WHO ARE THE MAIN CONTENDERS?
We’ve examined the facts and stats and picked out a six-man shortlist which doesn’t include the World No.1, Tiger or Bryson…
THE FORM MAN
CAMERON SMITH Fresh off another top-five finish at the Masters, Cameron Smith looks every inch the man to beat at The Open. He’s won two big-name tournaments already this year and has built a reputation for being one of the best putters on the planet. He currently possesses the best scoring average on the PGA Tour and ranks inside the top 40 for three-putt avoidance and strokes gained around the greens in four of the last five seasons – two metrics which are especially key at St Andrews.
THE COMEBACK KID
JORDAN SPIETH His practice swing looks a sight and he’s still struggling with his putter, but you’d be a fool to write off Jordan Spieth, especially at St Andrews where he finished fourth in 2015. The big fairways will be to his liking and having grown up in Texas, he should be able to handle the windy conditions. Besides, he’s never finished worse than 30th in the last six Opens.
THE FORMER CHAMPION
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN Louis Oosthuizen has replaced Tiger as the lord of this links. He won by seven strokes in 2010 and only Zach Johnson could better him in a play-off five years later. He also led after 54 holes at Royal St George’s, so at the very least he’s a smart each-way bet at 18-1.
THE SHORT GAME KING
Shane Lowry looks a steal at odds of 25-1. The 2019 champion loves the Old Course, has three top-six finishes at the Dunhill Links (including last year), and is playing some of the best golf of his life. Oh, and he’s notched seven top-15 finishes in his last eight stroke play events. We can’t help feel a big win is just around the corner.
THE DUNHILL LINK
We had to double take when we saw that Danny Willett is priced at 125-1. He’s a Major champion and a proven big-game player who won last year’s Dunhill Links, shooting rounds of 66-68 on the Old Course. He’s not missed a cut in his last six Open appearances and has two sixth-place finishes in that run. The first came at St Andrews in 2015.
THE REDEMPTION STORY
People remember the 63 and then the 80 Rory Mcilroy shot as a fresh-faced youngster at the 2010 Open, but they forget that he recovered brilliantly to finish third. He did miss the 2015 Open after injuring himself playing football, but his body of work on the Old Course includes runner-up finishes in the two Dunhill Links he played between 2010 and 2015. His magical Masters finish has got us believing that he’ll end an eight-year wait for a Major.