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2013 British Open Preview 

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The British Open, as it is named, is obviously the third of four majors, but more important is the type of course it takes place on. Muirfield Golf Links in Gullane, East Lothian, Scotland... “yes there”, says the snarky, ignorant American in me. Last year Ernie Els captured the Claret Jug despite not qualifying to play in The Masters. As always, the British Open will be highlighted by a flat course with thick rough filled with dead tall grass, pot bunkers, and gigantic incredibly fast greens not to mention the weather. The Open Championship has provided us with a tournament with some really low scores in the past but even with the nice weather in the forecast I can’t see it. Last time the British Open was held here was 2002 when Ernie Els won in a playoff with a score of -6 (278).

4:00am - 3:00pm Thursday, ESPN (replays at 3-6pm and 7-10pm)

4:00am - 3:00pm Friday, ESPN (replays at 3-6pm and 7-10pm)

7:00am - 2:30pm Saturday, ESPN (replay at 7-10pm)

6:00am - 1:30pm Sunday, ESPN (replays at 3-6pm on ABC and 9-12 ESPN2)

Chris Berman trying to talk in a golf voice should be nice and annoying for four days.

Notable Thursday-Friday Tee Times (EST):

3:44am - 8:45am Bubba Watson, Nicolas Colsaerts, Dustin Johnson

Remember in the US Open when these three were a much anticipated tee time? All three out ruled out in my book after watching what they did at Merion. They were constantly slow and being put on the clock. They all looked absolutely miserable around each other and their play suffered. I have not even looked at the odds yet and it doesn’t matter to me. Only Colsaerts had a decent time in the trio at the US Open, but he was far from impressive. I don’t think they like each other all that much.

4:00am - 9:01am Nick Faldo, Tom Watson, Fred Couples

What a fantastic group. I am rooting for all three of these guys obviously, but I’m really rooting for Faldo. Part of me wants him to miss the cut and hopefully go back to the booth because he is just the best at in the sport at what he does. But the other half of me respects him and wants to root for him on the course once again. It would just be really fun, as it would with any of the three, they are all, for obvious reasons, fan favorites.

4:11am - 9:12am Justin Rose, Ernie Els, Brandt Snedeker

This years winner at the US Open, and one of the hottest guys on tour, paired with last year’s British Open champion and perhaps the best player without a major.

4:44am - 9:45am Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Phil Mickelson

Phil just won his first tournament in Scotland in 20 years as a tune up. Rory is in his element, despite being seemingly missing from this golf year. Rory almost feels like a bit of a darkhorse in this one, though something tells me this won’t be the only time he is paired with Phil.

9:01am - 4:00am Lee Westwood, Charl Schwartzel, Sergio Garcia

Powerful trio here. Lee Westwood might be faced with his best chance at grabbing a major here, there may be more on him later... Schwartzel is the only former champion but for some reason I feel completely 50/50 on the possibility of him winning here, not that it’s 50/50 that he will win but I am 50/50 on whether it’s possible for him to win. Sergio might have himself another meltdown. This is a course he could take advantage of and get out too a lead or at least to a position to compete before falling apart, we can only hope.

9:12am - 4:11am Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar, Luke Donald

Another trio of guys that could possibly win. This years winner at Augusta and two of the best players on the planet that are less a major championship trophy.

9:23am - 4:22am Rickie Fowler, Matteo Manassero, Hunter Mahan

15 of the last 17 major championships have been won by first time winners, yet it still feels like there is far too many that are still without one, including two in this group.

9:45am - 4:44am Tiger Woods, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen

Three previous winners here tee it off and all three have a chance to win yet again. They have all proven to play very well at these Scottish courses and all three could find themselves in contention on Sunday.

Let's break down the course...


Front Nine

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Hole 1: Par 4 447 yards

A great opening hole that is one of the most difficult opening holes in Scotland. This bunker as well as a few others guard the left side of the fairway which will provide the best line to the pin because of the bunkers short and right of the green. Immediately after this bunker the hole takes a right hand turn and running it up past this bunker could find one of a few others making it nearly impossible to get to the green. However, a tee shot on the left hand side of the fairway will have the option to run the ball up and create some magic.

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Hole 2: Par 4 364 yards

The shortest Par 4 on the course should produce some birdies. Hitting the fairway while avoiding the pot bunkers on the edge of the fairway should produce a short approach shot which should result in a lot of birdies.

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Hole 3: Par 4 377 yards

Another short Par 4 but as you can see the fairway narrows considerably taking away any advantage the longer hitters have. Just about everyone with a good tee shot will be playing from the area just shy of that narrowing fairway, which is shouldered by two pot bunkers. The approach shot will depend on the pin placement. If it is in the back part of the green a shot past the pin will create a scoring opportunity. But if it’s in the front three quarters you should see a lot of guys running the ball up. The front of the green will be wide open for the professionals who hit their tee shots just shy of that narrow area of the fairway and in any non back of the green pin placement scenario, the players will face an uphill putt.

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Hole 4: Par 3 226 yards

The first par three on the course is a longer one. I don’t know about you but I think I would be hitting my 3 hybrid as hard as I can trying to reach this hole. These guys will probably be hitting 6 or 7 iron into this block figure eight shaped green. On the left indent is a raised pot bunker and behind it is a deep down slope with some thick rough. On the right side is mostly very thick rough but coming up short results in a second shot from another pot bunker. Oh and by the way regardless of which side a tee shot misses the green, the second shot will be faced with a very difficult downhill chip.

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Hole 5: Par 5 559 yards

The first par 5 on the course will create one of the most difficult tee shots on the course. This is actually a par 5 where it may pay off to not hit the longball. Players that get greedy and win on their gamble here will have the advantage of a short second shot into a flat green that allows for a nice run up to the green. Regardless, most of the players in the tournament should be able to reach this green in two and be putting for an eagle on this two tiered green. If the pin is located in the left third there is a rather large slope to allow players to play their approach shots into to run it down towards the pin. With a right side pin placement the hole becomes far more difficult but there is still an opportunity to run the ball up into great position for an eagle putt. However, beware an approach without enough mustard will settle down into a bit of a gully on the right side of the green and along with being on the wrong side of the green it will create a difficult two putt.  

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Hole 6: Par 4 461 yards

Maybe the most demanding of the holes on the course. This is without a doubt one of the holes where par is a fine score. Making birdie here should result in a two shot swing with everyone else.

The tee shot is to a tight landing area heavily defensed by bunkers on the left hand side. A right side tee shot could result in a long run down the hill or could result in a shot that stops short on the top of the hill creating a long approach shot. The front of the green is protected by a short right greenside bunker and a deep downslope to some thick rough on the left. A deep left approach shot could end up with a third shot out of a pot bunker into a crowd-filled backdrop. As if this hole wasn’t difficult enough the green area really turns the pressure on.

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Hole 7: Par 3 184 yards

The shortest hole on the course. This hole will likely result in a tee shot into some heavy winds. This is without a doubt a birdie hole but selecting the right club to play into the wind is the most difficult part of it.

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Hole 8: Par 4 441 yards

Not the longest par 4 of all time but is made much longer by the numerous fairway bunkers along the right side of this left to right dogleg of a hole. The landing area is so narrow most players will likely decide to pull out a wood off the tee to be safe and then hit a safe approach shot into the green playing mostly for a longer birdie putt while only expecting birdie.

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Hole 9: Par 5 554 yards

One of the most prolific scoring holes on the course. A wide open fairway should allow a lot of second shots headed to the green from the fairway. However, the short right center greenside bunker should push most second shots to the left side of the green. Expect a lot of eagle putts resulting in mostly birdies on the 9th. Par is a losing score here.

Back Nine

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Hole 10: Par 4 469 yards

The tee shot will determine the fate of the golfer on this hole. The tee shots will need to be very accurate. The longer drivers will need to ease up or club down and play to the open left side of the fairway before hitting an approach shot into a left to right sloped green. Chasing an uphill putt could cause problems with short right green side bunkers.

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Hole 11: Par 4 387 yards

As with most every hole here keeping it in the short grass is imperative. This new bunker makes the landing spot for the shot off the tee very tight. The green tight and narrow as well, and surrounded by these pot bunkers.

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Hole 12: Par 4 379 yards

This is like a minefield around the green. This hole needs to be played down the left hand side or we shall see a lot of balls in these here bunkers.

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Hole 13: Par 3 190 yards

Another narrow green surrounded by the devastating bunkers


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Hole 14: Par 4 475 yards

Fairway bunkers around the landed spot for the tee shot and then an approach shot to a plateau green that everything rolls away from. Grabbing a par on this hole may pick up a stroke on the field.


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Hole 15: Par 4 448 yards

While this dogleg can be challenging with the right weather it also can set up for get that stroke back from the last hole.

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Hole 16: Par 3 186 yards

This Par 3 has so much danger on the outskirts of the green that the best way to play this one is to just put the ball in the center of the green and hope to maybe make a nice putt.

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Hole 17: Par 5 575 yards

This wall of bunkers is an attempt to not allow for any golfers to reach the green in two. They will try to but the course has a nice defense set up on this one.

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Hole 18: Par 4 470 yards

The final hole will provide us with some fun come Sunday. A tight tee shot leading to one of the ore intimidating approach shots on the course. Not to mention if someone happens to be scrambling to make par on the 18th and finds themselves in or on bunker island things could change in a hurry.  


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Stay Away From:

Bubba Watson 115-1

The one and only real stay away. I would put Johnson and Colsaerts here too but who the hell is betting them at 40-1 and 60-1 respectively? Bubba at 115-1 has the most value but it’s a terrible pick. His biggest advantage is his driver and at this course that is comprimised.

Best Bets:

Lee Westwood 25-1

Lee might finally burst through and win one of these things. He has finished in the top 4 four times at The Open and has the game that could compete really well at this course.

Brandt Snedeker 40-1

40-1 for this guy? If you are thinking about betting Luke Donald at 30-1 just go ahead and skip on over that to Brandt at 40-1. You are getting a player better suited to conquer this course and better odds.

Louis Oosthuizen 60-1

I feel like after his 2010 domination he is always a threat... especially at 60-1.

Best Value Bets:

Matt Kuchar 45-1

Finished tied for 9th last year and always seems to find himself near the lead in these majors.

Padraig Harrington 60-1

He won this thing back to back a few years back and has shown he can still compete. This may be one of those last stand type tournaments for one of the greats.

Jason Dufner 80-1

He has never been great at these courses but he has been great at all the other majors. He hasn’t won yet but he will at some point, in other words 80-1 is nice value.

Hunter Mahan 80-1

Mahan had a chance to win the US Open but couldn’t convert. But it does remind me a tiny bit of Rory Mcilroy’s first major win. He blew it at the Masters before coming back and owning the US Open. Mahan’s collapse wasn’t anywhere near that, but Rory wasn’t 80-1 to win the US Open either.

Keegan Bradley 125-1

Steve Stricker 125-1

Two of the best without a major win. I’ll happily take 125-1 on both.

The Bet:

The way I see it there are two ways to bet this tournament. Either bet everyone above and hope to hit a longshot or bet these two heavily and expect to win. This course is set up perfect for the two of them. They are the two best in the world at their sport and now have eliminated two of their biggest problems... the driver. Imagine trying to beat an NBA player in a game of one on one if all made shots, even ones beyond the arc, counted as two points. You aren’t going to out-quick him you just have to hope to play defense and make threes. Who am I kidding none of us would have a chance but you get the point. I am obviously in the bet big on these two guys. I love that play, I really believe Tiger and Phil will battle at last.

Phil Mickelson 20-1

Phil has already come out and said he will be leaving the driver at home in favor of another wedge and that seems to be a rather common this week. This course is rather short, firm and fast. The goal isn’t to outdrive anyone it is just to stay in the fairway and dodge bunkers. It’s not a game of smash it out there plug it in the ground at a certain distance and then do the same from there. It’s a keep it low, let it run, dodge the bunkers. A driver poses almost no benefit to the longer drivers and to a golfer like Phil and extra wedge really benefits him. 20-1 is incredible odds. I would have loved to bet him at the same odds as Tiger has.

Tiger Woods +810

Did you know, despite Tiger being just four major trophies shy of Jack’s total he has not yet eclipsed any of Jack’s career total wins in any of the four majors. In other words as of now Tiger’s only argument for being better than Jack all time is that he has five more career PGA Tour wins. He currently has four green jackets to Jack’s six, three US Open title’s to Jack’s four and three PGA Championships to Jack’s four. But, he has exactly as many Claret Jugs as Jack, three. If you think for a second the most important thing to him this week is finally surpassing Jack in a major championship way, you are crazy.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

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