The 3rd major of the season is just around the corner, and the scene for this years British Open is perhaps one of the toughest courses on the Open circuit. Royal Lytham and St. Annes in Lancashire, England is widely regarded as daunting course to say the least, and in this article I’m going to share a little information about this course, as well as the guys to look out for in this years tournament. (I take no responsibility for losing bets!)
This beast of a course was the stage of Seve Ballesteros’s first major win back in 1979 as a young 22 year old. The course was especially gruelling for all players over the four days, it was down to Seve’s ability to go up and down that won him his first Open title, finishing under par for the tournament, the only player to do so that year.
The first Open championship held at Royal Lytham was in 1926, were the amateur Bobby Jones won his first Open and the 2nd of his majors that season, becoming the first ever player to do the double (US Open & British Open).
The last winner at Royal Lytham was David Duval in 2001. His first and only major championship. It was also the same year Gary Player played in his last British Open.
What stands out about this course is the number of bunkers it has. There are 11 of these vertical traps on average dotted around each hole. With the firm ground and slopes (synonymous with links golf), staying away from these menacing bunkers is in some cases pot luck! There are 3 difficult par 3’s on opening 9 holes, with a 205 yarder on the opening tee! The only course on the Open rotation with such a long opening par 3 hole.
This year the course has been lengthened, adding an extra 180 yards stretching the total length to 7118 yards. It’s not a conventionally beautiful course, but it has a certain charm. It’s also not like other links courses, in that it’s far from the sea, however, there’s still a sea breeze, enough to make a challenge of shot selection.
The course can certainly be cruel if you land in the wrong place, however, if you hit in the right place the way to the hole is open to you. It may not be the longest of courses, but it’s a very challenging one which demands careful thought and accurate shot making. It’s certainly going to be an intriguing contest that’s for sure!
Where to Put your Money
Royal Lytham isn’t necessarily a long course, so big hitters won’t have much of an advantage here. So the likes of Bubba Watson and other bombers won’t have much of an advantage at all here. Solid iron play is required, as well as an excellent touch around the greens.
- Tiger Woods – Despite his continuing erratic form, the betting public believe Tiger is the favourite to win the Open. If he stays away from his driver and sticks to hitting woods and long irons then this could be his first major since the US Open in 2008. At odds of 7/1 though, your money is perhaps better placed elsewhere.
- Lee Westwood – The perennial contender that is Westy. Always there or thereabouts when it really matters, odds of 12/1 seem fair, especially if you go for the each way bet.
- Rory Mcilroy – Going off Rory’s recent form, of missing the last 3 cuts, I can’t see him suddenly hitting top form for the 3rd Major of the season. Unless he picks up his game at this weeks Irish Open I can’t see him as a serious threat. At odds of 12/1 though, the betting public think otherwise. Maybe worth a sneaky each way punt.
- Luke Donald – The world No.1 is having another solid year so far. With 2 tour wins under his belt already and some consistent golf Luke seems like a good bet at 16/1. His excellent iron play and accuracy around the greens is going to be a threat on this course.
Graeme McDowell – 22/1, Justin Rose – 35/1, Ernie Els – 35/1, Rickie Fowler – 35/1, Dustin Johnson – 40/1
Whoever wins the Open Championship this year, I feel it’s going to be their first major. If I had to go with one of the above, it would be Dustin Johnson. He finished tied for 2nd in 2011, and he’s been playing some consistent golf so far this year.