Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Open Championship 2013: Muirfield

The golf season's 3rd major is upon us this week, and the game's best pays a visit to Muirfield. Muirfield is said to be the home of where golf's rules were first enforced and it has hosted the Open to some great champions. Here's a look at the notable winners there in the last handful of decades:

2002 - Ernie Els (also the defending champion of the Open)
1992 - Nick Faldo
1987 - Nick Faldo
1980 - Tom Watson
1972 - Lee Trevino
1966 - Jack Nicklaus
1959 - Gary Player

There are no slouches on the list, and when Els won back in 2002 it became his 5th career major title. If we are to learn from history, it suggests that the victor this week will not be a no name, come out of nowhere type player; the winner will be a winner. Here's odds from Paddy Power:

Tiger Woods - 10/1
Phil Mickelson - 18/1
Justin Rose - 20/1
Adam Scott - 22/1
Graeme McDowell - 25/1
Rory McIlroy - 28/1
Ernie Els - 28/1
Lee Westwood - 30/1
Sergio Garcia - 30/1

Tiger has 14 career majors but he hasn't won one since the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines (aka the playoff against Rocco on one good leg). Phil won the Scottish Open last week and finally won a tournament on the European continent. Justin Rose is the most recent major winner with his victory at Merion weeks ago. Adam Scott won the Masters this year and nearly took the Open crown last year before a collapse at the end. Graeme McDowell has struggled with his game recently but the Northern Ireland native is familiar with the style of play required to win the Open and finished in a tie for fifth last year. Rory McIlroy is still young, 24, has two career major victories, but his Northern Ireland roots haven't propelled him to an Open Championship yet. Ernie Els, already mentioned, won last year and won the last Open held at Muirfield. Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia have come close to major victories before but have never been able to lock one up.

So who is my pick for this week? I know I have been preaching that previous major winners have had the greatest amount of success through the course's history, but I get the feeling that we won't be seeing a repeat major winner but rather a guy who will notch his first major victory and possibly the first of a few. Thorbjorn Olesen, 23 year old of Denmark, is my choice. He finished in a tie for ninth at last year's Open and managed to finish in a tie for sixth at this year's Masters so he has had recent major success. Odds placed on him are at 100/1 so it could be a profitable week for those placing their money on Olesen.

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