The best golfers in the world will tee it up in Turnberry, Scotland this Thursday at the British Open. The Open Championship as it is popularly called is the only major on the PGA Tour not played on U.S soil. However, the Open Championships offers one of the most historic spectacles in sports. The British Open dates back to 1860 making it one of the oldest and prestigious events in golf. The open links courses are known for the extremely deep bunkers and wide open layout. Turnberry has hosted 3 previous British Open Championships dating back to 1977. The Ailsa Course will be the sight of this year’s venue which measures at 7,204 yards on the par 70 course. The course has been rumored to not be as challenging in years past giving up two winning 72 hole scores at an impressive 12 under par by Tom Watson and Nick Price. However, this year the course has seen 21 additional bunkers and lengthened to make it difficult for the best golfers in the world. The question is who will be able to have their name inscribed on the Claret Jug given to the winner of every British Open?
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One of the PGA’s biggest names will not make the trip across seas for the 3rd major of the season. Phil Mickelson withdrew from the event as he will stay home with his wife who is battling breast cancer. However, the tour will host all the other top names in the sport fighting for one of the richest prizes in golf. Tiger Woods will of course be the big favorite to win his 4th Open Championship. Woods won his last event entered leading up to the British Open in the AT&T National. The win was Tiger’s 3rd victory of the season, but perhaps the most impressive. The reason it may have been more impressive than the final round 65 at the Memorial or the win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational is because Woods finally looked like he was finally getting his swing back. Tiger looked more in control of not only his drives, but mainly his irons in the AT&T National and that could be scary on a course that does not require the accuracy off the tee that most major championships require. Woods will be a huge 7/4 favorite to win the event and record his 15th major of his career.
One player who really performs well on the links courses is Padraig Harrington. Despite struggling throughout the season, Harrington has won the last two Open Championships. Harrington could become the first golfer since Peter Thomson (1954-56) to win 3 consecutive British Opens. However, Harrington has been anything but impressive this season missing 4 of the last 5 cuts. Still Harrington will be receiving 22/1 odds to win the event this season. Other players who could be a factor include Englishman Paul Casey, Kenny Perry, and perhaps youngster Rory McIlroy. Casey has played well all season and won earlier this season at the Shell Houston Open. Casey will sport 25/1 odds to win his first major this weekend. Perry has won twice this season including a runner-up finish at the Masters and will come into the event as 50/1 long shot. Also, the young 19 year old Rory McIlroy has played very solid over the last few weeks including a top 10 finish at the U.S Open. McIlroy has caught many people’s attention since he is so young, but exploding with talent. Surprisingly, McIlroy will be as big a favorite as any outside of Tiger to win the event holding at 22/1 odds.
One wily veteran will also likely be lurking around the top of the leader board this weekend. 54 year old Greg Norman is one of the best players in the world in the Open Events. Norman shocked many onlookers last year at the British Open finishing 3rd at 53 years young. Norman is no stranger to Scotland either considering he won the 2nd British Open played at Turnberry back in 1986. However, the line makers do not have near as much faith in Norman as we might consider placing him as a huge underdog at 250/1 odds. Considering how well Norman plays across seas, it may be worth a small bet. David Duvall is another long forgotten name that could take center stage this weekend. Duvall who nearly fell out of the sport following the peak of his career back in the late 90s, came out of nowhere to post a 2nd place runner-up finish at the U.S Open. Duval is always a threat when he is swinging the club well and is also a previous winner of the British Open. (2001) Duval is another veteran who will be another sizeable underdog receiving 100/1 betting odds. It would be a huge headline if one of these two players could emerge to take home the 2009 British Open, but winning at the Open Championship is a headline in itself.