Be prepared for some Sandwich puns this week for the British Open 2011! Lots of the top players in the World are in great form and apart from the non-attendance of a certain TW, who would probably not contend anyway going on form, it promises to be a fantastic four days at Royal St George’s. So, onto the main contenders and a few outsiders to whet our appetite….
Rory McIlroy – 8s best with Paddy Power
Playing his first tournament back since spreadeagling the field at Congressional, Rors looks to have everything to win a British Open at this point in his career and is one of the best ballstrikers in the game these days which is definitely one of the characeristics needed to win around Royal St George’s this week. The 4 week break, however, could still come back to haunt him although with the practice facility he has at home he could well be one of the better prepared players this week.
Luke Donald – 12/1 best with Ladbrokes
The World No.1 putted the field into submission last weekend at the Scottish Open and his overall ease and patience with which he played the Castle Stuart Links bodes well for The Open at Sandwich. He has the game for any Major but on one of the tighter links courses on the Open rota , Luuuuke could well be enjoying a toasty alongside the Claret Jug on Sunday evening!
Lee Westwood – 12s best with Ladbrokes
Westwood has been knocking on the door for quite a while in the Majors with last year’s Open at St Andrews being a case in point. There is no such thing as deserving a Major because Greg Norman would probably have 20 if that theory is correct but I don’t think there would be many to begrudge Lee a Major Championship, he will have the home crowd behind him along with most other fans at Sandwich so I would expect this Nottingham Forest fan to be in the top 5 once again but, unfortunately, he may come up a sambo short of a picnic basket once more when it comes to winning a Major!
Martin Kaymer – 25/1 with Paddy Power
The German has not found the form he did in 2010, it would have been hard to repeat it to be fair – a little like G Mac. He does have the game to win around the links though as he showed to aplomb at Carnoustie, Kingbarns and St Andrews during the Dunhill Championship. His putting, when on form, is better than most so if he can get into contention early expect him to hang in there over the weekend if conditions get rough.
Sergio Garcia – 33/1 with Ladbrokes
The Spaniard would be a popular winner, after many good performances over the past 10 years at The Open including a playoff defeat to Harrington in 2007. Before McIlroy, Garcia was probably the best ballstriker out there and while he still hits the ball fantastically well his form with the putter is the big question mark over his quest for that much wanted Major. He has returned to some form recently, his US Open performance being one of note. He is a big price at 33s and should be in the shake up come Sunday.
The Irish Contenders
Graeme McDowell – 33s best with Ladbrokes
G Mac came back to some sort of form last weekend in Scotland but a quadruple bogey 9 during the Final Round definitely set him back more than he would like. Having grown up playing links golf he definitely has the game and, more importantly, the temperament to win The Open and if he gets into contention after two rounds he will need to show more steel than he did during the third rounds at Celtic Manor and Castle Stuart this year if he is to hold aloft the Claret Jug on Sunday evening. It’ll be a great party if he manages too though!!
Padraig Harrington – 40/1 with bet365 and Ladbrokes
Paddy has been driving himself and all his fans mad in recent years after the changes he made after winning 3 Majors have not resulted in the results he was hoping for. The Stackstown member, however, has the pedigree, the skills and the determination to win another Open and this course has similarities to both Carnoustie and Birkdale. If Harrington can keep the disasters off his card, that has plagued him for a long time, this week I expect him to be right in there come Sunday and down the stretch at the Open there are few better these days with a sniff of a win at the Majors.
Other Contenders and Long Shots
Steve Stricker – 35/1 with Paddy Power
Stricker is one of the form players in the world over the past month or so and if there is an American to contend at The Open, as per usual most years, I would expect it to be him. He is solid under pressure and when his putter gets hot he could find himself right in the hunt come the back 9 on Sunday at Sandwich.
Ian Poulter – 70/1 with Boylesports
Poults love The Open and he will be up for it this week, despite him not being in fantastic form he could well contend this week and go better than he did when chasing Harrington home at Birkdale a few years back. Going on what he intends to wear this weekend it could be a colour four days at Royal St George’s, expect Poulter to start well and he could be the one to lead after round 1. If he does, do not expect him to let go of a lead lightly.
Jason Day – 40s with Paddy and Ladbrokes
The Aussie has been one of the most impressive performers at the Majors this year so far, only bettered by Schwartzel and McIlroy overall really. Greg Norman shot 63 in the final round here in 1993 to beat Faldo and Langer among others and the hard hitting golfer from Down Under could again turn the tables on some of his more fancied rivals this week. A good each way chance.
Thomas Bjorn – 200/1 with Boylseports, Bet Chronicle and bet365
The likeable Dane is currently the last player into the field since the withdrawl of Vijay Singh this week. Unlike the US Open, Bjorn has been able to get some practice rounds in this week even though his place was not confirmed at The Open Championship. Memories of 2003 will of course be mentioned when he pretty much threw away the chance to win his first Major with a terrible double bogey with only holes to play with Ben Curtis stealing in to claim the Claret Jug. Stranger things have happened though and the fact that he wasn’t even in the tournament at the start of the week and with the ghosts of 2003 still lurking he could well be up for banishing these with a fantastic four round performance. His form has not been too bad but it would be a surprise if he managed to make amends for what happend 8 years ago.
Well, there it is! Plenty of options there and I’m sure there are plenty of players ye think will contend outside of these. I would look to Luke Donald to claim his first Major Championship this weekend, having come close at the Masters earlier in the year and also if he continues his superb putting form that was displayed at Castle Stuart. It would be great to see McIlroy win back to back Open Majors although the 4 week break is still something that is tough to look past. I expect Poulter to be in there along with Westwood, Jason Day, Stricker and Harrington but the current World No.1 should prove too good for all of them this week at Royal St George’s!
Odds correct as of 10.21pm via bestbetting.com. Keep in mind that certain firms are offering 8 places so keep this is mind although it has affected some of the prices they are offering. Enjoy the golf!