2013 British Open Golf Championship
Thursday, July 18, – Sunday, July 21, 2013, TV: ESPN
Muirfield Golf Links – Gullane, Scotland
Par 71 – 7,192 yards
Defending Champion: Ernie Els
All odds courtesy of Bookmaker
The 142nd Open Championship returns to Muirfield Golf Links for the 16th time. It hasn’t hosted since 2002, when brutal rain and wind made the course extremely difficult. The average score on Saturday that year was just under 75, and Tiger Woods shot an 81 that day to fall out of contention. Ernie Els would go on to win his first Open Championship, and Els won his second last year. The weather is expected to be much better this year with light wind and perhaps even highs in the low 80’s by the weekend.
The last 7 winners at Muirfield are hall-of-famers, including Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo twice, and Els. Nicklaus completed the career grand slam here in 1966.
While conditions are expected to be benign, it is Scotland and they could change at any moment. The course spirals twice and you never know which direction the wind will be coming from on any given hole. Still, this course could surrender some low scores if the weather stays relatively pleasant.
Here is a look at some of the contenders to win and some head to head match-ups with odds courtesy of Bookmaker.
Tiger Woods (17/2)
Tiger hasn’t played since his 32nd place finish at the US Open last month. He strained his elbow in the first round at Merion and was unable to get on track and finished tied for 32nd. As everyone knows, Tiger has 14 majors but hasn’t won one since 2008. He has come close several times including a tie for third at Royal Lytham last year. He also had a top 5 at the Masters this year. Tiger has 4 wins this season, and leads the FedEx Cup standings. Woods also leads the tour in adjusted scoring and the all-around
He remembers his Saturday struggles in 2002 and would like nothing more than to join the other legendary winners at this course and end his major drought. He will eventually win another major but I can’t pick him until he does, as much as I would like to see it happen. Tiger is a favorite to beat Rory McIlroy (-185), Adam Scott (-155), and Justin Rose (-140). I like Tiger against McIlroy.
Phil Mickelson (18/1)
Mickelson won the Scottish Open last week in a playoff, for his first win in Europe since 1993. Mickelson has 6 top 3 finishes in his last 13 starts worldwide. He has never won the British Open before, but this could be his best shot. He tied for second at the Open Championship in 2011. Mickelson finished tied for 54th at the Masters this year, and finished tied for second at the US Open, the sixth time he has been the runner up at the US Open. Mickelson is fourth in the FedEx Cup standings with 5 top 10’s, and a win at Phoenix.
Mickelson is -120 to beat Adam Scott and -130 to beat Lee Westwood. I like Mickelson to beat Westwood and Mickelson should at least be in contention at Muirfield.
Justin Rose (37/2)
Rose won the US Open last month for his first major title. He followed that up with a top 15 at the Travelers. He has 5 top 10’s and is sixth in the FedEx Standings. Rose leads the PGA Tour in total driving, is second in adjusted scoring, and is #15 in greens in regulation.
Rose tied for 22nd at Muirfield in 2002. He is -120 to beat Scott, -140 to beat McIlroy and +110 against Tiger. Rose definitely is playing well right now and has a good shot at winning. I like him to beat Tiger and McIlroy.
Graeme McDowell (20/1)
It has been feat or famine for McDowell with 3 wins and 5 missed cuts in his last 8 starts. He missed the cut at both the Masters and the US Open. His wins came at the RBC Heritage, the World Match Play, and the Open de France. McDowell has never won the Open Championship but did tie for fifth here last year, his best finish. I like McDowell at +115 to beat Lee Westwood.
Lee Westwood (22/1)
Westwood hasn’t won this season but does had 5 top 10’s on the PGA Tour. Westwood has never won a major before. He has top 15 finishes at both the Masters and US Open. He has finished in the top 4 at the Open Championship three times. He is too talented to not have a major title. He will get one eventually. I just don’t think it will be here. Westwood is even against Mickelson and -145 against McDowell. I don’t like Westwood in either one of those match-ups.
Adam Scott (45/2)
Scott had a 4 stroke lead last year at Royal Lytham with four holes to play. He ended up with bogeys on the last four holes and lost to Ernie Els by one stroke. It was a heartbreaking loss, but Scott did end up winning his first major earlier this year at the Masters. He tied for 45th at the US Open, and followed that up with a tie for 57th at the AT&T National. He has 3 top 10’s this season. He is fifth in adjusted scoring. Scott is +125 against Tiger and -110 against Mickelson. Despite his recent struggles, Scott should be in contention.
Rory McIlroy (55/2)
McIlroy has 4 top 10’s on the PGA Tour this season, but no wins. He tied for 25th at the Masters and tied for 41st at the US Open. He has shown the ability to turn it on when he hasn’t been playing well, and will need to do that this week. McIlroy has made the cut in his five previous Open Championships. McIlroy is +155 against Tiger and +110 against Rose. I don’t like him in either one of those match-ups.
Jason Day (28/1)
Day has 5 top 10’s this season but two of those came at the Masters (third) and the US Open (tied for second). He finished tied for 21st at the AT&T National. Day is even money to beat Sergio Garcia and -115 to beat Luke Donald. Day is my pick to win both of those match-ups and break through for his first major title.
Ernie Els (30/1)
Els is the defending champion at the Open Championship and also won it the last time the tournament was held at Muirfield in 2002. He tied for 13th at the Masters and tied for 4th at the US Open, his first top 10 of 2013 on the PGA Tour. He did win the BMW International and had a top 10 at the BMW Championship. Els missed the cut at the Scottish Open last week. Els is -110 against Luke Donald. I like Els in that match-up.
Luke Donald (30/1)
Donald has never won a major before. He tied for 25th at the Masters and tied for 8th at the US Open. He has two other top 10’s on the PGA tour. He tied for 42nd at the Open de France in his last outing. He has two top 5’s and a tie for 11th in his last 4 Open Championship starts. He is one of the best putters and scramblers in the world despite his struggles this season. Donald is -115 against Day and -120 against Els.
Sergio Garcia (30/1)
Garcia has never won a major before. He has 3 top 10’s on the PGA Tour this year, and had 18 top 20 finishes in his last 21 starts worldwide. He tied for 8th at the masters and tied for 45th at the US Open. Garcia has 7 top 10’s in his last 10 Open Championship starts. He tied for 8th at Muirfield in 2002. Garcia is -135 against McIlroy and -130 against Day. I like Garcia to beat McIlroy.
Other contenders and their odds include Matt Kuchar (33/1), Henrik Stenson (35/1), Brandt Snedeker, Charl Schwartzel, Dustin Johnson, and Branden Grace (all 40/1), Rickie Fowler (45/1), Louis Oosthuizen (50/1), Ian Poulter (105/2), Padraig Harrington (66/1), Martin Kaymer (145/2), Hunter Mahan (75/1), Webb Simpson and Jordan Spieth (both 80/1), Bill Haas (90/1), Jim Furyk (100/1), Keegan Bradley (115/1) and the field is 2/1.
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