The granddaddy of them all. Scene of Tom Watson's last Open Championship in 1983,Mark O'Meara's in 1998 when last played here, Royal Birkdale again requests the honor of your presence to crown the year's champion golfer.
What to expect...
Expect rough, lots of rich green rough. When the spring is wet in the British Isles, the rough is long and green. This spring was wet.
Expect the unexpected if handicapping this tournament. With Tiger Woods on the sidelines there's no clear favorite. That will make for some ripe golf viewing. Sergio's installed as the early favorite at 10/1. Keep in mind that is just a number to even out the money bet across the field. He's obviously a fan favorite. Average Golfer says beware of betting on a man to win a major that hasn't won a major. Try this link for Ladbrokes' current odds on the field. We'll handicap the field ourselves tomorrow and make accurate predictions.
Expect an exciting Sunday. This field is too close in talent to have it any other way. There's about a third of the field that I've never heard of before. I foresee a real horse race finish and some tangible excitement. Can't wait.
Since last held here in 1998 Royal Birkdale has been grabbed by both ends and forcefully pulled. No. 17 is 30 yards longer with a devilsh new green. The intended 10.5 on the Stimpmeter may be too fast for this roller coaster.
Nos. 7, and 12, both par threes, are the only holes left untouched since O'Meara's win. Everything else is longer, with the total added yardage at 155 yards. Playing lines have been altered on many holes however, as well as tightening of the bunkers and additional mounds to confound the world's best.
The great determiner, British weather, has been left untouched. Combine some wind with 10 yard wide fairways and ball hunting may be a popular sport. Gradual tree removal over the years has insured the wind will play a part.
How to watch...
If you're not on a plane by tomorrow, settle for TV coverage.
Thu., 7/17 7:00AM-2:30PM, TNT
Fri., 7/18 7:00AM-2:30PM TNT
Sat., 7/19 7:00AM- 9:00AM TNT
Sat., 7/19 9:00AM-2:30PM ABC
Sun., 7/20 6:00AM-8:00AM TNT
Sun., 7/20 8:00AM-1:30PM ABC
Tomorrow from Average Golfer...
Predictions including the winner of the 137th Open Championship.
*Open Trivia...No Brit, European, or South African golfer has won the Open at Royal Birkdale. Americans and Australians reserve that role to this point.
*Publisher's note. The link given for Royal Birkdale is the course guide from the R&A website. The club site was unavailable at press time, probably overloaded due to too many requests.