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EXPERT TIPS: THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW

The final golf major of the season sees Hoylake host the Open Championship 2023. Cameron Smith looks to defend his crown, Rory McIlroy hopes to end his drought at the course where he won his last major and Scottie Scheffler aims to put to bed the curse of the world’s top-ranked player. This shapes as a fascinating tournament featuring the best players on the planet.

ROYAL LIVERPOOL AT HOYLAKE – COURSE OVERVIEW

Royal Liverpool, also known as Hoylake, is one of the oldest links courses in England. It has hosted 12 Open Championships and lists among its winners Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen. The venue has been used just twice since 1967 with Woods and McIlroy both posting scores of -17 or better in their win.

It is a course that has seen extensive renovation work since hosting in 2014 but remains relatively short. It does have a lot of out-of-bounds zones though, so accuracy is critical from the tee. When Woods won he used his driver just once. A strong approach game is usually beneficial and it certainly is important here, but historically putting well and scrambling at an elite level are key. Taking advantage of the Par 5s is also critical. The defence of the course will very much be dictated by conditions, with warm weather and wind pivotal to keeping scoring down.

Key Course Parameters

  • Par 5 Scoring
  • Birdie Average
  • Bogey Avoidance
  • Three-Putt Avoidance
  • Total Driving
  • Strokes Gained: Off The Tee
  • GIR
  • Strokes Gained: Approach
  • Proximity: 200+ Yards
  • Scrambling
  • Sand Saves
  • Putting Average
  • Strokes Gained: Putting

Key Lead-up Tournaments

  • Scottish Open
  • Alfred Dunhill Links
  • Players Championship
  • Phoenix Open
  • DP World Tour Championship

COURSE FITS

Rory McIlroy – Dominant winner the last time the Open Championship was staged here and his links credentials were further rubber-stamped last weekend in Scotland.

Scottie Scheffler – World no. 1 who is in a league of his own from tee to green, ranking first in Strokes Gained: Off The Tee, Strokes Gained: Approach, GIR and Bogey Avoidance.

Patrick Cantlay – Leads the PGA Tour in Total Driving and Par 5 Scoring while ranking fourth in Strokes Gained: Off The Tee.

Talor Gooch – Airborne on the LIV Tour where he ranks second in Strokes Gained: Approach, third in Scrambling and sixth in Birdie Average, with all his form coming outside the US.

Best Bets

BEST BET: BACK – Brooks Koepka – Winner at $15.00+

The price around Koepka is just too big. He has had a remarkable year, winning the PGA Championship and leading The Masters after three rounds. With his major record he should be in the McIlroy/Scheffler/Rahm tier. He has four Top 10s in his last six Opens and his LIV stats are exceptional. With 11 Top 2 finishes in majors since 2017, Koepka shows up on the big stage and can be bet to do so again,

NEXT BEST: BACK – Tyrrell Hatton – Winner at $21.00+

There are few better links golfers on the planet than volatile Englishman Tyrrell Hatton. He has twice won the Alfred Dunhill Links and his record there as well as the Open Championship and Scottish Open is outstanding. He also has a wonderful record in desert golf and the Players – both two key guides to performance here. An elite putter, he is right in this.

VALUE BET: BACK – Tony Finau – Winner at $34.00+

Tony Finau is not the most reliable of players – at least that is his reputation – but he has won four times on the PGA Tour in the last 12 months. He has a stellar Open record with six starts for a worst finish of T-28. In his last 22 majors, Finau has nine Top 10 finishes and a further seven Top 40s. He is overs.

BEST BET: LAY – Tommy Fleetwood – Winner at < $51.00

There would be no bigger fairytale than Tommy Fleetwood winning his hometown Open. Fleetwood is the most popular English golfer and one of the most popular players on the planet. While he is an outstanding links player in excellent form, he just does not win. He has not won a major. He has not won on the PGA Tour. He is far too short.

BEST IN-PLAY TRADE: BACK-TO-LAY – Xander Schauffele – Winner at $26.00+

Schauffele fits the profile of a great back-to-lay player. He is a very fast starter, ranking fourth in this field in Strokes Gained in the opening round. He is also a non-winner who has not saluted in over 12 months and has contended in plenty of majors without getting over the line.

BEST PROP: BACK – Brandon Grace – Top South African Player at $3.00+

Grace has rediscovered some of his best form on the LIV circuit this year and looks great value to be top South African this week. He has a nice record at the Open, he is a quality wind player and he ranks Top 3 in Bogey Avoidance in LIV this year.

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