Finding the Turnberry angle into last week’s Scottish Open rewarded us with 125/1 shot Matteo Manassero grabbing a place, and there’s an even more interesting angle into this week’s 143rd Open Championship.
The Royal Liverpool Golf Club hosts the Open for only the third time in 47 years this week, and only the 2006 renewal has any relevance to the modern game. It was Tiger Woods’ last Open victory and one which saw him plot his way strategically around the course using irons off the tee on a lot of holes to give him the best angles into the greens.
This year’s champion is likely to have to show just as much mastery, especially as the rough (almost non-existent in 2006) is high, thick and likely to be extremely penal for anyone venturing into it.
However, the standout statistic from the 2006 leaderboard is the presence of so many exponents of the skills required to perform well in a US Open. The first seven home in 2006 included three-time US Open winner Tiger Woods, dual US Open winner Ernie Els, 2003 winner Jim Furyk and Angel Cabrera who went onto claim the 2007 US Open.
The top-7 also included Sergio Garcia who has posted four top-10s in the US Open and ace putter Chris Demarco who posted one US Open top-10. To back the US Open link up further, 2006 winner Geoff Ogilvy finished tied 16th and dual winner Retief Goosen tied 14th. It’s a statistic that is too strong to ignore, and one which forms the fundamental basis of this week’s selection process.
2013 US Open winner Justin Rose is currently the most in-form golfer on the planet after claiming the Quickens Loans National and the Scottish Open in the last two weeks. Competing at the top of the leaderboard three weeks in succession is difficult, as is having the pressure of winning your home tournament, but I just loved the way Rose hit irons off a lot of tees in the last week of the Scottish Open, almost as though he had one eye on this week as he cruised to victory at Royal Aberdeen. 14/1 hardly sets the pulse racing but I just can’t leave him out.
If being this year’s US Open Champion isn’t too much of a mantle to carry, then Martin Kaymer has to be fancied to perform this week. His victory in the US Open was followed by missed cut in Germany and a poor final round in the French Open but, with the press focus likely to be on Rose and McIlroy this week, Kaymer should be able to gather his composure at a tasty 22/1.
One player who hasn’t won a US Open yet but looks a sure fire future multiple major winner is Hideki Matsuyama. 10th in his first US Open and 35th this year, he was also 6th in his first Open at Muirfield last year. Only 22, the young Japanese player has made his home on the PGA Tour this year, claiming victory in the Memorial, and this may be the last time you get 66/1 about this rising star.
Whilst none of the first three selections played in the 2006 Open Championship, our other three selections (bookies paying 6 or 7 places) are three aforementioned players who all performed well in that year’s renewal, and look overpriced to so again.
Angel Cabrera may be 44, but he won only two weeks ago on the PGA Tour and I can see no reason why he won’t go well here again at 70/1. Meanwhile Ernie Els has been placed in over 40% of the Opens he’s competed in and has to be backed at 100/1. Last up is Jim Furyk (66/1) who finished in the places four times, has posted five top-7 finishes on the PGA Tour this year, and finished 12th in this year’s US Open.
Justin Rose each-way 14/1
Martin Kaymer each-way 22/1
Hideki Matsuyama each-way 66/1
Angel Cabrera each-way 70/1
Ernie Els each-way 100/1
Jim Furyk each-way 66/1