2022 British Open: Punch Shot: Who wins The Open? How would you bet 50 pounds?
The 150th Open Championship concludes on Sunday on the Old Course. GolfChannel.com writers weigh in from on site with their predictions.
Who wins in St. Andrews?
Rex Hoggard: Xander Schauffele. Winning the week before a major is not always the best tune-up and his lack of experience on the Old Course is noteworthy, but Schauffele is enjoying an under-the-radar week and his play at the Scottish Open on the links-adjacent Renaissance Club was impossible to ignore.
Ryan Lavner: Jordan Spieth. No one has a better scoring average at The Open since 2015 than Spieth (69.1), who arrives to St. Andrews looking to avenge A) his close call last year at Royal St. George’s; B) his near-miss at the Old Course the last time it was held here, when he was on the verge of capturing the third leg of the Slam; and C) his final-round stumble at the Scottish Open, where he had a chance to win before a late double bogey. His added length will allow his creativity and imagination from inside 100 yards to shine in what will become a test of precision from the baked-out fairways.
Mercer Baggs: Rory McIlroy. Everything says, Don’t do this. Expectations are high, he hasn’t won a major in eight years, he’s repeatedly torpedoed himself when in major contention. This should also apply the kind of pressure he’s felt at Augusta National and Royal Portrush. So why pick him? Heart over head, I guess. There is no reason McIlroy shouldn’t dominate the Old Course and there would be no better player (Tiger Woods aside) holding the claret jug here on Sunday night.
Who comes close, but falls short?
Rex Hoggard: Rory McIlroy. An Open at St. Andrews is the “holy grail” for McIlroy and the combination of past performances on the Old Course and current form makes the Northern Irishman an easy choice, but at this year’s majors he’s been just a beat off. Whether it was opening rounds of 73 at the Masters, a third-round 74 at the PGA Championship or a Saturday 73 at the U.S. Open, McIlroy has been missing a piece of the major puzzle.
Ryan Lavner: Rory McIlroy. In his pre-tournament presser McIlroy called winning a St. Andrews Open the “holy grail,” and already his detractors are using it as proof that he’ll psych himself out of another major. It’s hard to imagine. McIlroy is playing some of the best golf of his life, he’s developed into a top-10 putter on Tour (which will help on the massive, slow greens where lag putting will be paramount), and he’s been in the mix in each of the year’s first three majors, to varying degrees. His only concern – besides, apparently, wanting it too much – is his short-iron play in the crosswinds.
Mercer Baggs: Hideki Matsuyama. He hasn’t had a great Open record and he missed the cut last week at the Scottish Open. Again, it appears my prognostications are ill-advised. Matsuyama, however, feels like a guy who is going to win multiple majors and do so at the most famed venues. Picking him to come close this week, but it doesn’t take much to see him prevailing.
Rex Hoggard: Jon Rahm. This is probably an unrealistic-expectations issue, but following Rahm’s finish to the Grand Slam season last year (a victory at the U.S. Open and a tie for third at The Open), he appeared poised to become a regular major contender. Instead, in this year’s first three majors, he finished T-27 (Masters), T-48 (PGA) and T-12 (U.S. Open) and he struggled last week at the Scottish Open (T-55).
Ryan Lavner: Justin Thomas. It doesn’t make much sense, for his shot-making ability and links golf should be a perfect fit. That just hasn’t been the case so far in his career. Never has he finished inside the top 10 in an Open, and he’s coming off an eyebrow-raising performance at the Scottish, where he shot 10 over to miss the cut. We just want to see it first before jumping aboard the JT bandwagon.
Mercer Baggs: Matt Fitzpatrick. The U.S. Open champion doesn’t have a great Open record (one top-25 in six prior starts) and admitted this week that he much prefers tree-lined courses. He also has to play among the Tiger circus for two days. Could be a long (maybe short) week for the Englishman.
Rex Hoggard: 18 under. This is entirely dependent on the weather and the forecast is not favorable for those who fear what modern equipment and bigger-stronger-faster athletes can do to the venerable Old Course. Winds in the 10-15 mph range on Thursday are followed by dry conditions and gusts that “look unlikely to be particularly strong,” over the weekend. This could get ugly.
Ryan Lavner: 15 under. Forecasts are fickle in this part of the world, but it doesn’t look like weather will be much of a factor in this one: mostly dry, mostly sunny and mostly warmish, with only a wee breeze (20 mph) anticipated a few of the rounds. That’ll continue to roast the already brown fairways, and the receptive greens that players encountered during the practice rounds will get increasingly firm and fiery by the weekend. That’ll help keep scoring in the mid-teens, as it’s been the last four editions here.
Mercer Baggs: 18 under. Three men have reached 20 under par through 72 holes of a major. We in the media center have heard predictions of someone breaking that mark, but baked-out links golf is just quirky enough and trying to win an Open at St. Andrews is just tough enough, to keep the final score just under the record.
How would you bet £50?
Rex Hoggard: Schauffele at 14-to-1 would be the obvious bet here (5 pounds each way), but where’s the value? Instead, we’ll take Seamus Power (66-to-1), Gary Woodland (90-to-1), Adrian Meronk (150-to-1) and Sahith Theegala (150-to-1) at 10 pounds each.
Ryan Lavner: 20 pounds on Spieth (16-1), 10 pounds on Will Zalatoris (25-1), 10 pounds on Tommy Fleetwood (33-1), 5 pounds on Tony Finau (40-1), 5 pounds on Joo-Hyung Kim (125-1). Hey, we’re spreading the wealth! Picked Spieth to win. Believe Zalatoris will once again play his way into the mix for an each-way bet. Expect Fleetwood to keep #trending, as he has over the past few months. And think Finau, who has three consecutive top-15s in the Open, and Kim, who finished third last week at the Scottish and has cracked the top 40 in the world, are decent long shots.
Mercer Baggs: If you’re going to bet, bet to win big. I’m not spreading around my money for a chance to win a few pounds here or there. Matsuyama is 40-1. I’ll take that for a chance to win 2,000 pounds.