Wednesday, July 16, 2014

British Open Preview

The British Open returns to Royal Liverpool Golf Club this week for the course's 12th British Open Championship, and the first held there since 2006.  In 2006 Tiger Woods absolutely annihilated the course, romping to a two-stroke victory at 18-under par.  The winds were fairly calm that week, and the course was exposed.  Let's take a look at how Royal Liverpool can show its teeth in 2014.

Royal Liverpool sets up as your fairly standard British Open links-style course.  Fairways can become firm and fast, the course can bake out in the sun, deep pot bunkers abound, long heather lines the rough, and the greens can be lumpy and undulating.  The big kicker as usual is the wind and the weather.  As you can see on this handy map we have here, Royal Liverpool sits on the west coast of England on the Irish Sea.  This can lead to strong coastal winds and good English weather.  The forecast this week calls for a mixture of rain and sun, so tee times could be very important.  One thing is for certain, I don't think we will be seeing anywhere near a winning score of 18-under this year.

So who will win?  Well, it is all going to depend on the weather.  If the course plays towards the easier side due to the weather, I think it will be a thoroughbred race.  If the weather kicks up, I would lean towards a cagey veteran from Europe.  I for one am hoping the weather does play a part.  That is really when you see a true test of golf; players using every shot, pulling every club from the bag, and being extremely creative.  One interesting thing to also be aware of; during Tiger's championship in 2006, he only used his driver once.  Just another sign that this is not your normal golf course.  Now let's throw some names out there.

Rickie Fowler - Rickie loves links-style courses and has been coming on in majors lately.  He also played well at the Scottish Open (a major British Open tune-up) last week.

Justin Rose - This could be Justin's week.  He won the Scottish Open last week, won at Tiger's tournament in D.C. a few weeks prior, and is due for a major on his home soil after picking up the U.S. Open last year.  The prohibitive favorite to be sure.

Miguel Angel Jimenez - One of the most creative guys on tour.  He always seems to compete in majors, and has the right mentality if the weather goes afoul.  This is the "cagey European" I was referring to earlier.

Adam Scott - 9th at the U.S. Open, 14th at the Masters, the number one golfer in the world is also still smarting from choking away the 2012 British.

Ian Poulter - If this limey could play in a major the way he plays at the Ryder Cup, he would be unstoppable.  Maybe he will feed off the home crowd this week and figure it out.

Sergio Garcia - Sergio played well here in 2006, but the question always comes down to whether he can hang mentally or not.  I'm not a Sergio fan at all, but it is disappointing to see someone who has every shot in the bag fall apart under pressure so often.  It's also pretty great, though.

Angel Cabrera - There's always a geezer that performs well at the British, and Angel seems to be the geezer everyone is talking about.  He played well at the 2006 British, recently won at the Greenbrier, and plays well in majors.  How crazy would it be if this guy, who doesn't speak English and hardly plays in any tournaments, won three of golf's four majors at ages 37, 39 and 44?

Let's all wake up a little early, put on a spot of tea, and enjoy the British Open.  Also, keep your eyes peeled for this guy!