2017 Open Preview : Royal Birkdale : 20th - 23rd July
The Open visits Southport and Royal Birkdale for the 10th time this week with the world’s top players vying to be the champion golfer of 2017. Despite being a modest 7156yds, Birkdale still presents a tough challenge - Padraig Harrington won the last Open there in 2008 with a winning score of +3, albeit in windy conditions.
As ever with links golf the weather will play a large factor on how Birkdale plays, the forecast is for cool, relatively calm conditions but coastal weather can often be unpredictable. Unlike most Open courses, narrower fairways and penal rough should put a premium on solid driving. At 7156yds and with only two par-5’s (which played the easiest to par in 2008) the course should also give the shorter hitters a chance.
The betting suggests an open tournament. Dustin Johnson (16-1) is returning from a break after the birth of his second child, in dominant form before his mishap on the eve of the Masters, the American should still be prominent. Jordan Spieth (16-1) and John Rahm (18-1) are both coming into Birkdale off wins at the Travelers Championship and Irish Open respectively, whilst Rickie Fowler (18-1) has been in consistent form in recent months. Rory McIlroy (20-1) continues to be frustrated by poor form with three missed cuts in the last four tournaments including last week’s Scottish Open.
See below for our selections on this week’s Open at Royal Birkdale (prices are subject to change);
Adam Scott (28-1) has been an incredibly consistent performer in the Open Championship – his six-year form reads T43 – T10 – T5 – T3 – T2 –T25, plus a respectable T16 in the 2008 Open. Also in that, Scott's managed a 46% strike-rate of major top-10’s (12 from 26) A solid performer this year (best T6 at The Players) there’s always doubts around Scott’s putting but it’s hard to overlook the Australian especially with 10 places each-way at Skybet.
Henrik Stenson (28-1) defends the Open title he won in epic fashion against Phil Mickelson at Troon last year. Struggling for form on the PGA Tour this season, Stenson has found some decent results back in Europe including T10 at the BMW International. The last time the Open visited Birkdale on 2008 finished alongside Greg Norman in a tie for third and 28-1 looks a generous price on Stenson to go back-to-back and repeat Harrington’s achievemenbt in 2008.