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2014 British Open Preview

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I have been known to give the British Open a hard time in the past, but of course I am a big fan. While I still think it’s the third best of the four majors, it is unique. It features a much different course setup than the others and weather/wind plays a much larger role in the tournament. That being said, these golf tournaments can really be cashed in on. There are so many great golfers that have long odds, Bubba Watson is 45-1 for christ sake. This year we are back at Hoylake, which was the host of the 2006 British Open where Tiger Woods went on to win. This course is especially unique given it’s finishing holes. Par 5 16th, long par 4 into the wind 17th, and then par 5 monster dog leg 18th. Let’s put it this way, I would not have changed the channel when Adam Scott had that big lead a few years ago at this course. We should be in for another great weekend of golf.


Notable Tee Times Day 1/2 (EST)

3:15am/8:16am - Thomas Bjorn, Patrick Reed, Stewart Cink

3:26am/8:27am - Tom Watson, Jim Furyk, Darren Clarke

3:37am/8:38am - Luke Donald, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia

4:04am/9:05am - Tiger Woods, Angel Cabrera, Henrik Stenson

4:15am/9:16am - Charl Schwartzel, Padraig Harrington, KJ Choi

4:26am/9:27am - Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Jordan Spieth

4:37am/9:38am - Ian Poulter, Dustin Johnson, Jimmy Walker

4:48am/9:49am - Graeme McDowell, Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen

4:59am/10:00am - Stephen Gallacher, Hunter Mahan, Victor Dubuisson

5:10am/10:11am - Sir Nick Faldo, Todd Hamilton, David Hearn

8:27am/3:26am - Miguel Angel Jimenez, Bill Haas, Thongchai Jaidee

8:38am/3:37am - Martin Kaymer, Jason Day, Zach Johnson

9:05am/4:04am - Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Bubba Watson

9:27am/4:26am - Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Jason Dufner

9:38am/4:37am - Ryo Ishikawa, Lee Westwood, Keegan Bradley

Going Out

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Hole 1: Par 4 458yds

As with most of these links courses, accuracy is key. The opening tee shot will need to be threaded between a few pot bunkers. If you can manage a tee shot in the fairway you will be faced with a long approach shot into a narrow green that is tough to hold and guarded by several mounds and several more pot bunkers. Most players would be happy to start off with a par on this one.

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Hole 2: Par 4 454yds

While some of the fairway bunkers have been removed from the landing area, a new tee box will be used adding roughly 20 yards to the hole. While it may be easier to land in the fairway it will leave a longer approach shot into one of many heavily guarded, multi-tiered greens. 


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Hole 3: Par 4 426yds

A British Open hole with no pot bunkers? Well this should be easy right? Wrong. This fairway does not go very far before turning 90 degrees to the right. Sure you could fly it over the right side and cut off much of the trouble, but the entire side right of the fairway is considered OB. If you want to flirt with disaster this early you could pay the price by ending up OB or by flying the green into a gully on the left side that loves to suck balls in… intended but I’m not proud of it.


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Hole 4: Par 4 357yds

This hole is going to be looked at as a birdie hole unless the weather is just out of control. While the landing zone in the fairway is very narrow and requires an accurate tee shot up the left side, doing so will result in an approach shot with a wedge or nine iron. However it isn’t the easiest approach shot since the green slopes from front to back and is guarded by several massive pot bunkers in front of the green, meaning you may see some guys needing to drop the ball into a very tight spot over the bunkers but onto the green in order to secure birdie.


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Hole 5: Par 5 528yds

We should see some fireworks here at the risk/reward 5th. An aggressive tee shot could cut the dogleg on the left and leave an opportunity to go for the green in two. In the 2006 British Open 26 eagles and 205 birdies were carded on this hole, however, there are two new bunkers this time around that could change things up enough. The first is in the landing zone on the right side of the fairway and the other is on the right side of the green. There won’t be nearly as many players trying to run the ball up the right side onto the green with their second shot.


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Hole 6: Par 3 201yds

What an intimidating par 3. While the green is rather large, there are some bunkers surrounding this green that could ruin a day. Any balls landing in a bunker brings some high numbers into play, especially if the hole is cut on that side of the green.


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Hole 7: Par 4 480yds

The key to this hole is an accurate tee shot. There are some deep bunkers on both sides of the fairway. An accurate tee shot could set up an approach shot to a relatively easy green. But with bunkers on the left side, look for a lot of guys to ultimately bail out to the right of the green and settle for par.

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Hole 8: Par 4 431yds

Another hole where an accurate tee shot is of the utmost importance. In this instance it is especially difficult since it requires a blind tee shot to a narrow fairway with that long wispy rough to the left and bunkers on the right. Miss the trouble and birdie should be expected.

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Hole 9: Par 3 197yds

The wind could play a rather large factor on this hole. It is cut rather tight and has bunkers on either side of the green that were designed to gather balls.

Coming Home

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Hole 10: Par 5 532yds

The back nine kicks off with the first of three par 5’s on the this nine. This one could end up playing as the easiest on the course. The trouble area on this hole is up around the green. With most players attempting to go for the green in two, it makes it all the more likely that they will be a fraction off and land in either the deep bunker on the right or the swale on the left, leaving a nearly impossible up and down.


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Hole 11: Par 4 391yds

What a difficult short par four this is. There may not be a level spot on the fairway and while there are just two bunkers around the green they are almost impossible to get up and down from. Any balls into the bunker on the right will probably require two, maybe three shots to finish the hole, following play out of the bunker.


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Hole 12: Par 4 447yds

Back in 2006, this played as the most difficult hole on the course as it caused 138 bogeys and 15 double bogeys. There are a row of bunkers on the right side of the landing zone, that eat up errant tee shots and then quite a difficult raised green that slopes from back to front with heavy rough on either side, most notably the left side.

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Hole 13: Par 3 194yds

This is one of those holes that for the first three days will have the middle of it beaten down by players tee shots. Nobody will try and test the pin placements on this narrow green, until possibly on Sunday of course.


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Hole 14: Par 4 454yds

The long Par 4 14th is another massive dogleg, this time from right to left. The 14th proved to be the second most difficult hole back in 2006, in large part because of the rows of bunkers on either side of the fairway in the landing zone. Anyone with enough balls to try and cut the corner is flirting with disaster since the fairway gets even more narrow after the turn. If that weren’t enough trouble, the approach shot needs to be hit over a hill in the front of the narrow green. The green is shaped a little like a kidney bean with the round back end being on the left side of the fairway, meaning that hill on the right side could kick the ball in a number of directions that leads to disaster in the British Open rough.


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Hole 15: Par 3 161yds

The shortest hole on the course may be the most heavily protected. There are three pot bunkers on the left, and two on the right. Hit the target and have a nice birdie attempt. Get a little nervous on Sunday afternoon and miss the target and you are staring at a bogey.

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Hole 16: Par 5 577yds

This hole played as one of the easiest back in 2006 since it is more wide open than most of the others. However, it is certainly no picnic. While it should be a birdie hole, players going for the green in two could easily run into trouble. There are three greenside bunkers on the left side and one in the middle of the fairway as well as a grassy knoll on the right side. In other words, you better fly that second shot to the green because any ball running through there is not making it through that maze of trouble without an incredible amount of luck. Screw this one up and it could create a two shot swing.


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Hole 17: Par 4 458yds

While it is listed as a par 4 and 458 yards, it plays so much longer given the fact that it predominantly is played into the heavy winds. The fairway is heavily guarded by bunkers as is the long tricky green.


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Hole 18: Par 5 551yds

What an exciting finish this is going to be. This hole is another monster dogleg, from left to right, with out of bounds down the entire right side of the fairway and heavy rough on the left. Then there is the green which sits down underneath three giant bunkers on the left side, two on the right side and more heavy rough behind the green. I think there may have been just two or three guys that have had leads big enough that I would be confident enough heading to the 18th tee here. We could actually see a three or four shot swing on the final hole Sunday afternoon.




Stay Away From

Justin Rose 15-1

Sure you know Justin Rose as the 2013 Masters Champion and that he has finished 14th and 12th respectively in this years two majors as well as two other top 10’s back in 2012. That sort of run paired with him being a European means he is a legit player in this thing right? I mean why else would Vegas have him as the co-favorite? Well because every dope is thinking that way and therefore there is no reason to dish out value on a guy that will receive plenty of action at 15-1 despite being cut from the three of the past four British Open Championships with his lone cut made resulting in a 44th place finish. I would tell the general public to do your homework, but I just did for you, save your money for someone else.

Henrik Stenson 16-1

Stenson has quite the track record in major championships despite never winning one. But that last fact, never having won one, is the most important thing. Sure he has three top 5’s in the past six majors and finishes inside the top 21 in all six events, but before that he didn’t have a top 20 since 2010. Take a look at Matt Kuchar’s stats in majors… Kuch has been similarly consistent in majors of late with four top 10’s in the past ten majors, including two top 5’s as well as two more top 10’s in 2010, yet he has never won one. I understand Stenson won the FedEx Cup last year and has that whole “but he’s European” thing going for him, but why does that result in a difference of 19-1? Wouldn’t you rather bet Kuchar at 35-1 than Stenson at 16-1? That’s what I thought, so paragraph over.

Jordan Spieth 35-1

Call it a hunch if you want, but I just can’t see Spieth winning his first major at this course this week. He might end up with a top 10, but I just don’t see him being a legit factor late on Sunday. In his first British Open last year he made the cut and finished T44, but it just doesn’t feel right to me. I think he has a much better shot at the PGA Championship, and 35-1 just isn’t enough for me to bite. If he weren’t such a trendy play and had some longer odds, like some of the guys coming up, I would consider this play but not at 35-1. Top 20 doesn’t pay shit.

Best Bets

Rory McIlroy 15-1

Isn’t it time for Rory to get his shit together? He hasn’t posted a top 20 in the British Open since he finished 3rd in 2010. Last week he hit like a 400 some odd yard drive on a links course. While distance probably won’t be the difference this week, he should have the type of game that can win this thing, it’s just a matter of if he can hold it together for four rounds.

Tiger Woods 18-1

Would you want to be the Tiger fan that doesn’t bet him when he wins his first major since topping Rocco Mediate on one leg? Ya, I didn’t think so, me neither. I feel like 18-1 is longer odds than he had at this year’s US Open for christ sake. I know he is just barely starting his comeback but it’s Tiger freakin Woods. You wouldn’t pass on Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus winning any given race at 18-1 if Jimmie were coming off of some sort of surgery would you? You shouldn’t have to be a NASCAR fan or even know who those two people are to understand what I am saying there.

Phil Mickelson 23-1

In my opinion Phil should always be a favorite to win this event. I know he just won his first British Open last year and hadn’t exactly had the most success in this major event in the past, but he is just seems to be set up to win this event in my eyes. Phil struggles the most when he can’t get off the tee, but these links courses are typically a little more wide open than most US courses and he is so f’n crafty with those wedges that the pot bunkers and wispy rough should play into his hand. Either way you would be absolutely crazy to pass up Phil at 23-1 in any tournament nevermind one he is the defending champion of.

Matt Kuchar 35-1

Kuch is going to win one of these Majors and it is going to be sooner rather than later. If he doesn’t pull this one off, I have him pegged as the 2014 PGA Champion. Actually I had him pegged as that before the season started, or at least when Jimmy Walker was winning and nobody was watching.

Rickie Fowler 35-1

The disappointing finish to the US Open has to piss Rickie off to the point that I expect big things out of him this week. Hopefully he won’t press a little too much, but his game fits this course. Is everyone aware that his worst finish in a major tournament this year is 5th? If they were I don’t think he would be sitting at 35-1. I really feel like Rickie has the drive and poise to win one of these things soon, it might be this weekend. I really think he wants it more than just about every other golfer that will be teeing off on Thursday on any course nevermind Hoylake, as well as anyone that isn’t planning on golfing Thursday.

Lee Westwood 35-1

Westwood is a guy that shows up in these major events. While he is one of many notable players without a major tournament trophy, he is almost always around the top and usually seizes the lead at a certain point before the 72nd hole. At 35-1 you are getting a guy with eleven top 10’s and seven top 3’s in his last nineteen major starts. How much more can you really ask for at 35-1?

Zach Johnson 55-1

ZJ is just the kind of accurate player with a dynamic short game that could catch people off. 55-1 for a guy with his game, a green jacket and top 10’s in each of the previous two British Open’s is rather insane to me.

Best Value Bets

Bubba Watson 45-1

While I feel like Bubba’s biggest asset may be for the most part nullified at this course, 45-1 is just too much to pass up on. He is too good on the whole to think of him as just another long ball hitter. Plus with four par 5’s he could really make things happen if he can get the putter going.

Ian Poulter 45-1

If you said to me or any golf fan, or even non fan for that matter, would you rather have Bubba Watson or Ian Poulter at 45-1 for the British Open who would you take? Once everyone is done shouting BUBBA at their computer screens, I am going to say I am perfectly fine with these odds. While I think Bubba’s odds have more value and should probably be lower, Poulter deserves to be where he is. He could be on the edge of the cut on Friday and then find his way into the top 10 on Sunday. Poulter just hangs around and grinds his way to solid finishes, including a 3rd place finish in this tournament last year and a 9th place finish the year before. With that daunting 18th hole anything can happen and I would rather have my money on a guy who posts a solid score early and waits it out Webb Simpson style.

Keegan Bradley 65-1

I pegged him as the 2014 British Open Champion before the season really got started. While I don’t really remember why, I am standing by that because it just seems to fit his game provided he doesn’t try to swing out of his ass and do too much off the tee. If he can show some patience and let the course come to him he should be a real factor. Plus 65-1? You are joking with those odds right Vegas?

Louis Oosthuizen 65-1

This is one of the guys on the very short list that had a big enough lead in a major, in my lifetime,  that they could actually be confident heading into the 72nd hole this weekend. He won the British Open back in 2010 by seven strokes and I don’t even recall it being that close. Disjointed sentences? Yes please. 65-1? Yes please.

Jimmy Walker 85-1

This guy needs to win an event when people are actually watching and the best of the best are actually playing. He has had a hell of a 2014 season and deserves a look at 85-1 just for that matter. Were you aware he has finished each of this year’s majors inside the top 10? While I don’t have a ton of confidence in this play seeing as to how he missed the cut in his only British Open, he has been playing more than well enough this season to really burst onto the public scene.

Victor Dubuisson 85-1

Maybe there is a large part of his game that could be construed as lucky but I look at him as rather crafty and crafty is what it takes to win these links tournaments plus why scoff at a guy at 85-1 that has found good luck this year? Remove your heart and bet with your head.

Stewart Cink 200-1

A $5 bet nets you $1000, why pass up on that with a guy that has won this thing before?

Tom Watson 500-1

A $2 bet nets you $1000, why pass up on that with a legend that has won this thing five times and finished 2nd to Stuey Cink back in 2009?

My Pick

Sergio Garcia 25-1

I really struggled picking an actual winner here. My initial instinct was Kuchar. Then I started leaning towards Phil and then I thought why not just go Tiger for the fun aspect or Keegan because I picked him early in the year, but I’m not here to make the fun pick, I’m here to win fuckin money. Something about this just feels right. I know I sounds crazy but hear me out...

I am not going to say Sergio is “due” because he isn’t. Anyone saying he is “due” to win a major is lying. He had plenty of opportunities and he “Sergio’d” them away. That being said, he has seven top 10’s and three top 5’s in the past thirteen British Open Championships. He has the game to win this thing and has had a rather nice season thus far. Something tells me that enough people have put him on the backburner as a choker that he is almost forgotten. Which is why his 25-1 odds should be a red flag for everyone in the gambling world. Vegas knows something. That doesn’t mean he won’t choke another away, but it can’t possibly mean that people are betting him down to 25-1. It has to mean that they are afraid to offer anything higher in this tournament. I hear you Vegas, loud and clear.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

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