The 142nd Open Championship returns to Scotland next week to The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield. This will be the 16th staging of the tournament here, the most recent 2002 won by Ernie Els. In 1987 and 1992 Nick Faldo was triumphant (if you're old enough to remember he finished with 18 pars and thanked the media "from the heart of his bottom"!!) The previous four winners were Watson(80) Trevino(72) Nicklaus (66) and Player(59). High class venues always produce high class winners and I'm sure this year will be no different. A notable result at Muirfield is that the Amateur Championship staged in 1998 was won by 18 year old Sergio Garcia. I tipped El Niño for this at the start of the year and after his 69 hole performance at the US Open in June I fancy him strongly to pick up the Claret Jug if he can keep the disasters off his card....time will tell!!! Reports from Scotland are that the course is in magnificent shape and, with expected dry weather, will be running firm and fast. There have been some alterations to the course in the last eleven years, mostly lengthening of some holes and some strategic new bunkering, which some will find fault with but for most of the competitors won't make any difference.
So who's going to win ? I hear you ask!
The Top ten in the World Rankings are all capable of winning but these are my thoughts :
Tiger Woods: although he's won four times this year looked out of sorts in his last two starts including US Open
Rory McIlroy : has been out of sorts for six months !!
Justin Rose :most consistent player for the past two years but has he already had his Major moment for the year ??
Adam Scott : Ditto !!
Phil Mickelson : Muirfield can't suit his game or can it ?!!
Brandt Snedeker : has never contended in a major yet
Luke Donald : great talent but .....
Matt Kuchar : US Open was right up his street but didn't produce the goods
Graeme McDowell : Certainly knows how to close out tournaments ...he'll either MC or win !!!!
Louis Oosthuizen : indifferent form this term. Won at St Andrews in 2010 but this will be a different test.
With the course playing firm and fast the tournament will be wide open( if you'll pardon the pun!) and experience of links golf will be a huge benefit. For this reason I am inclined not to support the US contingent but this could be a dangerous ploy!!
My money will be invested with the aforementioned Garcia and a little interest will also be with Italian superstar Matteo Mannasero. It's only a matter of time before this youngster is competing for Majors. I followed his group at Turnberry in 09 when he was only 16 and I was mightily impressed by how mature his game was. His impressive win at Wentworth oozed class and showed how ready he now is.
There are plenty huge prices available about unheralded players and if you have a fancy you should take a chance .
Enjoy the golf and remember to wear your Suncream !!!!
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!