It is time once again for the oldest of all golf tournaments which is of course The Open. Now in its 145th edition it is being held at Royal Troon in Scotland. This course has hosted many Opens before and has some great Open history associated with it. The Open was won here by South African Bobby Locke in 1950 and Ernie Els was beaten in a play-off by Todd Hamilton in 2004 when Royal Troon last hosted the event.
Being a traditional links layout, Royal Troon’s personality is heavily affected by the weather. It can be a placid layout in mild conditions but turn into a beast if the weather doesn’t bring it’s A-game. Wind dependant some par 3 holes only require a gap wedge, but this can turn into a driver and 7 iron if the players are hitting into the wind. As an old school links course it plays 9 holes out and 9 holes in, so in the prevailing wind it is likely that players will face 9 downwind holes and then have the second half straight into the wind. The wind in this part of the world can also switch leaving players with potentially 18 holes into the wind. To put the strength of the wind into perspective, some longer players could hit a drive over 410 metres with the wind and then use the same club and only achieve 150 metres into it. Royal Troon also has the fearsome Postage Stamp 8th hole. It may be short but its green is only 39m2 and takes real skill to hit when the wind is blowing.
I have to admit that the thought of playing true links golf is terrifying for most mid to high handicap golfers. Most of the pros playing this week will end over par. Just imagine how we would fair. You could hit a fantastic golf shot straight down the middle of the fairway, bounce on a sloping piece of fairway and land in the rough. The rough is treacherous…if you find your ball it is thick and long and takes great imagination to contort any type of reasonable shot. If your drive manages to stay on the fairway it could easily find one of the bunkers. In fact only one hole on the entire course does not have any bunkers. Once in a fairway bunker it is almost impossible to reach the green in regulation and a bogey quickly becomes a good result.
It is a challenge. It is supposed to be the ultimate golfing challenge. It is why they call the winner, the Champion Golfer of the Year. Zach Johnson is the defending Champion, but it is another Johnson (Dustin) who is the form player at the moment. The Open attracts many big names who have high hopes such as Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickleson, Henrik Stenson, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Bubba Watson, Graeme McDowell and many, many more household names.
We like to back the dark horses and for 2016 we are tipping Andy Sullivan or Brandon Grace for the win. We will see come Sunday !!!
Selected Sportsbet odds for a win:
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