The most prestigious tournament in golf will get underway on Thursday with world’s top golfers descending on St. Andrews for a place in history.
World No. 1 and defending champion Rory McIlroy hasn’t recovered from his ankle injury and will miss the Open this year. Jordan Spieth, winner of the Masters and the US Open is looking to make it 3 out of 3 and join an elite list of golfers to have achieved this rare feat.
About St. Andrews course
It is the oldest golf course in the world and is known to have played host to the sport for over 600 years! Golf was gaining popularity in Scotland when James II banned the sport as it distracted young men from practising archery. King James IV, a golfer himself revoked the ban in 1502.
The first Open Championship though was held in 1873 with Tom Kidd winning the two-round contest.
The Old course at St. Andrews is known for its unforgiving bunkers. The most famous ones are the 10 foot deep ‘hell bunker’ on the 14th hole and the ‘road bunker’ on the 17th hole. Most players who led in the tournament have gone on to lose after a disastrous performance in these bunkers.
There were 55 double bogeys or worse by players during the 2010 Open. McIlroy scored a 63 in the first round for the lowest opening round Open score in St.Andrews history, but came back the next day and carded an 80 on the par-72 layout.
Jordan Spieth is seen by many as the man to beat this weekend. The 21-year-old drew critisicm from various quarters for playing the John Deere Classic, which he won on Sunday in a playoff.
There is added pressure on the young shoulders as he aims to match Ben Hogan in winning the first three Majors of the year. He did not compete in the Scottish Open at Gullane, will it backfire on Spieth?
Spieth already has 4 wins before the Open, tied with Tiger Woods who did it in 2000.
Dustin Johnson came close to winning his first Major at the US Open , but crumbled under pressure to finish tied second with Louis Oosthuizen. Johnson said: “It all depends on the wind” ahead of the Open.
Oosthuizen won the Open in 2010 by an impressive seven shots. Jason Day is another player who relishes playing in the Majors. The Australian battled vertigo at the US Open last month and led after three rounds of play.
Rickie Fowler is coming to the Open at the back of a victory at the Scottish Open and momentum could just help him clinch his first Major. Phil Mickelson, who won the British Open in 2013 credited his success to winning the Scottish Open a week earlier.
Matt Kuchar was leading in the Scottish Open before Fowler birdied three of the last four holes to come out on top. Mickelson will look to put the US Open disappointment behind him as he goes for his second British Open.
Justin Rose finished an impressive fourth in his debut at the Open as an amateur. He hasn’t bettered that result since. The Englishman showed glimpses of his form at the Scottish Open before failing to capitalise on it during the weekend. Rose finished second to Spieth at the Masters this year.
Former World No. 1 Tiger Woods has happy memories of St. Andrews, where he won two of the three British Opens. The expectations on Woods are muted compared to his hey days and he flies under the radar at every major. He missed the cut at the US Open last month and is currently ranked 241st in the world.
The American doesn’t rule out catching up with Jack Nicklaus’ tally of 18 Majors.
“I’m still young,” Woods said. “I’m not 40 yet. I know some of you guys think I’m buried and done, but I’m still right here in front of you.”