18 July, 2021

AUTHOR: James Dowen

STAR PREVIEW: The Open Championship 2021

It seems hard to believe, but we’re already at the fourth and final major of the year. I really like the new format of one major a month from April through to July and I hope the powers that be stick with it.

Shane Lowry finally has to bring back the claret jug after getting to hold it for an extra year due to Covid. The Open returns to Royal St. George’s – A par 70, 7,204 yard old school links test full of swails, humps and hollows. Jack Nicklaus famously once said of Royal St George’s: ‘It’s the only course where you can hit it down the middle of the fairway and lose your ball.’

According to some comments from the pros after their practice rounds this week, the rough is much thicker and lusher than would usually be the case for an Open Championship. That will make recovery from any cruel kicks or bounces all the more crucial. I have thrown the stats book out of the window to some extent for this tournament. For me, all my selections are about how well they play links courses and how well they putt, chip and scramble.

Everyone will be scrambling and having to improvise shots from tricky positions this week and some can definitely do it better than others.

Regarding the all-important weather. The forecast is dry for the four days with steady winds of around 20 kph. There might be slightly better conditions for players getting out early doors tomorrow, but overall it looks pretty fair to both sides of the draw for tee times.

The 149th Open Championship
Royal St. George’s Golf Course
Live on Sky Sports Main Event from 6:30am on Thursday

Marc Leishman – currently at ? with starsports.bet

Leishman grew up playing links courses such as Royal Melbourne in his native Australia. He’s familiar and comfortable with the layout of a proper links set up like this one. He is also adept at hitting shots with low ball flight if the wind gets up. Leishman finished second at the 2015 Open at St. Andrew’s and while his form hasn’t been spectacular this season, he did pick up a win with Cam Smith at the Zurich Challenge. I think his price is good value considering how much I think he will appreciate playing this course.

Patrick Reed – currently at ? with starsports.bet

Reed has some of the softest hands in the game around the green and that skill will be in high demand this week. He is inside the top ten on tour in strokes gained putting and his prodigious scrambling and chipping ability is well known. Reed finished tied tenth at Royal Portrush two years ago and if he is dialed in with his irons he has shown that he is well able to start firing darts at the pins repeatedly. I think Fat Pat could be a very hard man to stop on a course that shoud play to his strengths.

Cam Smith – currently at ? with starsports.bet

Mullet man is having his best ever year on the PGA Tour. His current ranking of 16th in the Fedex Cup is testament to a string of high leaderboard finishes and another PGA Tour win this season. I have always been a big proponent of Smith’s game and two of his biggest strengths are putting and chipping. He is another player that has played plenty of links tracks growing up in Australia and his deft touch around the greens will stand him in very good stead here. If Smith gets the breaks of the tee’s and gets hot with the putter he’ll be right in the mix.

Sam Burns – currently at ? with starsports.bet

Burns is a bit of a value play for me here. He finished well at last week’s Scottish Open with a five under par final round to take a share of eighteenth position. I believe this young man has got bags of ability and is a little overpriced here. He secured his first PGA Tour win this year and while he may not be too familiar with links style golf, last week’s result shows me that he’s a quick learner and should benefit from that turn out, along with his preparation time this week. Burns can send it a country mile, but importantly he is also no mug with the putter. He has been ranked inside the top ten in strokes gained putting for much of this season and has only fallen into the top thirty due to not playing too much lately. I think he’s great each way value.

Bernd Wiesberger – currently at ? with starsports.bet

Hi, my name’s Craig and I’m addicted to a small Austrian man named Bernd Wiesberger. Sometimes you get invested in a player and you invest so much into him that you become scared to death that you will miss him win at big odds the minute you get off him, which would be a fate worse than death. So you stay on him, convincing yourself that this is the week and these are the conditions for him. This is the week for eight times European tour champion Bernd Wiesberger. I have absolutely no proof to back up my claims, apart from some decent Scottish Open form for the past two years. *CAUTION: I am suffering from Wiesberger hysteria at this stage.

BACK Marc Leishman 0.5pt each/way at 60/1 (Latest Star Price ? Click to BET NOW)
BACK Patrick Reed 0.5pt each/way at 35/1 (Latest Star Price ? Click to BET NOW)
BACK Cam Smith 0.5pt each/way at 66/1 (Latest Star Price ? Click to BET NOW)
BACK Sam Burns 0.5pt each/way at 110/1 (Latest Star Price ? Click to BET NOW)
BACK Bernd Wiesberger 0.5pt each/way at 125/1 (Latest Star Price ? Click to BET NOW)

Each way 1/5 odds, 8 places

PROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 1 2017: LOSS -12.59 points