We’ve made it. It’s the final major championship of the 2020-2021 PGA Tour season. While it is sad, it was really nice to get back to normalcy and have a full PGA Tour schedule with all events taking place as originally intended. All of the majors have been fantastic from the drama to the storylines to the level of golf played. It will be a tall task for the Open Championship to live up to the expectations but I can’t wait to see what happens.
We have not seen an Open Championship since Shane Lowry took home in the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush on July 21st of 2019. It’s been 722 days since we watched the Irishman run away with the tournament (six shot victory) and became the Champion golfer of the year in front of his fellow countryman. He may not want to give up the jug having held onto it for so long.
Royal St. George plays host to the 149th Open Championship. It has hosted this major championship 14 times dating back to 1894 when J.H. Taylor won the event and as recently as 2011 when Darren Clarke won his one and only major. The course measures out 7,189 yards and is located along the coast of Sandwich, Kent, England. It will play as a par 70 like it did in 2011 where the average round score was 73. The players will battle swirling coastal winds, lumpy rolling terrain, extremely deep bunkers, fescue everywhere and rain that can come at any moment during a round. Royal St. George is widely regarded as the toughest in the British Open rotation of courses. That seems strange for a course that isn’t even 7,200 yards but there’s a lot to contend with. There are multiple drivable par 4s but when the wind kicks up or your ball rolls into one of these crazy deep bunkers, it could go from a birdie opportunity to a double bogey really quick.
Let’s really quick take a closer look at the last two trips to Royal St. George for the Open Championship. In 2011, Darren Clarke was 150-to-1 shot to win before the tournament and in 2003, Ben Curtis was anywhere between 300 to 500-to-1 shot. I tell you this in hopes that you’ll keep some longshots in mind when building your lineups. When you’ve got a course this difficult, even the best golfers in the world will struggle. We talked about the difficulty of Kiawah before the PGA Championship and we all saw what Phil Mickelson did at 300-to-1 before the tournament. I’d also like to add this interesting note that I read from Justin Ray’s twitter (@JustinRayGolf) from the Action Network and the Athletic, “Padraig Harrington won #TheOpen in 2007 and 2008. Since then, no champion finished in the top-25 at The Open the year before their win.”
It has been a wild week leading up to the Open Championship with 21 early withdrawals mostly due to complications caused by COVID-19. Some of the bigger names being Masters Champ; Hideki Matsuyama, Sungjae Im, Bubba Watson, Si Woo Kim, Kevin Na, Matt Wolff, and former Open Champ Zach Johnson. Despite all of that, we’ve still got a full 156 players in the field. There are 30 players in the field this week who also participated in the 2011 edition. You’ll see a few of those names in my playbook.
It should be a fun week in England, let’s get to the playbook. Good luck everyone!
ONE AND DONE SELECTION: Paul Casey