This is not straightforward. This is not the Masters, played at one course for life with a selected field of the alleged worlds “best”. This is as close to the FA Cup as you can get. In theory if you can stand up and hit a ball you can try and qualify, then play in the Open
Over 2900 players, through 32 exemption categories, try to pre-pre qualify, pre qualify, qualify then, finally, get one of those miraculous and prized 156 places. Once qualified they stand tall and face what could be one of the fiercest courses designed by man and we haven’t started to talk about the weather yet!
This is a course that craves a driver but, do you dare? This is one of the only courses in the world that has been built like a clockface, the outer ring of one to nine goes clockwise, the inner ring anti-clockwise but, in reality, that causes absolutely no difference because each nine (because of the circular motion) you can be sure the wind, and there will be wind will come at you in three different directions minimum. On each nine a par 5, for example, at 559 yards can be a driver and a 5 iron to a “biffer” like Woods one day, the next its a driver, 3 wood and pitch, just to lip out onto the green
If your tee time comes at 7-00am on the first morning it could be disasterous because of the continual fog, mist and perpetual rain which clears by 11-00am for a bright sunny day. On the other hand you could start at 11-00am with the wind getting up after a beautiful sunny morning and it is brutal. The weather part is pure luck but dont forget, this is the home of golf.
Now there will be some of you that will ask me where are the stats, the scrambling, the G-I-R adjusted scoring? Well, let me just say this. On any one hole you can hit it 300 yards and in a nano second up comes the wind and the same shot goes 220 yards the next. You can rip it 300 yards to the left one minute and it fall out of bounds and the next you hit it 220 and it hits a bump and turns 90 degrees to the right ending up in real rough. You, truly, truly need to take this one shot at a time and you have 7192 yards to think your way around
So we now go for the jugular. Who do I think will win? Ok, like The Masters, I am going to go through this first and tell you who cannot win, and we will see what we are left with
Firstly, here is what my head tells me:
1 – Any player on the European circuit who plays solely on the circuit has little chance of winning.
2 – There is a definite changing of the guard, meaning the young guns (Horschel, Spieth, Laird et al), far now outweigh the likes of Westwood, Garcia etc.
3 – The true Old, Gold and Bold are still around but few in number (Nickelson, Els, Couples etc) but there are many of those past their sell by date (Faldo, Jimenez), and there are a couple who got lucky once but never again.
4 – Whereas we used to look at Australia for our nearest cousin to grab up the trophy, thats very unlikely and it’s South Africa, if any of our “cousins” are going to sweep the board
5 – Asia growing but not strong enough yet. Not this year but getting closer, close enough to “worry”. They have already done it on the Ladies Tour.
6 – The weather is set fair and that could mean a couple of things. Hard fairways for one, lucky bounces for another. It could also mean that an ordinary player like Ben Curtis, or Todd Hamilton could creep in.
7 Finally high odds, high ranking, now limited to top 50, or under 100/1 and over top 50
Now we are down too a very manageable 23
Next let us look at it from a pure betting viewpoint
Bad value so therefore dropped:
Rickie Fowler – ranked 33 but only 45/1
Martin Kaymer – ranked 35 but only 50/1
Charl Schwartzel – ranked 14 but only 30/1
Currently, is he playing well enough? If no, delete
Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell, Rory Mcilroy, Martin Laird
In the final moments can he live with the pressure? If no, delete
Nicolas Colsaerts, Peter Hanson, Hunter Mahan, Bubba Watson
So now conveniently I am now down to my normal selections, 12 serious bets and two fun bets
My top five to follow, in order of preference
1 – Phil Mickelson – ranked 5, price 18/1, coming off a win, do his confidence any amount of good
2 – Keegan Bradley – ranked 18 at 100/1, blowing hot and cold, had time off, very talented, worth a look
3 – Matt Kuchar – “Konsistent Kooch” – at number six, valued 45/1, if he is in the pot after round one, back every day
4 – My “Gold and Bold” Ernie Els – ranked 13, climbing back up where he belongs, 25/1, not exactly value but bookies frightened
5 – Zach Johnson – ranked 29 I can’t get a handle on him! Wins when you least expect it, has ability but also ability to throw it away. Spit the dummy type if going wrong – 80/1
Two to watch and I mean carefully. Secondary bets if doing well first round
1 – Adam Scott – broke the hoodoo this year, will be battling – ranked 4th – 22/1
2 – Justin Rose – same applies but never plays two tournaments alike. Ranked 2 and 20/1
If I biff it well:
1 – Brendan Grace – South African who is bound to make a name for himself. Ranked 26 and 66/1
2 – Billy Horschel – backed all year, can’t stop now – ranked 36 – valued at 110/1
Three very seriously underated and currently “under ranked” players in this order:
1 – Jordan Spieth – 19 years old, new winner. If the last minute travel plans didn’t upset him then he could play very well. Ranked 54 but in reality is 38 – 125/1
2 – Kevin Streelman – again, new kid on the block. Constantly in the money, ranked 38 this week up to 35 next – value at 200/1
3 Thorbjorn Olasen – ranked 39 will stay at 39 but, Europes new star – 100/1
Fun Bets and dont go mad
Fred Couples at 275/1
Bo van Pelt at 125/1
Thats it. Talk to you when your older!
Michel-Jean Caule De Marolan