2012 British Open Championship
Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s – Lancashire, England
Par 70 – 7,128 yards
Thursday, July 19-Sunday, July 22, 2012, TV: ESPN
Defending Champion: Darren Clarke
All odds courtesy of Bookmaker
The Open Championship is golf’s third major of the year, and the oldest of the four. The 2012 edition will be extra special because it occurs during a huge summer for the United Kingdom. Last month, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee commemorating 60 years on the throne. Earlier this month Serena Williams and Roger Federer both won Wimbledon titles at the age of 30. Next week, of course, the Olympics start in London.
But first things first. The Open Championship returns to Royal Lytham and St. Anne’s for the 10th time and first since 2001. The course is unique in that it starts off with a par 3, and there are 3 total par 3’s on the the front nine. The course is littered with over 200 bunkers. It is a difficult course but there are some scoring chances. Past winners at Royal Lytham include Bobby Jones, Bobby Locke, Peter Thomson, Bob Charles, Tony Jacklin, Gary Player, Seve Ballesteros (twice), Tom Lehman and David Duval. Duval won the event in 2001.
Here is a look at the favorites and contenders for the 2012 Open Championship and some head to head match-ups with odds courtesy of bookmaker.
Tiger Woods (15/2)
It has been 4 years since Tiger has won a major at the 2008 US Open. The events in his personal life are well documented since then. Tiger has three wins this year, more than any golfer on the PGA tour, but he hasn’t won a major. He was never in contention at the Masters and ended up tied for 40th. He was tied for the 36 hole lead at the US Open, but he ended up tied for 21st. Woods has said the British Open is his favorite major. He adjusted his swing for the umpteenth time in career and some say it is perfect for this course. Tiger is 5th on the PGA tour in total driving, 11th in greens in regulation, and first in adjusted scoring. I think it all adds up to the elusive 15th major for Tiger. Woods is also favored to beat Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, and Rory McIlroy head to head.
Lee Westwood (13/1)
Westwood and Luke Donald are the two best players in the world who have never won a major. Westwood has been close with 6 top 3’s and 2 more top 10’s in his last 11 major starts. He is too good not to eventually win a major and with his excellent ball striking, this could finally be the week. He battled right knee and groin injuries but still won in France two weeks ago. I like Westwood at -140 to beat Donald, and -145 to beat McIlroy
Padraig Harrington (13/1)
Harrington is a 2 time British Open winner. He has 5 straight top 20 finishes this season, including a tie for 16th at the Scottish Open. Harrington usually does well in bad weather and on links courses, both staples of the Open Championship. Harrington is even money against McIlroy and +125 against Donald. He has a good chance in both of those match-ups.
Rory McIlroy (16/1)
McIlroy has two top 10’s in his last 6 starts, but he also missed 3 cuts in a row in that stretch. He tied for 10th at the Irish Open. Despite being from Northern Ireland, McIlroy doesn’t like playing in bad weather. Last year, he was the heavy favorite to win the Open after his 8 shot romp in the US Open. However, he was never in contention. Royal Lytham suits his game and he should contend here. McIlroy is +110 against Tiger, +115 against Westwood, and -130 against Harrington.
Luke Donald (16/1)
It has been 16 years since an Englishman won a major, a trend both Donald and Westwood would love to end. Donald is the world’s top ranked golfer and has 2 wins this season worldwide. He only has 2 top ten finishes at the Open Championship in 11 starts in 2009 and 2010. He missed the cut at the US Open but tied for 16th at the Scottish Open. Like Westwood, Donald will eventually win a major, but I don’t think it will happen this week. Donald is +120 against Tiger, +110 against Westwood, and -155 against Harrington.
Phil Mickelson (35/2)
For all of Mickelson’s accomplishments in a brilliant golf career, there are two glaring holes in his resume. He has never won the US Open or the British Open. He has come close at the US Open but has never contended across the pond. Mickelson has one win this season, but has struggled since the Masters. It would be surprising if he turned it around at Royal Lytham. Mickelson is +125 against Justin Rose and +110 against Francesco Molinari.
Justin Rose (25/1)
Rose has never won a major, and has only one top ten at the Open Championship in 10 starts. This year, he is quietly having a great year. Rose is 12th in the FedEx Cup standings with a win and 8 top 10’s. Rose finished tied for 8th at the Masters and tied with Tiger Woods for 21st at the US Open. He is fourth on the PGA tour in GIR. Rose is -155 against Mickelson and -135 against Adam Scott. I like him in both of those match-ups.
Graeme McDowell (28/1)
McDowell hasn’t won since 2010, but he has 3 runner-ups this year, including at the US Open. He usually does well in bad weather. He is second on the PGA Tour in fairways hit, which should help him avoid the numerous bunkers at Royal Lytham. McDowell is -110 against Ernie Els and +105 against Ian Poulter. I like him in both of those match-ups.
Sergio Garcia (30/1)
Garcia has never won a major but has come closest at the Open Championship with 7 top 10’s in 15 starts including one in 2001 on this very course. Garcia said earlier this year “I am not good enough to win a major.” I think he is being a little hard on himself. He is one of the best ball strikers in the world, and this course suits his game. Garcia could be a nice dark horse pick. He is -110 against Adam Scott and -145 to beat Louis Oosthuizen. I like him in both.
Francesco Molinari (30/1)
Molinari had a chance for a wire to wire win at last week’s Scottish Open, but faltered down the stretch and had to settle for his second straight runner up. It was his 6th top 10 in his last 8 starts. He is one of the hottest golfers in the world, and strikes the ball really well. Molinari is -140 against Mickelson and -135 against Jason Dufner.
Ernie Els (30/1)
Els has 12 top 10’s in 21 Open championship starts, including a win, three seconds, and two thirds. He finished second here in 1996 and third in 2001. Els has 5 top 10’s in his lat 11 starts worldwide. Els is -120 against both McDowell and Martin Kaymer.
Dustin Johnson (30/1)
Johnson has never won a major, but tied for second at the Open Championship last year. Johnson usually does well in bad weather, and should do well on the par 5’s at Royal Lytham. Johnson is -115 to beat Steve Stricker.
Other top contenders include Martin Kaymer, Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott, and Jason Dufner (all 33/1), Louis Oosthuizen and Ian Poulter (both 40/1), Hunter Mahan (85/2), Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar (both 45/1), Charl Schwartzel and Bubba Watson (both 50/1), and the field is 3/2. The field is worth a play because it includes such golfers as Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker, and last year’s champion Darren Clarke.
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