2014 Open Championship: Hoylake Preview
Next week see’s the start of the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool so here’s our preview of the ‘Merseyside Major’.
We’ve also got a mega enhanced offer of paying down to eight places, YOU can get that offer at:
After Roberto De Vicenzo‘s win at the 96th Open Championship it took 39 years for the world’s oldest major to return to Royal Liverpool but we’re back again after last seeing the course in 2006.
Tiger Woods famously won that Open without taking the driver out of his bag, using accurate iron play to manoeuvre his way to a -18 winning total, two ahead of Chris Dimarco.
Following yet another spell out of the game recovering from injuries Tiger recently returned to action and he’ll be back at Royal Liverpool this year, but as a back price of 23.0 suggests, he is not the same beast these days.
And, beyond a weakened Tiger, there are other reasons to expect a very different tournament this time round on Merseyside.
Hoylake, as the course is better known, is a classic out-and-in seaside links whose main defences will be wild rough, deep pot bunkers and winds whipping in off the Irish Sea.
In 2006, the British Isles were basking under one of the hottest, driest summers on record and the scorched course was open to low scoring. But while it’s been a warm summer with dry spells there’s been enough rain to make for thicker rough and it’ll be a surprise if any player reaches Woods’ impressive winning score.
Moreover, no player is dominating the game like Woods was eight years ago. The betting pays testament to that with Rory McIlroy, winless this year, the current shortest price at 15.0. Adam Scott 19.0, runner-up in the 2012 Open and third last year, has won this year (the Crowne Plaza Invitational) and his challenge should perhaps be stronger.
Henrik Stenson 18.0 has a Rory-esque record in 2014 – he has come close but failed to land a tournament win. Martin Kaymer 22.0 has won a big one – dominating at the US Open – but form since has been up and down.
Of the two dominant players of the generation – Tiger and Phil Mickelson – Woods is 23.0 to repeat his Hoylake win but flopped on his return at the Quicken Loans National and must be one for speculative punts; his great rival, the 2013 champion, has yet to finish in the top 10 this year (prior to this weekend’s Scottish Open) and is way out at 30.0 to back.
So if you’re looking for a successful bet in the winner market you may have to look beyond the favourites and get your head in the form book. Here, we give you a few angles and considerations with value in mind.
Beyond trying to find the 2014 Open winner there are countless ways of profiting from the tournament: Hole In One,Top Five Finish, Victory Margin, Virgin Major Winner,Woods to Play.
There will be many more landing over the coming days including Nationality Betting, Top 10/20 Finish and Three- and Two-Ball markets for every day of the action.
Suggested Value Bets….
For all the tempting each-way options at much bigger odds, the very best value may lie in backing one of the market leaders. Class well and truly told in the 2006 Open at Hoylake, both in terms of champion Tiger Woods and the elite characters that chased him home.
Just as it was hard to see the likes of Ernie Els out of the frame then, so it is with world number two Henrik Stenson now. It is impossible to pick holes in his case.
Runner-up last year and twice previously third, he has the right skills-set for this nuanced major and the critical emphasis on driving accuracy at Hoylake bodes particularly well. Considering that, in addition to that tournament record, he’s finished top-seven on his last four starts, these four to one place odds about a top-eight finish are huge.
Rory McIlroy’s record breaking first round at the Scottish Open has seen him surge to Open Championship favouritism, but Martin Kaymer is available at twice the price of McIlroy despite having won this season’s Players Championship and US Open.
Kaymer’s recent preparation for the Open has also been impressive, he finished 12th at the Open de France last week despite a disastrous start. Finally, the German’s low ball flight suits the unique test of links golf; he has an excellent record on similar courses, including having both won (2010) and been runner-up (2008) at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The Great Dane is the loyal servant of the European Tour and has always his best stuff for the only major played outside of the US with two runners-up spots in his Open CV.
Furthermore, the 41-year-old arrives at Hoylake on the back of yet another stellar year that began with a win at the Nedbank Challenge and has yielded five more top-10 finishes. Few are better equipped to deal with the links challenge better than Bjorn and I’m delighted to have him onside at 55-1.
Although he’s having a poor season by his own stratospheric standards, with eight places on offer, Ernie Els looks a great each-way play for this year’s Open Championship at Hoylake.
He finished third behind Tiger Woods the last time the Championship was staged here in 2006, and being the event specialist he is, could easily improve significantly on his mediocre recent performances.
He’s won the event twice before, including as recently as 2011, and he’s finished inside the top-eight an incredible 13 times. With the last three winners all in their 40s, age is no barrier at this major and who’s to say the Big Easy can’t contend again in what will be his 25th appearance.
Brendon Todd will tee it up at Hoylake on Thursday on the back of a quite stunning run of form and although debutants don’t have a great record in the event, he’ll draw plenty of inspiration from fellow Americans Ben Curtis and Todd Hamilton.
Curtis was playing in the Championship for the very first time when he won in 2003 and Hamilton had only two missed cuts and a tied 45th under his belt when he claimed the Claret Jug ten years ago.
With eight places on offer this week, Todd looks well worth a play – he’s finished inside the top-8 in five of his last six starts and the only time he failed was at the US Open, where he didn’t handle playing in the final group on Saturday well.
He’ll have learned from the experience though and should he get in-the-mix again this week I expect an altogether better effort.
It’s been a slightly surreal month for Jamie Donaldson, with a two-shot penalty for playing Hunter Mahan’s ball in round two of the US Open and then his decision to play from the drop zone at the Alstrom Open de France after hitting a water hazard, even though he could have played from where the ball laid in a muddy bank.
Those unfortunate incidents aside, it’s been an encouraging build-up to The Open for the links-loving Welshman, with two top five places in succession, in Paris and at the BMW International.
And it’s not a flash in the pan; Donaldson has been consistently good all season – at the time of writing, he is third in the Race to Dubai list and has not missed the cut at a European Tour event all year – and he looks in good shape to make his first proper attack at The Open.
When it comes to the majors, I’m of course looking at ability and track record but one thing stands out above all else for me – bottle. Miguel Angel Jimenez has the biggest cojones in golf, he has bags of experience to go with it and he loves links play.
Not only that, but The Mechanic is in reasonable form also; he followed up a win just before Christmas in Hong Kong with victory in the Spanish Open in May.
He may not have won a major before, but this is a man who is improving all the time with age – 14 of his 21 wins on the tour have come since turning 40 – and he’s finished in the top 20 at The Open five times before so knows what it takes to get himself right up there.
Keep an eye out for that famous ponytail and cigar combination, because I think he’ll be in the mix come Sunday and with his experience I wouldn’t bet against the old bon viveur to finish among the leaders.
Time was when Oliver Fisher seemed destined to chase Rory McIlroy into the next generation and beyond. But sadly Fish has gone in the opposite direction.
With only one second-tier victory at the Czech Open on his CV, he even missed out on claiming a maiden PGA Tour card by bogeying the last in final qualifying in 2012.
However, he’s belatedly showing the green shoots of recovery and is one I’ve been following at massive prices for top-ten and top-five finishes this year.
Fisher has three top-tens to his name this term, a tie for ninth, sixth and runner-up to Thomas Aiken after a play-off for the Africa Open in February. Fish qualified for the US Open on merit and has now done likewise at his home event.
He will enjoy huge crowd support, hits it a mile and has finally found a putting stoke that can stand up under pressure, even in the major spotlight.
Got an opinion on this story, who are YOU backing for THE OPEN??…….