town near Nottingham until last year. At the end of 2012 Westwood moved his family to Florida where he can practice all year and hone is game in a temperate climate. His short game has improved since the move and given just an average week on the greens Westwood has a great chance at Muirfield
In 1999 Sergio Garcia finished second behind Tiger Woods in the US PGA Championship as a teenager. At the time it would have been hard to predict that he would still be striving for a major championship breakthrough. Sergio is one of the best ball strikers in the world and a good fit for Muirfield.
The problem with the player formerly known as El Nino seems to be in the mind. He has the ability to win a major but has become obsessed with technique or lack of it at times of most intense pressure. He seems to have lost the swagger of old when he just used his natural ability to put together a score while he now lets analysis overcome his golfing instincts.
Phil Mickelson was heartbroken when he wasted a great opportunity to win the US Open last month, the title he craves most. He has now finished second six times in the national championship of his country. The blue eyed boy of US golf played two poor pitch shots in the final round of the US Open and that cost him the title.
Lefty has been a regular visitor to Britain for two decades. He finally won a tournament in this country and on a links course when he beat Branden Grace in a play off at the Scottish Open. His record in the Open is patchy and he is not at his best when there is a premium on accuracy over distance. However, Mickelson’s short game makes him a leading contender this week.
In his last eight tournaments Graeme McDowell has either missed the cut or won. He has won titles on both main tours this season and looks to have the ideal game for Muirfield. He learnt to play the game on the Portrush links course in Northern Ireland so won’t be fazed if the weather does turn nasty. McDowell is not the best driver in the world but he has the temperament to keep his form at the business end of tournaments.
McDowell holed the winning putt to win the Ryder Cup for Europe in 2010. He also won the US Open that year, the most mentally and physically demanding tournament on the schedules. The Irish player scores highly for scrambling and has the type of solid all round game that is often required to win the British Open. In this wonderful year for British sport he would be a worthy home grown champion in Scotland this week.
Paddy Power are offering 10 places on the Open to new customers plus £100 worth of free bets.
Otherwise 7 places to existing customers which is better than most.
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