The Old Course, St Andrews Links, Fife, Scotland
7,305 yards Par 72
The Open Championship takes place at The Old Course for the 28th time with the most recent editions taking place in 2005 and 2010. St Andrews is one of the oldest courses in the world and believed to be the home of golf because the game was first played there in the 15th century. It has two par 5’s, two par 3’s and 14 par 4’s. The par 5’s measure 568 yards (5th) and 618 yards (14th) and could be drivable in two depending on weather conditions. Some of the par 4’s could also be drivable namely the 352 yard 9th and the 348 yard 12th, which will also depend on wind and weather conditions.
This course also features a variety of typical links features with wide fairways, some of them are shared double fairways with plenty of deep grass and gorse bushes which run alongside them. Players that are long and straight off the tee will have a big advantage here.
One of the unique features of the Old Course is the large double greens. Seven greens are shared by two holes each, the 2nd paired with 16th, 3rd with 15th, all the way up to 8th and 10th. Only the 1st, 9th, 17th and 18th holes have their own greens. The Swilcan Bridge, spanning the first and 18th holes, has become a famous icon for golf around the world.
The Old Course has 112 bunkers, which will be its main defence and are all individually named and have their own unique story and history behind them. The two most famous are the 10 ft deep “Hell Bunker” on the 14th hole, and the “Road Hole Bunker” on the 17th hole. Countless professional golfers have seen their dreams of winning the Open Championship squandered by hitting their balls in those bunkers.
This course is favourable for punters having a bet on this tournament as there is plenty pf course history to work with. The Alfred Dunhill Links is played here every year on The European Tour so previous form at that event will be worth checking. Similar to The US Open at Chambers Bay, landing your ball in the right part of the greens will be important here as the greens are large, undulating and unpredictable in terms of bounces. Players that are good long distance putters should also have an advantage here.
The main areas of focus here are:
- Previous form in 2005,2010, previous Open
- Previous form at The Alfred Dunhill Links
- Recent form and links form
- Driving Distance/Accuracy
- Strokes gained putting
- Strokes gained tee to green
- Approaches from 100-250 yards
Rickie Fowler 18/1
Rickie was outstanding in Gullane last week at The Scottish Open. He played a fabulous approach shot into 18 and rolled in the birdie to clinch victory by one stroke over fellow American Matt Kuchar. Despite a poor performance in Chambers Bay, the young American has proven to be somewhat of a Links specialist over the last few years and has a solid Open Championship record.
His first appearance at The Open was here at St Andrews in 2010, where he finished in a respectable T14. He finished T5 in 2011 in Sandwich at a very tricky Royal St Georges and followed that with a respectable T31 at Lytham and St Annes. Last year in Hoylake, Fowler finished T2 with Sergio Garcia on 15 under in pretty tricky conditions in the final round, which didn’t seem to bother him. He also finished T8 last year in Royal Aberdeen at The Scottish Open.
Fowler also played well at The Irish Open recently, where he finished in a respectable T30. He started the tournament with two 71’s and had a poor third round 76 but bounced back with a 73 in round 4 in very tricky conditions. He has had a great season so far with a win at The Players, T9 at The WGC Matchplay and a respectable T12 at The Masters.
Statwise Rickie ranks 47th in driving distance, first in approaches from 200-225, fourth in approaches from 75-100 and second in approaches from 150-175. With a good record at The Open and a good performance here in the past, Rickie will be feeding off the good vibes from Gullane last week and should be right in the mix here at St Andrews.
Henrik Stenson 22/1
After an impressive solo second in Germany recently, Henrik Stenson looks to be peaking just at the right time in terms of form. He has played well at The Old Course in the past finishing T3 at The Open in 2010 finishing on eight under par for the tournament. His record in The Open has been good over the last few years finishing T3 in Royal Birkdale in 2008, T13 in Turnberry in 2009, T3 in St Andrews in 2010 and solo second in Muirfield in 2013. He seems to have recovered from an illness he got just before The Masters and has signs of coming back into some good form.
As well as his solo second in Germany, he also had a good week at The Nordea Masters finishing T13 and was right in the mix after shooting an opening round 65 in Chambers Bay, but sadly fell off the pace and finished a respectable T27. He showed some great early season form finishing T4 at the WGC Cadillac, solo fourth at The Valspar and solo second at The Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Statswise, Stenson could be a good fit here ranking seventh in driving accuracy, first in GIR, seventh in strokes gained tee to green and 15th in strokes gained putting. He also ranks seventh in approaches from 125-150, 16th in approaches from 200 yards, second in approaches from 175-200 and 13th in par 4 scoring. With a great record at The Open over the years and decent current form, Henrik Stenson looks to be a good bet here at The Old Course.
Louis Oosthuizen 22/1
Louis seems to be injury free and playing great golf at the moment. He started poorly in Chambers Bay shooting a disappointing 77 in round one but bounced back very well shooting 66,66,67 finishing T2 on four under for the tournament, which included five birdies in a row on the back nine on Sunday. Louis also played well at the WGC Matchplay finishing T5, T7 at The RBC Heritage and a T19 at The Masters.
He has a great record at St Andrews over the last few years. He won The Open here in 2010 by an impressive seven strokes over his nearest contender Lee Westwood and finished in a respectable T19 at Lytham and St Annes. He also has a great record at The Alfred Dunhill Links, which is also played at St Andrews, finishing T6 in 2014 and T5 in 2011.
Louis is averaging 295 yards off the tee ranking 41st in driving distance, 40th in GIR and 27th in strokes gained tee to green. He also ranks 19th in approaches from 175-200 yards, fifth in approaches from 200-225 and second in approaches from 50-75 yards. The South African has a lot of experience around this course and has already shown that he can contend in the majors so far this year.
Shane Lowry 45/1
After a great start last week in Gullane, opening with rounds of 66,66 in rounds one and two, Lowry fell off the pace shooting 72,71 over the weekend to finish T31 for the tournament. Despite the average performance over the weekend, his game looks to be in great shape especially off the tee and around the greens. His first appearance in an Open Championship was here at St Andrews in 2010, where he finished in a respectable T37 for the tournament. Shane is no stranger to links golf and won The Irish Open in Baltray in 2009 as an amateur beating Robert Rock in a playoff. He has been improving steadily every year finishing T32nd in 2013 in Muirfield and recorded a top 10 at Hoylake last year finishing solo ninth. He also has great form at The Alfred Dunhill Links over the last few years finishing T6 last year and T3 in 2013 so he will be familiar with the layout of The Old Course.
Lowry has been showing some great form this season with a super performance at Chambers Bay at The US Open finishing T9 on level par for the tournament. He also had a good week at The BMW PGA in Wentworth finishing T6 on 11 under for the week. Shane has also played well on other links layouts over the last few years with three top 15’s in The Scottish Open since 2011 finishing T14 at Castle Stuart, T11 in 2012 again at Castle Stuart and T4 last year at Royal Aberdeen. Lowry also finished T10 at The Johnnie Walker at Gleneagles in 2013. With great form at St Andrews and great current form, Shane Lowry looks to be superb value at 45/1.
Branden Grace 45/1
With the exception of one erratic tee shot, Branden Grace could have been hoisting the US Open trophy up in the air on Sunday and not Jordan Spieth. He played steadily all week long opening with a 69 and following that with a 67,70,71 to finish T4 and three under par in total. The South African has been showing some solid form over the last few months. He finished T11 at The BMW PGA at Wentworth, T9 at The WGC Matchplay and T7 at The RBC Heritage.
His best finish at The Open Championship was last year in Hoylake, where he finished a respectable T36. Although his Open form isn’t exactly jumping off the page, Grace is no stranger to links golf and has played well here at The Old Course in the past.
He won the Alfred Dunhill Links here in 2012 by two strokes over Thorbjorn Olesen on 22 under par and also finished T25 last year so he is very familiar with this course. He also nearly won the Scottish Open in Castle Stuart in 2013, but was beaten by Phil Mickelson in a playoff and finished second. Statswise he ranks 18th in driving distance hitting an average of 300 yards off the tee. He also ranks fifth in GIR, ninth in putts per GIR and 10th in approaches from 150-175. After a near miss at The US Open, returning to The Old Course could see Branden stir up some good memories and get right into contention again.
Tommy Fleetwood 80/1
Tommy has been having a steady season so far with four top 11’s and two top 30’s in his last six starts. He was right in the mix last week at Gullane, but couldn’t quite get going in the final round shooting a final round 72 finishing T10 for the tournament. He also a good week at The BMW International in Germany recently finishing T11 and finished in a respectable T27 in Chambers Bay the week before. He also finished T21 at The Irish Open in Royal County Down, T6 at The BMW PGA Championship in Wentworth and T5 at The WGC Matchplay. Tommy has shown great form on links courses over the last few years, particularly at The Alfred Dunhill Links finishing T2 in 2014, solo fifth in 2013 and T5 in 2011. His only European Tour victory came at Gleneagles, where he won the Johnnie Walker Championship in a playoff against Stephen Gallacher and Ricardo Gonzalez.
Statswise Tommy is averaging just under 300 yards off the tee and ranks 27th in driving distance. He also ranks fifth in GIR hitting 73% of greens in regulation on The European Tour so far this season. He has a proven track record at The Old Course at St Andrews and could be a big contender here at a very generous price.
Final selections –
Rickie Fowler 18/1 2pts EW
Henrik Stenson 22/1 2pts EW
Louis Oosthuizen 22/1 1.5 pts EW
Shane Lowry 45/1 1 pt EW
Branden Grace 45/1 1 pt EW
Tommy Fleetwood 80/1 1pt EW
Total staked = 17 pts
Good luck and enjoy the golf,
Follow me on Twitter @Doublebogey63
Like me on Facebook www.facebook.com/doublebogey6