GOLF THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP ; PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS

Written by Andy

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Welcome to The Open Championship 2013 from Muirfield in East Lothian, Scotland which is the 142nd time this historic championship has been played in the game of golf.

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Out of the 141 previous winners we have defending champion Ernie Els of South Africa but interestingly enough there has been wins from 13 different countries and they are as follows

Scotland 41, USA 41, England 22, South Africa 10, Australia 9, Jersey 7, Spain 3, Northern Ireland 2, Ireland 2 with Argentina, France, New Zealand & Zimbabwe all with 1 win.

Muirfield

This is the 15th time The Open has been played at Muirfield and the first since 2002 which ironically enough the defending champion Ernie Els won that year. Other years at Muirfield are as follows 1896, 1901, 1906, 1912, 1929, 1935, 1948, 1959, 1966, 1972, 1980, 1987, 1992 and 2002.

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Harry Vardon of Jersey leads the way with Open wins as he won the tournament on 6 occassions.

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The highest placed active golfer today is Tiger Woods who has 3 Open wins the last win coming in 2006

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No American has won The Open since Stewart Cink in 2009

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No Scottish player has won The Open since Paul Lawrie in 1999

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The highest score after 4 days at Muirfield to win The Open was achieved by Tom Watson in 1980 when he finished -13, Nick Faldo almost beat that record in 1992 when he achieved -12

So there you have a brief rundown of some of the stats lets get right into my predictions and main contenders to win The Open!

Main Contenders

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Phil Mickelson 

One of my all time favourite golfers and a man who is never afraid to take on any golf course on the planet which makes him one of the best and most exciting players to watch. Played some lovely golf last week to win the Scottish Open in Aberdeen last week and with that being not that different to Muirfield many see Phil as the man to win The Open as well. Can he sustain last weeks form and win twice in a row? As difficult as that may be he has the tools to do so and links golf seemed to agree with his game last week so why not again this week. I’d also consider how well Mickelson has done in the last Major this season as he tied for 2nd in the US Open.

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Ernie Els

The defending champion may have lost his game last week in Aberdeen but his form this season has been solid. I also mentioned before the last time The Open was in Muirfield in 2002 Ernie Els won that tournament so he knows exactly what is required to do it again. The Big Easy knows his way around this golf course and I for one can see him defending his crown right to day 4. His recent win in June at the BMW International Open in Munich shows Ernie is close to his excellent form that seen him win The Open last year. Els will be in the mix.

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Jason Day

This man loves The Majors and it really is only a matter of time before he gets one. Normally you will find Jason Day at least 40/1 but the bookies have slashed his price to 28’s as they know by now this man has several top 3 finishes at Majors and is considered a massive threat to the rest of the field. Expect this man to repeat his fine form he showed at The US Open where he tied for 2nd place. He is due to win something as well. Day could be the man this year.

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Justin Rose

The form Justin Rose has shown in the past year or so has been a tremendous achievement, His US Open win was quickly followed up with a solid effort the following week on the PGA Tour and he was in the running right until the last day. Rose has another golden chance to win a Major title and for me its no surprise he is favourite behind Tiger Woods but for me thats the bookies being predictable making Tiger favourite all the time as Rose’s game is in much better shape. Could we see Major win number two and a second Major in a row? I think Rose won’t be far off.

Great Value Outsiders

So there is 4 main contenders for you, now I will select 4 players who the bookies won’t back with the same odds but who have a terrific chance to do well at Muirfield.

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Mikko Ilonen 

Already a winner on the European Tour this year and one of the steady players to boot with multiple top tens, the man from Finland could be a threat at Muirfield. Expect to see his odds way into the 100’s but this man has talent there is no doubt about it.

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Martin Laird

Scotland has a few steady promising players at the moment but perhaps none more so than Martin Laird who plays his golf mostly in American on the PGA Tour. Another player you will find in the 100’s but has had many top 10’s and a few top 5’s in the past season or two. Laird represents excellent value and if he can get off to a good start in round 1 expect to see him there or thereabouts.

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Branden Grace

The South African was so unlucky last week in Aberdeen to lose to Phil Mickelson in the play off but that shouldn’t get him down as he played some lovely stuff and has been playing well for weeks. If he can use last weeks disappointment to good effect in Muirfield he will be right up there again no doubt about it.

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Thomas Bjorn

The Great Dane has been on an amazing run on the European Tour in the past 5/6 weeks and is red hot in every aspect of his game. He really is due a win and The Open could be the place he does it. For me Bjorn is the best tip from my good value players and I hope he gets the win he deserves. Thomas Bjorn has finished in 2nd place at 3 Majors in his career to date and this may just be the one his form deserves to go one better and become Open Champion 2013.

An honourable mention has to go to Lee Westwood who has been using the coach of Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and Hunter Mahan in the build up to The Open, Lee says he is hitting the ball further and he is long overdue a Major for me as he has top 5 finishes in every Major in golf.

Tasty First Round Tee Times to look out for on Thursday

Morning Session

09.00 am – Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Sir Nick Faldo

09.11 am – Justin Rose, Ernie Els, Brandt Snedeker

09.22 am – Ian Poulter, Keegan Bradley, Billy Horschel

09.44 am – Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Phil Mickelson

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Afternoon Session

14.01 pm – Charl Schwartzel, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia

14.12 pm – Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar, Luke Donald

14.23 pm – Matteo Manassero, Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan

14.45 pm – Tiger Woods, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen

So there you have it Golf fans and sports fans looking for inspiration on who to back on Thursday onwards!

Hope you enjoyed our rundown of The Open Championship 2013 and we can’t wait until it starts as it should be a great week!

Good luck everyone

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