The 2012 Open Championship, also called the British Open, commences on Thursday at the Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club in Lancashire. The tournament will run from July 19th to the 22nd. This article previews the Open and looks at the betting odds.
The Open Championship is the oldest of the four major championships and is the only major to be held outside the United States. The Open was last held at the Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club in 2001, which was won by David Duval. Tiger Woods will be gunning for his fourth Open title, having previously won in 2000, 2005 and 2006. Irishman Pádraig Harrington will be looking for his third title, having won in 2007 and 2008. Harrington was tied for eighth at the 2012 Masters and tied for fourth at the 2012 US Open, so he brings good majors form into this tournament. And let’s not forget Tom Watson, who is a five-time Open winner, having won in 1975, 1977, 1980, 1982 and 1983.
Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club
The Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club is located in the seaside resort of Lytham St Annes in Lancashire, England. Royal Lytham is a true links course. It is set upon links land but is set back from the current day shoreline, separated by housing, roads, and a rail line. Royal Lytham’s close proximity to the ocean is such that the wind from the sea does come into play. Being a typical links course, Royal Lytham averages over 11 bunkers per hole, with 206 bunkers in total on the course.
Ryder Cup Captain Mark James has previsously written that “everyone who knows Lytham knew that it would be the one Course where Tiger Woods would not have a big advantage because of the distance he hits, as there are relatively few holes where you can carry the trouble. Tiger could not tame it”. According to the official website, “it may not be the longest of courses but it is one where careful thought and accurate shots are required.”
Tiger Woods has said “it’s the only tournament besides the sandbelt courses in Australia that we can actually use the ground as a friend and bounce the ball into the greens… Modern golf is all up in the air.”
The rough at Royal Lytham is as tough as most players will ever face. Tiger Woods has said “it’s just that you can’t get out of it. That bottom six inches, in some places is almost unplayable. I’ve never seen the rough this high or thick and dense.” Defending Open champion Darren Clarke has described the rough as “brutal”. He said “if you start spraying the ball around this week, you might as well go home. There could be some lost balls in there, even with spotters and everything. There’s a really huge premium on accuracy this week. There’s no chance coming out of this rough at all.”
Links and Resources
- The official Open Championship website
- The official Open Championship mobile app – for iPhone/iPad and Android
- Player form guide
- ‘Power rankings’ for the Open – published by the PGA
For the attentive punter, fantastic opportunities can arise at links course golf events due to the temperamental weather. At the 2010 Open Championship Louis Oosthuizen was at the top of the leaderboard after his second round. He had one of the earlier tee-off times for day two and the forecast was for the weather to pack in that afternoon. Oosthuizen at this stage was a 29.00 odds outsider to win the Open despite the fact that the main contenders were due to play their second rounds in poor weather conditions. As expected, the conditions had a tremendous impact on the scores that afternoon. Rory McIlroy had shot 63 in round one but went on to shoot 80 on day two. Winds over 64 km/h caused play to be suspended for 66 minutes at one stage. The winds also resulted in some rounds taking 7 1/2 hours. After a round of 67 on day one Tiger Woods grinded out to shoot 73 to go 8 shots behind the leader after day two. Notable players who missed the cut were Ernie Els, Pádraig Harrington, Tom Watson and Jim Furyk. Oosthuizen went on to win by 7 shots. (source).
Tournament winner betting can be a lottery. Darren Clarke’s previous best finish at a major was tied for 42nd in the four years leading up to his Open victory in 2011. Louis Oosthuizen had failed to make the cut at his five previous majors before winning the Open in 2010. In fact, Oosthuizen had only previously made a cut at a major once in eight attempts, when he finished 73rd at the PGA Championship in 2008. Stewart Cink had failed to make the cut in three of his previous four majors prior to winning in 2009.
Before you jump in with a wager in the winner’s market, consider this: in the last seventeen major championships there have been seventeen different winners. For this reason you may want to wait until the conclusion of the first day or two before taking the plunge.
Below are the winner odds prior to the commencement of day one, along with comments on selected players.
Although he is of course capable of winning, one can’t help but think that Tiger Woods’ winner odds of 8.50 are too low. At recent majors his poorest form has been at the Open Championship, with a tie for 12th his best finish since he last won in 2006. With that being said, Woods is more likely to win this year than he has in years. After failing to win an event on the PGA Tour in 2010 and 2011, he has won three PGA titles in 2012. Woods was in contention at the US Open this year before poor third and fourth rounds put him out of contention. He rebounded well by winning the AT&T National at the beginning of July, however he failed to make the cut at the Greenbrier Classic a week later.
The next favourite is Lee Westwood at 15.00, followed by Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy, both at 17.00. If you want to back a consistent performer then look no further than Westwood. The English golfer has made the top ten in his last three majors. While he has never won a major, Westwood has finished tied for 3rd or better in seven majors from 2008 onwards. Luke Donald is the world No. 1 but has yet to win a major. He only has one top ten finish since 1999 at the Open Championship and failed to make the cut last year, so he is arguably a bit short. McIlroy has failed to live up to expectations in 2012. He was tied for 40th at the Masters and failed to make the cut at the US Open, so his odds are possibly too short as well.
Pádraig Harrington is the next favourite at 19.00 odds, which seems reasonable given his strong Open Championship history and top ten finishes at both this year’s majors.
Justin Rose at 29.00 is a chance. He brings solid form into the tournament, with four top ten finishes in his last five starts this season. At the majors this year he tied for 8th at the Masters and tied for 21st at the US Open.
Francesco Molinari at 34.00 odds is another golfer to keep an eye on. He was runner-up in the Scottish Open this week after losing to Jeev Milkha Singh in a playoff. This was Molinari’s consecutive runner-up finish having finished second behind Marcel Siem in France a week earlier. He has a poor history at the Open Championship, it must be said, having only made the cut once in four attempts when he finished tied for 13th in 2009. Molinari has made the top 30 in the first two majors this year, however, and based on the poor prior form of previous winners like Clarke in 2011, Oosthuizen 2010 and Cink in 2009, Molinari could be this year’s surprise package.
Given how tough it will be to play out of the rough at Royal Lytham, the course could suit the likes of Graeme McDowell (31.00), Jim Furyk (41.00) and other golfers who rate highly in fairways hit.
Golfing pundits in the UK have made the following winner predictions:
Iain Carter, BBC golf correspondent –> Lee Westwood
Andrew Cotter, BBC golf commentator –> Graeme McDowell
Ken Brown, BBC golf commentator –> Luke Donald
Eddie Birchenough, head pro at Royal Lytham –> Luke Donald
Jay Townsend, BBC Radio 5 live golf pundit –> Steve Stricker
Peter Dixon, The Times –> Lee Westwood
Jamie Corrigan, Daily Telegraph –> Rickie Fowler
Kevin Garside, The Independent –> Rory McIlroy
Derek Lawrenson, Daily Mail –> Lee Westwood
Neil Squires, Daily Express –> Padraig Harrington
Rob Hodgetts, BBC Sport golf writer –> Tiger Woods