The final major of the year is here as the players head to England for the Open Championship. Royal St. George’s host the Open for the 15th time as the second most times as host on the rota. The course is a par 70, playing around 7,200 yards.
RSG last hosted the Open in 2011 when Darren Clark came away with his only major championship. It also played host in 2003 when Ben Curtis also won his one and only major. The Open has a tendency to produce surprise winners and RSG has certainly been that way.
This course has been really tough the last two times it hosted the Open. There were only five total players between the two Opens that finished under par. I would expect it to play difficult again.
RSG is a coastal course that is extremely susceptible to wind. There are few days where the wind doesn’t blow and it can definitely get crazy windy. While the early reports suggest the course is a bit soft, there isn’t supposed to be any rain so it should dry out by the weekend.
RSG is a classic links-style course with big undulating greens, tight fairways with runoffs, and deep bunkers. The bunkers in 2011 were really tough tests and should be avoided at all costs.
Precision is the key, getting the ball in the right part of the fairway to attack the greens is a must. Then, on approach, finding the right areas of the green to avoid run-offs and impossible bunker shots is absolutely necessary.
In 2011, the top three finishers all finished in the top 10 in greens in regulation. SG: Approach will be a big indicator. Long hitter seemed to fare well also and I would think it could be an advantage so long as you aren’t in the fescue all week.
A stellar short game is probably going to be helpful as well this week. These greens are hard to hit, especially if it gets firm and fast. Players who can chip and putt it will be able to make up for the difficult approach misses.
This course will test every aspect but ultimately I think the best iron players and those players who can handle the mental grind of wind and weather and tough breaks will be in the hunt on Sunday morning.
Experience at the Open has shown to be almost necessary to win this so there will be a trend in my picks this week with that in mind.
2021 Open Championship Pick | Outrights
There are some stats that seem to hold true Open after Open. The winner almost always has really good form coming in and has probably won or had a top-five finish recently. Good form is a must.
Also, prior Open experience has shown itself to be necessary. 10 of the last 11 winners had played at least four Open Championships prior to their win. Another thing to consider is that nearly every winner in recent history has ranked in the top 40 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Brooks Koepka +1800
Brooks is just the best major championship player since Tiger and it isn’t close. Since 2017, he is about 60 shots better than the next golfer in just the majors. He has proven over and over again that he locks in and can finish these off.
He started his career on the European tour and has had success at the Open so he has all the experience necessary to win. He fits the course perfectly. He hits it long but is the ultimate grinder and knows how to avoid the big mistakes.
He won’t get bothered by the bad breaks that come at the Open and he will put himself in a position to win. He is also playing well with three top-fives in his last four starts. He is hitting his irons really well and you just can’t go wrong betting him in a major.
Paul Casey +3300
Casey doesn’t have the major championship win that I normally like to see but the Open has produced a lot of first time major winners and Casey fits the older, experienced player trend at the Open.
Casey’s form is tremendous this year. He has six top 10’s in his last 10 starts and has been hitting his irons beautifully. He has shown the ability to play difficult courses well, and this will be a tough test. He’s from England and should feel comfortable at St. George’s
Casey checks the boxes that most winners of the Open in recent history have. He also ranks top 10 in SG: Approach and consistently gains off the tee and around the green. As long as his putter shows up, he should be on the hunt.
Longshots I like: Marc Leishman +6000 & Sergio Garcia +7000
Patrick Reed +400
I love Reed when the courses get really tough. Reed is an exceptional short game player and has a terrific track record in majors. He is criminally underpriced typically and this is no different.
Reed is a proven winner and can definitely win this major. His short game alone could win it for him if he gets just keep it in play off the tee. His irons have come around recently and his ceiling on approach is plenty good enough.
He has six top 25’s in his last nine starts and has four top 30’s in his last five open starts. I think this course may fit him as well as any on the Open rota because it demands grinders and precision and a short game. He is flush with all those and is always a threat.
Longshot top 10: Ian Poulter +600
Sergio Garcia +150
I love Sergio this week. He is awesome tee to green and knows how to play this type of golf course. His Open track record is awesome with a ton of top 20 finishes. He is playing some really nice golf right now too.
Garcia has three straight top 20’s heading into this event and is one of the premier drivers of the ball on tour. He should get in good positions to attack when possible and leave himself some easy pars.
Garcia’s short game and putting tend to be average but he should be comfortable with all his links experience and his iron play should help. Garcia seems to always show up at the Open and I fully expect to see him as another older, experienced player contending for the win.
Ian Poulter +350
This is a play purely on experience, short game, and grit. Poulter is an awesome putter and short game player who has the ability to gain tee to green as well. He also has a nice record in Europe and at the Open.
Poulter hasn’t done a ton recently but did play well at the Scottish Open last week. However, he has the track record I want for this week and has the style of game that should play well here. He can grind out a hard course and make enough putts to keep himself in it.
Longshot top 20: Lucas Herbert +550 & Bernd Weisberger +550
Patrick Cantlay -110 over Bryson DeChambeau
I am a full fade of Bryson this week. I just don’t see the fit for him here not to mention all the off the course distractions. He just fired his caddie and is dealing with all kinds of questions about Brooks and not yelling fore when he bombs them into the crowd.
Bryson isn’t a precision player. This course demands that you hit it to certain spots to succeed and that just isn’t something Bryson does. He bombs it and then hits wedges when he wins. He isn’t the best iron player either so he will have some interest around the green shots.
The other thing I don’t love is that Bryson doesn’t handle the bad breaks well. He makes excuses and complains when he gets bad lies or bounces and the Open is unrelenting when it comes to that. He doesn’t have the mindset I am looking for.
On the other hand, Cantlay is the type of player I am looking for. He plays well in the wind and has the calm demeanor I’d like to see this week. Cantlay has been pretty solid at the Open and he is playing pretty well with three straight top 15’s coming in.
I just like what Cantlay brings to the table with his all-around game and Bryson just doesn’t make sense here.
MacIntyre is a rising star on the European Tour and has started to show his name to the American public. I love his fit for this course and his form coming in.
MacIntyre bombs it and has a nice short game to go with it. He has five straight made cuts coming in with two top 20’s. He has the experience I like in Europe and he showed he can compete in majors with a 6th place finish in his first Open last time.
He also finished in the top 15 at the Masters so he has the confidence and ability to compete in these fields and courses. He is +250 to finish in the top 20 and +165 for a top 30 finish.