After being disqualified from the Memorial tournament, following a positive Covid test, Jon Rahm was able to continue his winning streak to take the top spot at the U.S. Open in June. Can he go back-to-back and do it yet again at the British Open? Spoiler Alert… Just kidding you have to keep reading…
Alright – Lets set the stage: Rewind time to just 1 year ago, when last year’s event, like so many others, was cancelled due to the restrictions put in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic. After a long-awaited return, the Open Championship finally is happening this week. Even though there have been numerous players that have withdrawn from the British Open, for various reasons, in the days leading up to this year’s final major, we expect fireworks, nonetheless. Hosted at Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England, the field remains strong with 17 of the top players in the Official World Golf Ranking planning to tee it up.
The 2021 Open Championship will be played on a slightly shorter course. Unlike Kiawah Island & Torrey Pines, St. George’s sits at only 7,204 yards and is a Par-70 course, so golfers will be able to focus more on accuracy rather than smashing bombs off the tee. Read that again, they call a 7,200-yard par 70 a short course. By today’s standards maybe, but for us weekend warriors, that is a mighty challenge. Combine that with the fact that It looks like the weather gods have blessed the four days for the 149th Open Championship, with calm winds and very little precipitation predicted across the event, we may see some lower scores than normal. It also looks like neither side of the draw will be favored as the weather is remarkably consistent throughout the morning and afternoon of all four days. That means the stats that will make the biggest difference will be strokes gained on the approach (SG:APR) – meaning how tight they can stick their approach shots to the pins.
Outcomes for The Open are notoriously hard to predict with the weather typically being the biggest wildcard to account for. If the weather turns, long drivers, like Dechambeau, may be humbled. They may likely find the wind to be rather challenging to work against and might need to consider adjusting their strategy accordingly. But, let’s be honest, those guys will most likely continue to bomb and gouge their way no matter the conditions. However, with that strategy, on foreign soil, with completely different conditions than a typical PGA event, will the bombers have the advantage or will the shorter knockers who find fairways post some low numbers early?
The answer may surprise you…
Here is who we think will come out on top this week:
1. OUR PICK – Collin Morikawa (+2500) is looking to be our top pick this week. With an average of 1.502 strokes per round, he is our top pick to win. Paul Casey, who is 2nd in that category, sits at a full half stroke behind him. Combine that with Morikawa’s accuracy when using his driver, the wind will likely not be a huge issue for him. He could go low and hoist the hardware.
2. MOST POPULAR CHOICE – Jon Rahm (+700) is another obvious favorite to win at St. George’s. Rahm has been known to maintain his accuracy when faced with windy conditions and he comes in at number 7 in the SG:APR rankings. While he can also be known for long drives, Rahm will be able to use his skills to navigate the challenges this course offers. His short game is underrated, and he makes a lot of putts. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the leaderboard come Sunday.
3. LONGSHOT ALERT – Russell Henley (+10000). While he may not have the most impressive numbers in the field, he is our pick for the long shot With an average 0.901 strokes gained, Henley sits in the number 10 spot and his sand save percentage gives him a fighting chance at some good numbers . Ranking in the top 40, he isn’t the most far-fetched potential winner, but came in 13th last month at Torrey Pines and could be poised to win his 1st ever Major. The only drawback for Henley is his 289.6-yard average driving distance. While big hitters won’t get much of an advantage, he will have a little more work to do reaching the longer holes, but his SG:APR ratings will likely help him make up some of that difference. Also, with most holes sitting at under 500 his accuracy will give him a slight advantage as long as he can maintain it on the longer holes.
All things considered, I for one am excited to be setting my alarm for 3 am PST to get up and watch this years final Major. While I am certainly a morning person, you normally couldn’t pay me to enough to get up that early unless I had a chance to tee it up at a Top 100 Golf Course. Even then it better be a comped round, with plenty of swing juice and a hosted banquet afterwards…
Here is a link to the pairings and tee times in case you decide to wake up at 0’dark thirty and watch with us. Let’s raise a glass to this years British Open (Open Championship). We have waited a long time to see you, my friend. I am sure you will not disappoint. I just wish we had a chance to see some Sunday Red!
Soon enough my golfing friends…soon enough. We can only hope