The Old Course is considered one of golf’s greatest highlights and a national treasure. It’s a wide-open seaside course that has many challenging and unique attributes to its track. The course consists of 112 natural bunkers, a few which are noted for being incredibly difficult to play due to their depth, one known as as Hell Bunker on the 14th hole. Or the Road Bunker on the 17th on which the world’s best could stumble. Here golfers face completely blind tee shots.
Alongside these hazards, the Old Course has an amazing beautiful and breathtaking venue. It’s located in a picturesque village just off the North Sea. St Andrews is very famous, as is it’s university where the British Crown prince, William, completed his studies. It’s also home to the iconic Swilcan Bridge, a storied local monument, and of course the majestic Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews which is world renowned.
The course itself is a 7,305-yard par 72, but many say it may feel far longer or shorter by the minute due to the constantly swirling winds that come ripping off the North Sea. It’s a unique track, and one highly coveted by the world’s top players, since it’s considered the most prestigious major championship. Rory McIlroy considers it as such and many experts thought he would be the favourite heading into the British Open; but at the last hour he withdrew from the tournament after suffering an ankle injury while playing pick up soccer. So, with McIlroy out of the mix, there are only a few who enter this year’s Open Championship as a ‘favoruite’.
The ‘Top 4’ with their current odds would be:
Jordan Spieth 9-2
Dustin Johnson 12-1
Justin Rose 16-1
Rickie Fowler 16-1
- Jordan Spieth
He’s the 21-year-old phenom who has been hot this season. He’s won the Valspar Championship, the Masters Tournament and the U.S. Open before he emerged victorious in the John Deere Classic. He currently ranks No. 2 in the world, but with a win at the Old Course, he’ll definitely overtake McIlroy for the number one spot. Spieth has been solid off the tee and is very accurate with his approach shots. He has great putting and leads the tour in both putting average and putts per round. We can expect these skills to come into play on the enormous greens at St Andrews.
- Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson is lacking momentum following a disastrous collapse in the U.S. Open. A three-putt from close range saw the world No. 4 lose his grasp on the lead and he ended up finishing tied for second. There were other flops in a major tournaments, he had similar close calls in the 2010 U.S. Open, 2010 PGA Championship and 2011 British Open as well.
Despite that, Johnson remains motivated and possibly those those near-misses might actually be helping him. If Johnson’s can have a strong mental game, he’ll be a force to reckon with at St Andrews this year. The course has favoured big hitters before because of its open landscape, and there’s no bigger hitter on tour, as Johnson. He ranks first in driving distance, averaging 319 yards off the tee.
- Justin Rose
Justin Rose has won before at major tournaments, having won the 2013 U.S. Open; but the Englishman has never ranked better than a tie for fourth, in 1998, in an Open Championship. He’s had a lot of recent success and so he’s being considered among the main favorites heading into St Andrews this week.
He won in the Zurich Classic this year and got two runner-up finishes, most recently in the Memorial Tournament. The biggest challenge for Rose in The Open Championship will be his consistency. He hasn’t found his flow or gotten on a streak yet, thus netting a wide array of finishing positions. Only this past week in the Scottish Open, he began with a pair of 66s but shot 72 and 76 over the weekend and fell completely out of the race.
- Rickie Fowler
Many say Rickie Fowler is hitting his stride at just the right time. He’s had some epic duels with McIlroy in last year’s British Open and PGA Championship. The two were neck-and-neck in both those majors and started what seemed like the perfect golf rivalry. But Fowler couldn’t keep up, he fell behind with a few weak showings earlier this season.
He’s been on the upswing since though, with a win in The Players Championship. This past week, Fowler was back in form in the Scottish Open with four consecutive rounds in the 60s. The 26-year-old seems to like the conditions overseas, and if he can find a way to stay hot heading into the British Open, he just might be someone to watch out for. So much so, that a showdown against Spieth is beginning to look like a possibility.
Our Pick: Darkhorse Johnson to win and surprise favourite Spieth