The 150th Open Championship
This year on the rocky shores of the North Sea, we head back to the home of golf for the 150th edition of the world's most revered major championship. Yes of course, there's nothing more iconic than donning the coveted green jacket, no tougher test of golfing acumen than the US Open, and, well, the PGA is getting a lot better! But this is all from a somewhat myopic perspective. The British (No!), rather, OPEN Championship is the apex for a game expanding globally faster than ever (for reasons both good and bad, ahem)-quite simply this tournament is the creme de la creme.
Not since Tiger shockingly conquered Augusta in 2019 has there been a more important golfing tournament. The difference here is that Tiger created the drama three years ago. This summer, before the first peg hits the turf, this Open will dominate any other event in modern history. The same 72 holes will be played along the Scottish coast as any other tournament, but come Sunday afternoon, whoever conquers these legendary links will cement their place amongst the immortals.
Will it be the favorite, Rory McIlory? A man looking to complete an eight year odyssey back to the promised land. Will it be the Eldrick The Elder? The big cat wisely chose to pass on the arduous test of Brookline after admirably battling through 54 holes at Southern Hills. Now, he will seek once more to tame the hallowed grounds that assured his immortality in 2000 (and 2005, but who's counting). These two played together a few days ago at the famed Ballybunion in Ireland, and boy oh boy what a final pairing that would be come Sunday afternoon...
Or will it be Jon Rahm? The Spanish conquistador will be foaming at the mouth, hoping to conjure the spirit of his idol Seve (the late Champion three times over). Could it be one of the renegade studs chasing money over legacy for the chance at a better tomorrow? Or will it be a dark horse? We've seen it before: Todd Hamilton and Ben Curtis and just to name a couple. The possibilities are many, but the true contenders to reign victorious are but a handful.
My gut tells me it will be an iconic sort to be crowned Champion Golfer of the Year: the aforementioned Rory McIlroy (8-1), Jon Rahm (10-1), and Tiger Woods (40-1) are the headliners for me. But here are a few more names to consider who have the prerequisites needed to ace the ultimate test ahead...
*All prices as of early July and courtesy of Draftkings. Bold denotes a number that very much intrigues me...
Jordan Spieth-$10,000 / 18-1: There may be no player who Old Tom Morris would be more proud of to win the 150th Open Championship than Jordan. After taking his time (ahem) to take down Kuch at Royal Birkdale, he has the requisite game and resurgent form this year to nab another. Wacky fly fishing jitters aside, there’s no one I’d rather have standing over a 20 footer for the title than this guy (ok maybe Denny, but that’s neither here nor there).
Xander Schauffele-$9,900 / 22-1: The X-Man contended at Carnoustie, and more recently got the monkey off his back after taking down the Travelers in impressive fashion (along with PC at the Zurich, whatever that counts for). So coming in with the lethal combo of perpetual major lurkage and impeccable current form, he’s finally ready to take the next step.
Shane Lowry-$9,300 / 22-1: THE IRISH BEAR has been stalking another major since his seminal victory at Royal Portrush a few years ago. Based on his form over the last year, and proclivity for contending at Augusta and elsewhere, the gregarious big fella will be salivating at another shot to chug some Guinness from the ole Jug.
Dustin Johnson-$9,200 / 25-1: Lit the LIV flame ablaze and hurt his legacy in doing so…and yet, the major “underachiever” is an extreme MONDAY MISPRICE this week, may go under-owned, and has shown a penchant for going low in the wind, both Stateside and in the UK. DJ ain’t done yet, but stay tuned to you know who’s IG stories for confirmation of his pre-tourney whereabouts.
Hideki Matsuyama-$9,100 / 28-1: Although not traditionally thought of as a “linkspert” the Masters champ carded an impressive 66 back on this track in 2015 so we know he has it in him. With a win in the winds at the Sony we can write off his sub-par performance at the Scottish, giving him some extra time to rest and prepare for the ultimate test that lies ahead.
Sam Burns-$8,900 / 35-1: Sammy The Bull skyrocketed to arguably “the best player yet to win a major” this year with victories at the Valspar (defending) and Colonial-over world number one Scottie Scheffler. A recent scouting trip to Lahinch with the Bermuda Boyz, and continuing his upper echelon form at the Scottish makes me think he will lurk yet again next week.
Tyrell Hatton-$8,700 / 35-1: As the ornery half of the UK’s finest injury law firm, Hatton & Fleetwood, he’s won the Alfred Dunhill Links here, twice, and seems to fancy a stiff breeze like no other. If he can keep his composure (big ask), he can take this to the bank.
Tommy Fleetwood-$8,600 / 40-1: “I don’t wanna know the reasons why I looove you…” The only man I know to have reached follicular nirvana, along with Cousin Scotty Holdridge of course, could not be more due for a major. Can he vanquish his late round demons to claim the Claret Jug? That remains to be seen.
Brooks Koepka-$8,500 / 28-1: Would anyone be shocked if Brooks pulled this off out of nowhere? Ever the villain and loving every moment of it after jumping ship to LIV, his knee is getting healthier by the day, the wedding Instablasts are past him, and this will be his last shot this year to add some more major hardware to his mantle, in what may be a quickly closing window of his prime…
Bryson DeChambeau-$8,100 / 50-1: NFC Special (aka No Fckin Clue)-is the hand ok? How’s his ball speed? Is his NFT market doomed? Is Mercury in retrograde? Questions aplenty, but if the wind remains tame, the mad scientist meatsack can bomb and gouge the Old Course like Alamagordo (or Winged Foot).
Joaquin Niemann-$8,000 / 50-1: The former world numbah one amateur has blossomed into a ball-striking, wiry powerhouse that would make Mr. Hogan proud. Now with a few big wins under his belt (Riv most recently), and comfortable on linksy layouts, I expect his stellar play of late to continue.
Max Homa-$7,900 / 80-1: Mighty Max is enjoying yet another year of success, so despite a suspect (but improving) major resumé, his win equity his high enough where I would not be shocked to see him in the mix come late Sunday.
Marc Leishman-$7,700 / 65-1: 2015 co-runner up with King Louis to ZEEJ, the Wild Leishdoggie as he’s known down-under (maybe) is back with a vengeance. He said it himself to Australian Golf Digest recently, “I’ve been seeing some really good stuff and that makes me excited about St Andrews.” After watching him crumble down the stretch back then, this could be his last best shot to get his long coveted major trophy.
Adam Scott-$7,700 / 65-1: Like his aforementioned compatriot, the handsome Tasmanian devil’s career will seem somewhat unfulfilled without an Open title. Infamously blew one a decade ago (wow), he’s still surprisingly yet to commit to LIV and thus clearly focused on this more than anything. Only concern is the beige fit camouflage getting him lost in the fescue.
Seamus Power-$7,400 / 65-1: FAMOUS SEAMUS as we affectionately call him has proven he can contend in both birdie fests, and the tough ones as well. He will be especially hungry after disappointing in his native Irish Open a fortnight ago.
Patrick Reed-$7,300 / 65-1: “Ex-Captain America Captures the Claret Jug” would be a headline The Shark would certainly love, maybe even with a final pairing for the Masters champion with his arch nemesis, Rory. We can hope, can’t we? *HUMPDAY HAMMER*
Christiaan Bezuidenhout-$7,300 / 100-1: The Bez is buzzin’ after a splendid go at the John Deere to cap off a resurgent late Spring in the States. Lurkage at Kiawah and elsewhere over the past two years make the South African sensation one we can all root for.
Thomas Pieters-$7,200 / 100-1: The ascension for the heir to the “Belgian Bomber” throne has been derailed in Covid times due to injury and sickness, both physical and mental. And yet, a recent return to form, a prior Top 5 at Augusta, and piss missiles aplenty make Tommy Boy very intriguing to me. The only question that remains is whether our pal @Romeothecaddy will file to re-adopt his first born fantasy son?
Jordan L. Smith-$7,200 / 100-1: A strong run of form coming in, capped off by an incredible ace Friday morning at the Renaissance Club, makes this Englishman a dark horse of the highest caliber.
Victor Perez-$7,100 / 100-1: The only man with a jawline rivaling Adam Scott’s, the Frenchman actual has the most local knowledge based on his residence adjacent to St. Andrews, and coming off his playoff victory over the next guy on the list, he’s ready to contend again, for the biggest prize of all.
Ryan Fox-$7,100 / 80-1: The Kiwi’s rocky start to the Scottish hopefully will depress his ownership for the Open. Four Top 3s in his last 7 starts is dare-I-say Tigeresque, minus the wins of course, but still makes him a serious threat. Also, long AF.
Harris English-$7,000 / 150-1: OG Fantasy Family Tree member, COUSIN HARRIS is healthy again and has poked his head into many a major leaderboards over the last two years. Value central right here for the don of the Sea Island mob.
Cameron Tringale-$7,000 / 150-1: Can't believe I'm including the Incredible Tringalini here, but he just shot a 61 out of nowhere to begin the Scottish, and is hanging on as of this writing Friday afternoon. He showed up at Brookline and has gone close countless times in the past. If nothing else I can’t wait to see his goofy interactions with the patrons.
Gary Woodland-$7,000 / 100-1: Impressive start to the Scottish for the Jayhawk, maybe he can channel some Tom Watson magic as he did at Pebble not too long ago…
Kevin Kisner-$6,900 / 150-1: Lost an epic duel to Franny at Carnoustie and is having a resurgent year Stateside, thrives in the wind, plus, we know this ain’t no hobby…
Stewart Cink-$6,800 / 200-1: UNCLE STEWEY memorably (and gut-wrenchingly) took down a spry 59 year old Mr. Watson at Turnberry in ‘09, and could certainly poke his head into T15 range yet again come Sunday.
Justin Harding-$6,800 / 200-1: The sneaky South African putting aficionado has lurked at Augusta and elsewhere; opened with an impressive -5 at the Scottish as he rounds back into form just at the right time.
Wyndham Clark-$6,600 / 300-1: Playing much better of late, the Oregon/OSU bomber can channel his coastal experience to sneak into T20 range if things break his way.
Richard Bland-$6,500 / 200-1: Old Man Bland is dangerous here, especially if windy. He unexpectedly contended at a long Torrey last year and has won on the DP World Tour somewhat recently. One last run?
Joohyung Kim: $6,500 / 300-1: I don’t think he can win, but he’s lurking in the Scottish as of yesterday morning, had a T17 at the windy Colonial, as well as a 23rd at the difficult US Open. Never say never...
Alas, these are my thoughts just less than a week out from tee off next Thursday. Wind will most certainly play a factor-the question is how often, and how much? As will the LIV drama, escalating to a crescendo and potentially more than a few awkward pairings, especially on the weekend. But nevertheless, no matter how it all unfolds, any fan of the game, on this side of the Pond or the other, will sit in awe as the year's final major championship is played as The Open-The Tradition Unlike Any Other...