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Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Open Championship - Preview

The Open Championship returns home to the Old Course at St. Andrews this week, and here is a preview to get you off and running in your research. Before we get started, I have to confess that this is one of my two favorite tournaments, with the Masters being the other. Nothing beats waking up before the sun rises on the East Coast of the U.S. just to have the live action waiting on me.

Now to what matters.

When it comes to researching the Open, previous experience and success in the Open Championship matters quite a bit. As it relates specifically to St. Andrews, course history matters just as much. This is one of the few tournaments where course history easily trumps current form.

While it has experienced a renovation since the 2010 Open, it's hard to imagine what it takes to lift the Claret Jug changing all that much.

The Old Course at St. Andrews is a 7,297 yard par-72 layout. It's a bit different than most par-72s, as it features just two par 5s and two par 3s. For you math majors, that's 14 par 4s.

Since 1990, here are the winners and runners-up of the five Opens played at St. Andrews.

  • 1990 - Nick Faldo (18-under 270) over Mark McNulty and Payne Stewart (275)
  • 1995 - John Daly (282) over Costantino Rocca in a playoff
  • 2000 - Tiger Woods (269) over Thomas Bjorn and Ernie Els (277)
  • 2005 - Tiger Woods (274) over Colin Montgomerie (279)
  • 2010 - Louis Oosthuizen (272) over Lee Westwood (279)
So what does that tell us? 
  • Well, the home of golf absolutely recognizes class, as there wasn't anybody better than Nick Faldo in the early 1990s and certainly there was nobody better that TW in the 2000-2005 period. 
  • Length has traditionally mattered quite a bit here, as bombers have been able to carry some of the worst trouble on the course. The redesign may have addressed some of this, but it's hard to think that long will be wrong.
What about the stats?
  • Don't go crazy this week. This is a very different course than the regular PGA TOUR courses and most of the courses on the European Tour. That means the way a player scrambles or hits GIR in Florida has very little to do with how they handle Scotland. 
  • Driving Distance will matter. Considering there are 14 par 4s, that will probably be a factor as well. 
Don't forget!!!
  • Take a hard look at the results of the Dunhill Links. It's a rotation, but 36 of the 72 holes are played at St. Andrews. 

We will return later in the week with the power ranking and the one-and-done selection. Until then, happy research!

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