It’s The Open Championship week at Royal St George’s, which is also the season’s last Major. It is the first Open since Shane Lowry’s win in Northern Ireland in 2019 and the first at Royal St George’s since 2011, when Darren Clarke was the winner.
The course played 6.5km the last time Royal St George’s hosted The Open, and there have been only minor alterations (bunkers) to the course since. A handful of holes have had forward tee boxes supplemented and some bunkers have been added and deleted, so the course looks and plays more like it did in the past.
Hole 7 seems to be the easiest hole, the par five is essentially a must birdie if you want to be victorious on Sunday. It is eagle-able, as Darren Clarke did on Sunday in winning the 2011 Open, and a few holes – 2, 5, 12, and 17, namely – are very drivable if we see the correct wind conditions.
Royal St George’s is known for its volatile winds and over 20km/h winds are expected for all four days. How players manage this will be crucial.
The tournament form doesn’t seem to matter. Since 2008, when Padraig went back to back, no Open Champion has come better than T30 the previous year.
Recent form, however, does matter, as every champion since 2013 (except Stenson in 2016) had two top 10s in his four starts before The Open.
Collin Morikawa (14th, 2nd, 4th in his last 3 starts)
Patrick Cantlay (1st, 15th, 13th)
Harris English (14th, 1st, 3rd)
Brian Harman (8th, 29th, 5th).
Jon Rahm, who would have won Memorial and then did win the US Open.
Three top 10s in the last five Open Championships