The Open Championship returns to its rightful home this week, the birthplace of golf– St. Andrews.
This is one of golf’s cornerstones. Whereas the Masters is hosted at the same venue each subsequent season, every other major bounces around. Sure, there are iconic locations for the US Open (Pebble Beach, Oakmont, Shinnecock) and the PGA Championship (Baltustrol, Oak Hill), but none wear the face of golf better than The Open Championship at St. Andrews.
Built some 500 years ago, St Andrews has proven the test of time. Tiger, Jack, Seve and Snead have all been crowned on its sacred grounds. Throw in others like Nick Faldo, Bobbys (Locke and Jones) and great Australian Peter Thomsen and there’s no arguing the winners this venue has produced.
Add to the fact that the Grand Slam is in play for the first time since 2002 and there’s reason to set the alarms early in the states…
This year, the winner will receive a record sum of money, $1.8 million and the overall tournament purse is up over $10 million. The tournament increase to the winner will prove to be a nice little $275,000 increase from 2014 when Rory McIlroy won his 1st Open.
Now to address the people who debate as to whether the event is “The Open Championship” or “The British Open,” I’m getting sick of the petty backlash. You aren’t a conformist if you adhere to either titles, but here are my thoughts:
- It truly is the most “open” event in the world
- It doesn’t rob anything from the US Open, Masters or PGA being called “The Open”
- It’s the only major championship NOT hosted in the United States, let the world have this one.
- It’s so legalistic. Besides, The Open Championship looks cleaner and sharper than “The British Open.” I will still always in conversation refer to it as “the British” when discussing past winners and events.
- Watch this video on GolfDigest.com on the issue
Boy though, does The Open really push it. “The One?” Well, like I said, let this one go. I mean, this video done by their team is amazing:
Moving on, this year’s installment will never completely disappoint, but it’s hard not to be a bit heartbroken with the news on Rory McIlroy. This could have been the major that featured the last 4 major champions, the two heros of the sport and the origin of golf’s next great rivalry.
But it isn’t so.
Rory, heal fast please. Let’s hope one months time is enough time to see him at the PGA in August.
St. Andrews Crumpets
- Check out St. Andrews’ Hell’s Bunker and read about it here
- A public golf course, any person in the world willing to travel, can step foot on the grounds of one of the first golf courses in the world
- No golf on Sundays– Read more here.
- The Road Hole is one of the most famous holes in the world, where golfers must hit a blind tee shot over a corner of replica railway sheds, which lie beyond the out of bounds wall.
- Due to World War II, there were no events 1940-1945. England’s Dick Burton won in ’39 and Snead triumphed in ’46
- Here is an interesting article by Doug Ferguson regarding course record
- In 1958, the town St Andrews presented Bobby Jones with the key to the city, only the second American to ever receive the honor (Benjamin Franklin was the other). Read Jones’ comments on St. Andrews
“If I had to select one course upon which to play the match of my life, I should have selected the Old Course.” He went on, saying, “I could take out of my life everything but my experiences here in St. Andrews and I would still have had a rich and full life.”
John Daly won here in 1995. Don’t ever forget this outfit and that hair…
Winds don’t seem to be kicking too hard this week, but it should be crisp and wet this week, at least somewhat.
When the winds lay down a bit, the Old course become much more scorable, as is true with most courses worldwide.
Full Field & Featured Groups
Click here for a link to the entire 2015 Open at St. Andrews field.
Take a look at some of the event’s featured groups here.
There’s a few pairings taking social media:
— Robert Lusetich (@RobertLusetich) July 13, 2015
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Last 5 Champs
- 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
This Week’s Picks: The 2015 Open Preview
FIVE Mates From the Fairway (Contenders)
If you have a crush on Jordan Spieth, you mustn’t feel alone. How could you not? The kid is a purebred, pureblood superstar of the game. Anything he touches, turns to gold.
He’s impossible to leave off the list of contenders.
Spieth was looking to this Open Championship at St. Andrews even minutes after his Masters triumph in April. He talked extensively after the round about the special nature of St. Andrews and how it’s “one of the best places in the world.” He even predicted a second-leg to the Grand Slam.
The only thing working against Spieth seems to be his play at the John Deere Classic. And by ‘play,’ I mean the fact that he played at all. The jet lag will be the only thing working against him this week. Hey, treat it like college. He should still be in school, so sleepless nights and cramming for a test is no big thing.
I’ve learned this one thing in 2015: Don’t bet against Jordan Spieth.
I won’t this week. He’ll contend for sure.
I had Stenson as my US Open champion last month and an opening round of 65 seemed like a good start. It wasn’t enough though, as Stenson slipped down the leaderboard and out of favor with Chambers Bay. His T27 finish was indicative of inconsistent play.
But I can’t seem to resist when it comes to including Stenson in major championship picks. His three top-3 finishes in Opens since 2008 (including one last time at St. Andrews in 2010) should have you licking your chops as much as I am licking mine. The 2013 Open could have easily been his.
No player in the world has hit the ball better tee-to-green (statistically) than Stenson. He’s a world wonder.
His experience on this course is plentiful and his play of late is solid. I really like Stenson this week to compete again. But I can’t go with him to close it out.
With this many good golfers and so few majors every year, it seems almost inevitable that every elite golfer in today’s game will not “get theirs.” Is Sergio part of this group? Is it possible the young man from 1999 PGA Championship glory never claims an Open Championship which seems to be so rightfully his?
Sergio has been knocking on the door for years and continued to knock last year. In fact, last year he was pounding at the door. His T2 finish (behind Rory) was his 8th top-10 at Open Championships (2005 at St. Andrews exists among them). His last start at an Open at St. Andrews was a T14 in 2010.
Every event on the PGA Tour this year has been a top-40 for Sergio. Six top-10s and two 2nds show the 35-year old’s game is still in tact in a big way.
And remember: Sergio’s emoji game is on point:
I hate seeing that! Poor @DJohnsonPGA he deserved a chance on the play off tomorrow!😤😤
— Sergio Garcia (@TheSergioGarcia) June 22, 2015
Earlier in the year, this guy was playing some of the best golf in the world. I took a look at him at Riviera after going top-6 in 4 consecutive starts on the European Tour. The travel proved to be difficult and acclimating didn’t play in as he missed the cut. Since then? More great golf!
In fact, just two weeks ago, Bernd claimed victory at the Open de France. The win came on the heels of a weekend where he went 66-65 to close out the win. Last August, Bernd was in contention Saturday night at the PGA Championship and as Rory’s running mate, gave a futile effort at the Wanamaker.
Only one made CUT in 3 Opens (T64 in 2013) make him a player with no where near the experience to play well, but I’ll tell you what, you can be assured he has the confidence heading in to play well.
Maybe he should have been my sleeper….
A Mate From the Fescue (Sleeper)
I’m really liking Victor this week, despite the fact he’s played like a battered hog in 2015. A month and a half ago, he was closing out an event in Dubai to the tune of a second round 84 and the aloof Frenchman’s 2015 season seemed to be completely out of touch.
He must have rededicated himself, because one month later, he was back to locking top-20s. Seven of his last 10 rounds have been in the 60s.
Now, Dubuisson has more than some good feeling heading into the Open– he’s also registered some hardline stats and numbers on St. Andrews. A 62 in 2012 is the highlight among those.
Don’t sleep on Victor this week, even if he sleeps on himself.
The Champion Golfer of the Year
The remarkable redemption story will be complete on Sunday afternoon. Dustin Johnson will rise from the ashes of his Chambers Bay disappointment to assume the position atop the game of golf, finally cherishing his coveted major championship.
The Open has a knack for producing magical, storybook headlines. How about Darren Clarke’s win here in 2011 as a 40-something, first-time major champion? How about Phil’s win in 2013 with his caddy Bones shedding tears off the 18th green? Tom Watson’s near miraculous win? Tiger’s win after his father’s death? Convinced yet of The Open’s ability to induce magic?
Another note: the “best to never win a major” cast seem to break through at the Open Championship more than the other majors. Greg Norman, David Duval and Tom Lehman all wore the dispiriting titles throughout their careers before claiming a Claret Jug, as their first (and only) crowning jewels.
DJ will be the next to shed the moniker and win.
Dustin Johnson first scared the Open in 2011 with a T2 finish and followed it up with another top-10 the subsequent year. Even his play at St. Andrews last time around found him in a T14.
The last winner here, Louis Oosthuizen in 2010, drove the ball like an absolute maniac. He hit 85.9% of his (massive St. Andrews) fairways while averaging 319.2 yards per drive. The combination proved lethal.
The other player in golf who is doing that right now? Dustin Johnson.
I say he repeats his potent ball-striking and the splendor will lead to his long-awaited major. My winner, the story of redemption.
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My Successes This Year
I’m hoping to keep the good vibes going, as this year’s been a good one for me. I’ve forecasted a few good ones and although I know bragging isn’t necessarily good, but hey, I’ve struck out so much this year, let me enjoy the good ones!
- Brooks Koepka’s win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open (Read Preview here)
- Brandt Snedeker’s win at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am (Read Preview here)
- Near miss (2nd) with Stenson at Bay Hill (Read Preview here)
- J.B. Holmes win at the Wells Fargo Championship (Read the Preview Here)
- Bubba Watson’s win at the Travelers (Read the Preview here)