07/11/2016

Welcome to the 145th Open Championship from Royal Troon.

This year’s Open follows the historic St. Andrews in 2015, where we missed the #SpiethSlam and witnessed Zach Johnson icing a place for himself in golf’s hall of fame. The history at the Open can be rivaled nowhere else, an event where the fans are among the most aware in the sport. The players enjoy playing such historic venues and the fans welcome them with open arms, and respectful ovations. The Open Championship is always a great week for golf.

It takes place a week early this year, in an attempt to alleviate the scheduling of the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Let’s take a look at the event, the course, the history, and a few names to play well this week.

Course: Royal Troon

Heading back to Royal Troon for the first time since 2004. Todd Hamilton was the winner the last time around, edging out 4-time major champion Ernie Els in a 4-hole aggregate playoff. Hamilton was likely the most unknown major champion in the past 50 years.

Royal Troon has crowned 5 winners in 8 Opens where the major is their lone victory. Now this doesn’t mean the course hasn’t hosted legends either. Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer, and Bobby Locke have all won here. The venue will host the Open for the ninth time in it’s history.

A par-71 measured out at a hair over 7,100 yards, the Royal Troon is highlighted by it’s front nine par-3, the “Postage Stamp” green. The course lays along the sea on the southwest shore of the U.K. island, located in Troon, South Ayrshire. The winds off the sea and moisture have a heavy influence on scoring.

2004 Open Championship final leaderboard:

Screenshot 2016-07-09 17.47.40


Weather

weather

Winds don’t seem to be kicking too hard this week. Crisp temperatures, with low levels of precipitation. Should provide players the opportunity to score.


Full Field & Featured Groups

Click here for a link to the entire 156-man 2016 Open at Royal Troon field.

Notable omissions:

 


Last 6 Champs

  • 2015: Zach Johnson and his #SpiethSlam robbery (Recap here)
  • 2014: Rory McIlroy wins his first, and proves father correct (Recap here)
  • 2013: Phil Mickelson’s Realization of Glory (Recap here)
  • 2012: Ernie Els’ Improbably “Comeback” (Recap here)
  • 2011: Darren Clarke, the Ageless, Drunken Wonder
  • 2010: Louis Oosthuizen and a Driving Display for the Ages

putting series


This Week’s Picks: The 2016 Open Preview

FOUR Mates From the Fairway (Contenders)

 

Andy Sullivan

He burst onto the scene last year with three European Tour wins, his first trip to major championships, and a hole-in-one heard round the world. In fact, Sullivan’s story en route to professional golf is an incredible one. A former shelf stocker, now a relevant player at the highest level of golf.

Last month at the U.S. Open at Oakmont, Sullivan found his way into contention. Though eventually slipping into a finish of T23, the play was enough to turn a lot of heads. All fingers point toward Sullivan as a player to watch at Royal Troon this year.

In his last three starts in Europe, the Englishman has finished T21, T5, and T6, most recently at the Scottish Open. Currently ranked 40th in the world, Sullivan is no longer a player to sleep on. The Europeans don’t keep a robust list of statistics, but with what we’re given on Sullivan, he hits it 290 yards plus, hits over 70% of his greens and putts it well, too. On the PGA Tour (in limited starts), he’s gained strokes with the putter.

Late on Sunday, there’s indication he’ll be around. I’m looking Sullivan’s way this week.


Phil Mickelson

Phil ain’t a bad pick this year. And here’s why.

  1. He’s proven he can win an Open. 
  2. He’s played well at Royal Troon before.
    1. In 2004, the last time we came to Royal Troon, Phil gave the Open Championship the best run of his career to that point, finishing T3. It wasn’t until 2011 where a second place victory, then subsequently 2013 and his win, where topped his performance here in 2004
  3. He’s in good form.
    1. Aside from his MC at the U.S. Open, 4 of Mickelson’s last 6 starts have been top-30 finishes with two of those top-5s. For the season, he’s statistically 4th in the overall strokes gained and 4th in strokes gained putting. Everything about his game represents some of the best golf of his career.
    2. He finished T13 at 7-under par in last week’s Scottish Open

Phil is a player I’m not going to overlook when we head back to Royal Troon. Obviously his 2013 win has shut down the talk of “Phil can’t play the Open,” but those naysayers will still exist heading into this year’s playing. I think Phil’s creativity will serve him well this week and he’ll find his way into the backend of the top-10.


Brandt Snedeker

He can play in adverse conditions, that’s for sure. His victory this spring at Torrey Pines, with one of the season’s best rounds, cemented his place as one of the Tour’s preeminent grinders.

Now Sneds wasn’t here at Royal Troon in 2004, nor did he make the cut in last year’s playing, but he has a decent track record overseas. In 2012, he was in contention, having held the 36-hole lead in the event later won by Ernie Els. Even in 2013, Snedeker finished with a nice T11 at Muirfield.

Aside from his win back in February, Snedeker

He’s 7th in the FedEx Cup, 23rd in the world, and has the chance to add another solid major championship performance to his resume. I see Sneds in contention.


Rory McIlroy

So much talk of Jason. So much talk of Jordan. Much ado about Dustin. Rory hears it all.

I’d be shocked if Rory wasn’t in contention this week.

Off the tee he’s the strongest player in the world (even considering Day) and Rory’s the feast or famine type player. He was famine at the U.S. Open in June, and I think he’ll be feast at Royal Troon.

A winner recently at the Irish Open in late May, McIlroy’s summer has yet to have an exclamation mark. He’ll have one this week, in contention until the end.


Other Contenders:

  • Dustin Johnson: Does it need to be stated why he’s a contender here? Two straight wins and playing the best golf in the world.
  • Jason Day: The world’s #1 player with the world’s #1 putting and the overall, world’s #1 game. Hard to think he won’t find a way into contention in Scotland.

A Mate From the Fescue (Sleeper)

Danny Lee

danny lee

Sure thing, Timmy. Danny.

Danny Lee is a player to give some serious consideration to this week at the Open Championship.

Now Lee hasn’t been in the best of form lately. He hasn’t missed a cut since April, but his last Tour three starts have had him finish outside the top-50.

What’s given me optimism with this pick though, was his play before that on Tour. Three top-25s since May has Lee cashing checks and playing a lot of golf. And the guy can play a lot of golf– to the tune of like 30 events per season.

Also, his performance at last week’s Scottish Open, where rounds of 71–66–70–69 put him inside the top-3, two strokes outside the winner’s circle.  Lee’s a sleeper and a guy to give a look heading into the Open.


The Champion Golfer of the Year

Adam Scott

Enough is enough, Adam Scott’s pursuit is over. He’ll finally claim his Claret Jug this year at Royal Troon.

One of the few golfers with the youth to be a world-class contender here, but with enough experience to have seen this venue under Open Championship conditions (having played 4 rounds here back in 2004 where he made the cut), Scott is the prime contender to consider this year. Now I’ve considered, and made him my champion.

Statistically, Scott is playing elite golf in 2015. His game approach-to-green/tee-to-green (separate stats) is the best on the PGA Tour. Despite having a putter which has somewhat struggled, Scott has put together a good enough season to rank him 3rd in the FedEx Cup. His game is in form, fits the venue wonderfully, and fits Open Championship golf. He’s been winning this year, too.

At the Open, Scott has been inside the top-30 every year since 2007 except one (2009, MC) and he’s been inside the top-10 each of the past 4 years. The completeness of his game, his ball striking, and his mentality make him a premier Open Championship style player. He should have had his Claret Jug in 2012. There’s no doubt he’s still seeking revenge and redemption.

He’ll get it in the sweetest way this year. Adam Scott, your Champion Golfer.