Colin Montomerie never won a regular major but can’t stop winning at the highest level since joining the Seniors Tour. He looks overpriced to finish in the top 10 of the Open Championship this week at the Royal Troon course he knows well. Rory McIlroy is not quite in the form to win his fifth major but looks well placed to be best British and Irish player. Henrik Stenson can outscore other players from continental Europe while Hideki Matsuyama is a standing dish to be leading Asian.
Monty’s Dad was the secretary at Troon when little Colin was growing up. He knows the course like the back of his hand but in his younger days the pressure was too much. Monty was playing on his home turf but golf is not an exact science and he never looked like winning a Troon Open. It’s common these days for an old stager to play well early in a major (usually Bernhard Langer) and then fade. Montgomerie could get in the mix but drop down the leader board over the weekend but still reward punters who back him at 30/1 to finish in the top 10.
Montgomerie won the European Order of Merit eight times but never won a conventional major or any tournament in the United States. Since turning 50 and competing against his own age group Monty has won three majors all in the US. That means he killed two birds with one stone and is playing well enough to figure in the Open over the first two rounds. The younger brigade will overhaul him but the price is too big for him to stay in touch and end the tournament high up the leader board.
The Scottish veteran qualified for the Open at Gailes Links with rounds of 66 and 71. He now plays in the third major of the season for the first time since 2010. He is familiar with the course, proven in recent weeks on a links challenge and has a good skill’s profile in the context of Troon. Finding greens in regulation has always been a strength and Monty is a good scrambler and putter. He looks nailed on to be top Senior but the better option is to back him to make the top 10 at Troon this week.
McIlroy is the best qualified to be the top golfer from the UK including Ireland. The other obvious contenders such as Justin Rose and Danny Willett can be opposed for various reasons, such as form and links experience. Shane Lowry is of interest but he missed the cut by a mile at the Scottish Open and still could have some mental scars from not winning the US version despite a four shot lead ahead of the fourth round. McIlroy could not defend last year but strong form includes a win at the Irish Open and another five top four finishes this season. The 2014 Open champion can have a good week without quite winning again.
Stenson has never won a major but that is the only missing item on a great CV. He has reached a career high of number four in the world rankings but dipped badly due to loss of form and injury. He has come back a better player and more mentally strong but his major winning days may be behind him against the younger breed of top players. Stenson has made the cut in the last three Opens and is third in the greens in regulation standings on the US Tour. He is competent in the other key aspects of the game and his profile can make him be the best scorer from the continent.
Hideki Matsuyama is a potential future major champion with a good record in the Open. He has made the last three cuts in the championship and has the ability and temperament for links golf. The man from Japan has contended in the past at the highest level and could do so again this week. Matsuyama can overcome a far from perfect skills’ set to finish best of the Asians but a top 10 for Monty is still a better bet.