What a week we had at The John Deere Classic. Our selection of Jordan Spieth provided us with all the excitement you could ask for. Spieth birdied five of his final six holes, including a sand shot that went in on the 18th to get in a playoff with David Hearn and our other pick Zach Johnson. Everyone thought it was over on the fourth playoff hole but nerves got to David Hearn and he missed a putt to win from within five feet. The players all missed the fairway on the next playoff hole but Spieth was the only one to come up with a great shot. He went on to two putt for yet another outright winner and ink himself as the first teenager to win on the PGA Tour in over 81 years.
We move onto The 142nd Open Championship looking to make it 3 for 3 in the majors this season ( Adam Scott – The Maters and Justin Rose – The US Open). This years Open takes place in the beautiful country of Scotland at Muirfield. The last time the Open Championship was held at Muirfield was in 2002, when Ernie Els claimed his first Claret Jug. That Championship was decided by a thrilling four hole playoff and I can only hope for some of the same excitement in 2013. Lets take a closer look at the course that will challenge the world best this week.
Muirfield has been described by many people as the best links course in the Open rotation. It will force players to hit every links style shot you could imagine and is great test mentally. Muirfield will play this week as a Par 71 at 7245 yards, as it has undergone some changes to prepare for this Championship over the past few years. Some of the changes that were done to the course include building new bunkers, moving certain bunkers, narrowing approaches to greens, and extending greens. The course has also been lengthened to help protect against the long bombers.
One major aspect when it comes to links style golf is the weather, and more specifically the wind. The forecast for this week however shows fairly subtle winds (compared to what it could be). I do feel that the (thursday) – morning, and (friday) – afternoon tee times has the easier weather.
Though the weather is expected to tame for links style golf, the course will be extremely firm. A firm links golf course will make it difficult to get close to the pin and stay on the green for that matter. Players who hit the fairway will have to control their ball, as we have seen perfect shots continue to roll right into a fairway pot bunker.
The greens at Muirfield are extremely large and undulating. They will test the players to lag the putts close from long distance, but also will challenge them to roll in the short ones. Expect the greens to be extremely quick for links style golf, and a topic of conversation all week.
We have 156 players all vying for the prized Claret Jug. Ernie Els is the defending Champion at Muirfield from 2002, but also the defending Open Champion. He will get plenty of attention this week but the world will be focused on three players.
Tiger Woods is always the biggest draw when he is in a tournament, and to an even larger extent in a major. He enters this week without a major Championship victory since the 2008 United States Open. Much attention will also surround his injured elbow, as he hasn’t competed since the US Open. Tiger finished T28 here in 2002, a tournament that included an awful third round 81.
Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson are the other two golfers who will receive plenty of attention. The two are actually paired together for the first 2 rounds, a pairing I am not sure will benefit them. Both players are known for their erratic play and if things start going poorly, it could be a long day. Mickelson does have the benefit of at least knowing he is playing very well, as he enters on the heels of a victory at the Scottish Open. Rory has not played well at all as of late, with his best finish in his past four tournaments being a T41 (he also has two missed cuts over this stretch).
These are not the only players though that will have story lines surrounding them this week. We will see how Justin Rose follows up his first major Championship victory. It will be interesting how Adam Scott plays this week, having come so close to the Claret Jug last year and then going on to win the 2013 Masters. We will also watch to see which one of the talented Englishman without a major victory (Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald) will follow in Justin Rose’s footsteps. Another great storyline will be whether or not a hometown Scot can ride the support to a Championship.
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Enjoy the 142nd Open Championship everyone.