Damien Kayat previews the 2022 edition of the PGA Tour’s 150th Open Championship taking place at the Old Course, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland.
2022 US PGA Tour/ DP World Tour
150th Open Championship
The Old Course, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland
What an auspicious time to be holding the 150th edition of the world’s oldest Major: The Open Championship. This tournament is a bastion of tradition that conjures memoires of golf in its purist form. What’s more, this year’s event is being held at the most iconic course in links golf: the Old Course at St Andrews.
It just seems the perfect venue during this period of massive upheaval. The LIV Golf experiment threatens the very traditions that this venue so perfectly extols.
Hopefully, the rugged links landscape can momentarily distract us from the corporate greed that is turning the heads of some of the world’s finest players. It got me to thinking: isn’t Greg Norman the perfect figurehead of the entire LIV Golf venture? The Great White Shark was one of golf’s first sporting brands, exhilarating the world with his feats of driving for many years.
But the Aussie was an infamous bottler in golf’s big occasions (winning only two Majors during his entire career). No wonder he is indifferent to the destruction of golfing tradition: he probably feels he never left enough of an impression on it.
The oldest (and in my opinion) greatest of the four Majors was wisely moved to the end of the Major rotation three years ago. Organised by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (which has a strangely cultish ring to it), the Open Championship is the only Major to be played outside of the States.
Willie Park won the first edition of the Open and this will be the 150th edition of this event. The aforementioned R&A has decided to allow the LIV golfers to compete this year. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception the likes of Mickelson and DJ receive.
Tiger Woods has only made two starts since his career-threatening car crash in February. Woods was forced to withdraw from the US Open but he was destined to tee it up this week.
Woods will be looking for a unique St Andrews threepeat this week. Woods won at the Old Course in 2000 by eight shots. He picked up another dominant victory at this venue in 2005. Victory here may actually surpass Woods’ magnificent 2019 win at Augusta.
As traditional seaside-links as you can get, the Old Course at St Andrews is lovingly referred to as the Home of Golf. The course evolved without the help of specific architects in its formative stages.
But Dew Anderson and Old Tom Morris are often sited as the godfathers of the Open Championship-era Old Course.
It first staged the Championship in 1873 and it has hosted the event a further 28 times since.
It has changed very little since then, holding on to the rugged beauty that is so quintessential to links golf. These seaside-links is utterly dependent on the St Andrews Bay weather. Rory McIlroy shot an opening-round 63 here in 2010. But that was followed by an 80 in the eye of a Friday storm. It seems as if the weekend may see some pretty strong gusts this year.
As always with the Open Championship, it’s essential to look at previous links form. It also seems that Scottish Open preparation has been an essential component to victory in recent years (don’t tell Rory McIlroy that). Driving distance is probably more important than accuracy this week.
The wide, undulating fairways are relatively easy to find by Open Championship standards. The pot bunkers are always a bit of a lottery. But I think it’s ultimately worth it to try cut some corners with power around St Andrews. Par 4 scoring will be essential this week. 14 of the 18 holes around St Andrews are par 4’s. Louis Oosthuizen played the par 4’s in 13-under when he won here in 2010.
Scrambling is also key. Players will need to extricate themselves from some tight bunkers and make some great lag-putts (seven, huge double greens will result in some massive putts).
Rory McIlroy has been in incredible form and makes a logical favourite. He is a links specialist with plenty of Major experience. But his recent inability to close out a Major does concern me somewhat. Xander Schauffele won in Scotland and looks a real threat this week. Jordan Spieth is a perennial links contender who has also been bubbling along nicely this year.
Jon Rahm is an interesting one. A year ago, it would have been unfathomable not to have him near the top of your power rankings. But the burly Spaniard has largely flattered to deceive this year. On the other hand, current World Number One Scottie Scheffler has been in phenomenal form this year. Honestly, there are just too many sub-plots to adequately cover in this article.
Louis Oosthuizen has enjoyed a poor season but could find his rhythm at the site of his greatest victory. Defending champ Morikawa struggled at the Renaissance Club but comes in at an attractive price. And then you have all the LIV renegades. How will the likes of Koepka and DJ perform this week? It’s all adding up to being one of the most fascinating Open Championships in recent memory
2021: Collin Morikawa
2020: event cancelled due to Covid
2019: Shane Lowry (-15)
2018: Francesco Molinari (-8)
2017: Jordan Spieth (-12)
2016: Henrik Stenson (-20)
Betting Favourites (To Win):
Rory McIlroy (10/1) Xander Schauffele (16/1) Jordan Spieth (18/1)
Jon Rahm (18/1)
Scottie Scheffler (18/1)
Tony Finau- To Win (50/1), To Place (10/1)
Finau has to be worth a crack this week. Sure, he probably wont win. But 10/1 to place looks very enticing for the big-hitting American.
As I have said, big-hitting could prove very advantageous this week. Finau has the ability to marry big-hitting with accuracy.
Finau has also shown himself to be an accomplished links proponent (his worst finish in five Open Championships is T27). In that period, he has two top 10 finishes (including a 3rd in 2019). He also comes into this event in decent form (he has three top 10’s in his last seven events).
Bryson DeChambeau- To Win (125/1), To Place (25/1)
Who would have thought two years ago that we would be seeing DeChambeau at 125/1 to win a Major Championship?
The 2020 US Open champ has been through the ringer with injury and the switch to LIV golf has probably been quite disruptive (not to mention lucrative). But surely, he’s worth some value at 125/1.
Lest we forget, this is the man who won at Winged Foot by six shots. St Andrews is a course that will reward power from the tee. If he pulls some decent tee times and catches benign conditions, DeChambeau could make a farce of this layout.
The Man to Beat- Jordan Spieth- To Win (18/1), To Place (36/10)
As much as I wanted to back McIlroy this week, I couldn’t resist Jordan at 18/1.
Spieth has never missed the cut at an Open Championship and he simply relishes the challenges posed by links golf. His amazingly inventive short-game make him a palpable threat in any links event.
He was in contention at the Renaissance Club last week until a late stumble saw him finish 10th. But he will have got a lot out of the severe conditions.
Spieth won the Claret Jug in 2017 and finished in a tie for 4th here in 2015 (missing out on a playoff by just a shot).
Another Bet- Gary Woodland to finish in top 10 at 10/1
Gary Woodland has disappeared off the radar somewhat since his remarkable US Open win at Pebble Beach (itself a links-style design).
But there have been very recent signs that he could be due for a resurgence. Woodland finished 10th at the recent US Open.
He was also right in contention in Scotland last week before a poor final round. I just have a good feeling about Woodland this week.