Wednesday, July 15, 2009
British Open Preview
The Turnberry Ailsa course in Scotland has not hosted a British Open since 1994 when Nicky Price brought home the Claret Jug. This year will only be the fourth Open Championship ever at Turnberry. Therefore, it is very difficult to judge who might win since very few golfers have played a British Open here. Nonetheless, we here at TPLIYP will do our very best to give you an accurate assessment of what lies ahead for this weekend.
Turnberry Ailsa is a classic Open style course. It is a bit shorter than Bethpage and Augusta, but the fairways are MUCH narrower. Moreover, the course is peppered with pot bunkers and the wind and the weather also play a huge factor. Accuracy is the key on this course. Golfers will have to stay in the fairway if they want to score well.
Tiger Woods' strategy is to use his long irons and 3 wood in order to stay in the fairway. He will most likely keep the driver in the bag. This information, plus the fact that he is Tiger Woods has already made him the prohibitive favorite to win. Though I think Tiger will definitely be in the hunt, we thought that he would walk away with the U.S. Open and Masters championships and were disappointed. However, if he can putt better than he did at Bethpage, he could run away with it. Here are some others who I think will definitely give Tiger a run for his money at Turnberry this weekend.
Ian Poulter- If you haven't already figured it out, I am a fan of Ian Poulter. He's a pretty focused golfer and is in the top ten in Europe in both driving accuracy and scoring average. He also seems like the kind of guy that has the stones to win a major championship. With all the limeys pulling for him, this could be his week.
Sergio Garcia- My lasting memory of Sergio in the British Open is watching him slam his iron into a pot bunker a few years ago, much to the disgust of the respectful crowd. Most golf writers predicted him to win at least one major before he is thirty, so at age 29 he has been a popular pick this week. I disagree with them though. This bitch has been a choke artist for years and always blames his failures on something other than himself. I see him finding yet another scapegoat again this week.
Rory McIlroy- The young Irishmen has been playing very well in Europe and is due to make a statement. However, I'm just not convinced that he is consistent enough to play 4 flawless rounds of golf under such pressure. He should have plenty of fan support this weekend though, and will probably never have to buy a Guinness again.
Kenny Perry- This course seems like it would benefit some of the older guys like Kenny. Distance is not as crucial as accuracy and Kenny has a pretty sweet draw that he likes to rock. We'll see if he can handle the pressure though after his collapse at the Masters.
Camillo Villegas- Beginning to sense a Eurotrash theme? Villegas always seems to be in the hunt and posted a round of 65 at Birkdale last year. Safe to say that he can handle to British Open conditions.
Lee Westwood- Another limey who always seems to be on the first or second page of the leaderboard. He has two top tens in the British Open in his career and could certainly get the crowd going in his favor.
Greg Norman- Norman has proven he can still hang in the British Open by going into the final round with the lead last year. He has also won the British at Turnberry before in 1986. I'd love to see him win it, but it would be crushing to see a repeat of 2008.
David Duval- Duval has got me believing that anything is possible following his remarkable 2nd place finish at Bethpage. Double D is also a previous winner of the Open and came out of nowhere last year to finish 39th at Birkdale. An amazing feat considering that he didn't even play in any of the other majors. Dave is certainly an underdog, but plenty of people will be pulling for him.
I hope everyone watches the Open Championship over the next four days. As Americans, it is a special experience to wake up early and watch to golfers dueling it out on the other side of the pond. Afterwards, it is almost impossible not to want to tee it up in the afternoon. Hopefully this year Turnberry will provide us another "Duel in the Sun" like it did in 1977.