This week marks the 150th Open Championship, being played at St. Andrews. There is a special feeling heading into the event. It might be the presence of Tiger, fighting to make history again. It could be the fact that Jack is on the scene, after receiving a special honor from the city of St. Andrews. Or it could be the fact that the 150th Open is being played at St. Andrews – golf’s birthplace.
I had the chance to get across the pond years ago and play The Old Course. It is a special place, indeed. The town of St. Andrews is great. Part college town, part tourist attraction, 100% Scotland.
The views from the ground are underwhelming, to be frank. We made a huge mistake by not getting a caddie, and I can remember many shots where I had absolutely no idea where to hit it. But watching the lead up to the Open on the Golf Channel, the course looks incredible. It looks bigger than normal. The weather looks fantastic. Everything is set!
Everything is pointing toward the course being firm and fast this week. The winds are up, the sun has been shining. The expectation is that we will see quite a few drives over 400 yards. The ball is going to roll forever. Greens will be hard to hit and hold. The test will be hard.
My opinion is that we will not see a surprise winner this week. St. Andrews has given us a few winners from out of nowhere: John Daly in 1995, Louis Oosthuizen in 2010, Zach Johnson in 2015. I don’t think we will see that this week. I expect the winner of the 150th Open to be a name we all know well.
I fully expect to see the likes of Rory, Rahm, JT, Xander, Cameron Smith, Jordan, or Cantlay kissing The Claret Jug on Sunday. The firmness of the course will bring in some of the shorter hitters, allowing them to get distance that they are not used to seeing. But with that firmness comes a ton of unpredictability and bad breaks.
I think there will be an importance placed on having a complete game this week. The winner will need to be patient, focused, and use all of his skills to win. There are going to be bad breaks. It’s going to be very tough to stop the ball playing downwind, and we will see balls rolling through greens, into bunkers, and into trouble all week.
There is no question that this year’s Champion Golfer of the Year will be a complete player, and someone that has been through it all before. I like Rory. I’d love to see Tiger competing on Sunday. But The Champion Golfer of the Year will be Jon Rahm.