The 2021 Open Championship
Royal St George’s, Sandwich, Kent
All 4 days dwell on Sky Sports
Had it not been for the Coronavirus pandemic, we might be wanting ahead to the one hundred and fiftieth version of the Open Championship in the summertime – staged at St Andrews – however after the match was misplaced this yr, the 2021 renewal would be the 149th version and we’re off to Royal St George’s in Kent, which might have been the venue in 2020.
With the opposite three majors being squeezed into the schedule late on in 2020, the Open Championship was the one one to not be staged this yr so Shane Lowry, who gained the occasion at Portrush in 2019, is the defending champion.
Royal St George’s has a particularly wealthy Open Championship historical past and it has been an important venue for well-known a number of main championship winners.
More than 100 years in the past, Harry Vardon gained the third and the fifth of his six Open titles at Royal St George’s, Walter Hagen gained the primary and third of his 4 titles right here, and Henry Cotton gained the primary of his three victories right here in 1934. Bobby Locke would take the title three extra occasions after he’d gained right here in 1949, Tony Jacklin gained right here in 1969, a yr earlier than he gained the US Open, Gary Player gained his third Open and the eighth of his 9 majors right here in 1974, Sandy Lyle gained the Open right here in 1985, three years earlier than he gained the US Masters, and Greg Norman gained the second of his two Open titles right here in 1993.
Put merely, the cream typically rises to the highest right here, however the final two winners have been exhausting to identify…
Ben Curtis induced one of many greatest sporting shocks ever when he gained the Open Championship right here in 2003, having certified courtesy of his thirteenth place-finish within the Western Open two weeks earlier. That was his best-ever end as a professional and on the age of 26 he was the primary participant to win the primary main he’d performed in since Francis Ouimet gained the US Open in 1913!
At 42 and enjoying in his twentieth Open Championship, the 2011 winner at Royal St George’s, Darren Clarke, contrasted starkly with Curtis, however he too was very a lot a shock winner given he was matched at in extra of 300.0299/1 earlier than the off.
Outsiders have a good document within the Open and final yr’s winner, Shane Lowry, was matched at a excessive of 140.0139/1 earlier than the off so given the final two outcomes right here, do not be afraid to again an outsider however they might must have completed contained in the top-ten at an Open Championship beforehand.
Looking again, ten of the final 11 winners have completed contained in the top-ten beforehand and given they play a lot golf on a hyperlinks course, the house contingency has a good document too. As many as six of the top-nine final yr have been both English, Irish or Scottish.
If the final two renewals at Royal St George’s are something to go by, Greens In Regulation goes to be a key stat in July. Curtis solely ranked sixteenth however Thomas Bjorn, who threw the title away when he took three makes an attempt to extricate himself from the greenside bunker on the sixteenth on Sunday, ranked first and the person alongside him in a tie for second, crushed by only a stroke, Vijay Singh, ranked tied for third for GIR. As did Davis Love III who completed tied for fourth.
In 2011, Darren Clarke ranked second for GIR and the 2 Americans to completed tied for second, who each appeared like profitable at varied phases in spherical 4, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, ranked third and sixth. The man who topped the GIR stats in 2011 was Davis Love III, who completed ninth.
Given Americans have fared so effectively at Royal St George’s, Dustin Johnson shall be on many individuals’s shortlists. He traded at odds-on earlier than he drove out of bounds on the par 5 14th to document a double-bogey seven in 2011 however he hasn’t figured in an Open Championship since ending forty ninth at St Andrews in 2015, having led by a stroke at midway. The large query now, after his facile victory at Augusta in November, is how is he going to reply to bagging his second main championship?
DJ has at all times appeared like he might win an Open with ease so at a venue he is already proven he likes, he is a very worthy favorite however I’m pleased to go away him alone for now at round 10/1. He’d must play actually properly all through the primary six months of 2021 for that value to look large. He’s the one I like finest in direction of the pinnacle of the market however I’m pleased to go away him out for now and tuck away a few small bets on a pair of outsiders…
Darren Clarke profitable right here, simply when his likelihood to bag a serious appeared to have gone, would possibly simply encourage his large mate, Lee Westwood, and I used to be pleased to take the industry-best 100/1 accessible with the Sportsbook.
Westwood has at all times been a wonderful hyperlinks participant and he is contended in a variety of Open Championships however he is but to win a serious. If you consider in fairy tales, and Clarke has proven that they do often come true, Westwood is the sentimental play that will simply come good.
My solely different guess is on Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who I’ve additionally backed to win the US Open. The world quantity 34 is a superb value at an industry-best 200/1 with the Sportsbook given he is gained 3 times on the European Tour and he has the standard to win a serious. He missed the lower at Portrush final yr, in his solely earlier Open Championship, and he would not have an abundance of hyperlinks kind, however he is completed runner-up in each the Qatar Masters and the Dubai Desert Classic – two occasions that correlate properly with hyperlinks occasions – and if he performs something like he did on the finish of 2020 within the early a part of 2021, 200/1 goes to look large come July.
I’ll be again subsequent week with my Sentry Tournament of Champions preview.
*You can observe me on Twitter @SteveThePunter