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I enjoy this week more than any other on the PGA TOUR. The contrast in climate, style of play, course design differences, and unpredictability of the weather all attract my attention. Ever since I was a kid, I would get up as early as possible to watch live coverage. In honor of the Open Championship, every free subscriber to Read The Line will receive the premium member newsletter. Enjoy the extra coverage for the season's final major championship.
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Congratulations to Linn Grant for winning her first LPGA tournament the Dana Open by three strokes and becoming our ninth winner of 2023.
That's six wins in the past 11 weeks for Read The Line.
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I enjoy this week more than any other on the PGA TOUR. The contrast in climate, style of play, course design differences, and unpredictability of the weather all attract my attention. Ever since I was a kid, I would get up as early as possible to watch live coverage of the Open Championship.
The 151st Open Championship will be contested at Royal Liverpool Golf Club. Set in the seaside town of Liverpool, the club is hosting its thirteenth Open. Royal Liverpool set in the small town of Hoylake, isn't a part of the full rotation for the championship. Prior to hosting in 2006, Royal Liverpool had not seen the Open since 1967. When Tiger wins (2006), the world watches and suddenly we are back to seeing that classic Hoylake Harry Potter clubhouse every decade or so.
The course was a par 72 in 2014 when the last Open took place here. We all remember Rory McIlroy torching the landscape with his driver and taking home the Claret Jug. Nine years later, Rory remains the man to beat, but the course has witnessed a couple of significant changes. The scorecard now reads par 71. The tenth hole is a par 4 (was a par 5) and the seventeenth hole is a brand-new par 3. All of this adds up to an attempt at keeping the world's best players in check for our oldest major championship.
Many of the media asked a year ago if St. Andrews was still fit to host an Open. Players ravaged the firm and fast landscape with driver, wedge, and putter. What a difference a year makes. St. Andrew’s design is famous for wide fairways and huge double green complexes. Royal Liverpool is quite the opposite. The fairways are framed in knee high fescue. The green complexes are about half the size of St. Andrews. Accuracy is a premium skill at Hoylake as proven by the last two winners.
Tiger famously won in 2006 by hitting one driver in 72-holes. England was hot and the turf conditions were extremely fast. Woods hit 86% of the fairways and 81% of his GIRs! Rory showed similar skill in wet conditions eight years later. The 2014 edition played very soft and eerily similar to what we expect from Royal Liverpool this year. Fresh off his birdie-birdie finish to win the Scottish Open, McIlroy has launched himself to the top of the betting board alongside Scottie Scheffler.
The field of 156 players will be competing for the game's oldest trophy. Set on the Irish Sea, Royal Liverpool stretches 7,383 yards. The course needs weather to control scoring. If we don't see the wind and rain continue this week, it may turn into a major birdiefest. Approximately and inch of rain is predicted to fall before Thursday. During the tournament, another .75" of rain is in the forecast. Although the temperatures will be in the low 60s, these guys will relish the receptive ground conditions.
As the storyline builds this week, the best ball strikers are about to take center stage. Fresh off seven straight top 5 finishes, can Scottie Scheffler close out with a win? The number one ranked player hasn't won the Open since Tiger in 2006. Will Rory break his nine-year major championship win drought? Eight of the last ten winners have played the week before the Open. Is Brooks capable of taking that killer mentality across the Atlantic, or will Schauffele, Cantlay, Hovland, etc. finally break through?
Six of the last ten Open Championship winners have been inside the top 10 of the OWGR. All ten from the past decade have been inside the top 40. Since 2000, 16 of the 22 Open winners secured a victory earlier in the season. Recent form has always played a huge role in determining the winner of this major championship. Not many would complain if Scottie or Rory won, they certainly deserve it. As I went through the course and conditions, I believe there are a couple others with a better chance for the Claret Jug.
The Open starts in...
What I love most about the test at Royal Liverpool is the careful balance between power and precision. Take for example Tiger who took firm conditions and chose not to use driver. Eight years later, Rory led the field in driving distance (328 yards) in route to winning. Links golf can provide such a wide variety of playing conditions. Based upon what we expect this week from Mother Nature I'm all in on the following skill set.
The winner will have a very strong week off the tee. Hoylake presents a couple of challenges unique to the major championship landscape. Fourteen fairways are lined with knee high fescue grass. With soft conditions, those amber waves of grain will be a huge problem. Looking at the course, most fescue sits approximately three to five yards from the edge of the fairway. Accuracy off the tee is priority number one.
As if the fescue alone wasn't enough, 11 of the 14 driving holes have fairway bunkers to contend with. Forty-one of the 84 bunkers sit on dogleg corners and near fairway runoffs. Compound the pressure on each tee shot and consider six holes have out of bounds in play. Very rarely do we see a course that applies this much pressure to driving. Very similar to Oak Hill, get the ball in play from the tee and the rest of your day becomes much more manageable.
Seven of the 11 par 4s will play over 450 yards in length. Two of the par 3s are over 200 yards and two of the three par 5s are over 600 yards. Long iron ability will separate you from the field. Consider the last two Liverpool champions Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. Tiger is the best long iron player who ever lived, and Rory's long iron into 18 on Sunday at the Scottish Open was something legends are made of. This long iron test will be different than most we face over in the States. Royal Liverpool's layout rests alongside the River Dee. The new infinity green at the seventeenth reminds us just how close the players are to the coastline.
Players who position the clubface at the top of their backswing in a strong or "closed" position catch my eye. They can flight the ball much better in windy conditions. Swing dynamics play a role in this major championship more so than any other due to the changing conditions. The average green size at Hoylake is 6,400 sq/ft. Half the size of St. Andrews, players will be asked to be much more accurate on approach. The flat landscape keeps these greens from getting too crazy with undulations.
The guys who excel in proximity to the hole with a mid to long iron will differentiate themselves over 72-holes. With rain and wind predicted, green speeds will be slow. I believe this allows for weaker putters to contend. When everyone bangs the ball at the hole, putting touch is mitigated. Around the green acumen will come into play throughout the course of the entire tournament, but the level terrain will not amplify the need for an elite short game. Be a great ball striker and keep it out of the green side sand and your chances of contending are great.
Even though the conditions will be completely different than St. Andrews a year ago, the contenders will be similar. Certain players know how to play golf on the ground. They hit their landing areas and see a successful strategy for each and every shot. Just as we predicted Linn's win in Ohio last week, our course analysis will lead to more success. Similar to our success selecting Cam Smith last year (+2800). Get behind these four men and let's not just win back to back weeks, but also back to back Open Championships!
Outright winners - Open Championship
Placements, Props, and H2H's... (PGA TOUR & LPGA)
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Back with Chantel
Read The Line's Open Championship content can be seen on YouTube. Join Keith and Chantel McCabe for BetOnline's Tee to Green. Together they cover all the betting angles you'll need to know for the year's last major championship!
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9 wins in less than 7 months.
Let's continue the climb together and get The Open!
Cam Smith was on our card last year, how about back to back Claret Jugs.
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