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The Open - Golf: Preview

13 July 2022 10:21:24 EST
As always, focus on living legend Tiger Woods will be intense

The Open Championship returns to the Home of Golf for the first time since 2015 this week with St Andrews ready to play host to the 150th edition of golf's oldest Major.

The iconic Old Course first hosted the Open in 1873 and it has become synonymous with both the tournament and golf as a whole, with only Augusta National - the permanent home of the Masters - held in similar regard.

Zach Johnson became the latest St Andrews Open champion when he emerged triumphant from a three-man playoff seven years ago, adding his name to an mighty Old Course roll of honour which includes legends such as Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus (twice), Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods (twice).

Woods shot the 72-hole record in the 2000 Open but with benign conditions forecast this week, there are fears that the venerable, vulnerable Old Course could be brought to its knees by the power-packed modern pros.

What

The Open Championship

Where

The Old Course, St Andrews, Scotland

When

Thursday 14th - Sunday 17th July

How to watch

Sky Sports and follow via bet365's Live Golf Tracker

OddsRory McIlroy 10/1, Xander Schauffele 16/1, Jon Rahm 18/1, Jordan Spieth 18/1, Matthew Fitzpatrick 20/1

McIlroy aiming to put an end to Major hoodoo

Few players fit the power-packed mould better than Rory McIlroy, who has not won a Major since 2014 but has been knocking on the door on each occasion this year and is now the 10/1 favourite to win the Open for the second time.

McIlroy finished with a flourish at the Masters, carding a remarkable final-round 64 to fill the runner-up position behind a dominant Scottie Scheffler, and he's since finished eighth at the US PGA Championship and fifth at the US Open either side of a PGA Tour win in Canada.

The Northern Irishman captured the Claret Jug at Hoylake in 2014 before winning the US PGA a month later, but he was unable to defend his title at St Andrews after sustaining a freak injury playing football.

But St Andrews has always looked a good fit for McIlroy, who opened up with a scintillating 63 in 2010 before a horror second-round 80 in howling winds. He would go on to finish third behind runaway winner Louis Oosthuizen.

In-form Schauffele looking to make it three in a row

When Scottie Scheffler won the Masters in April, he did so having claimed three victories in his last five starts and, this week, his fellow American Xander Schauffele heads to St Andrews with similar form figures to his name.

Olympic champion Schauffele won the Zurich Classic pairs event alongside Patrick Cantlay in April and that has served as the catalyst for a prolific run of individual results including back-to-back PGA Tour victories in the Travelers Championship and at last week's Scottish Open.

Schauffele, who also won the JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor earlier last week, is 18/1 to win an overdue first Major title having racked up ten Major top-tens in his career.

Will Spieth make amends for the mistakes of 2015?

There would be few more popular champions at the Old Course than Jordan Spieth, who is primed to battle for a second Open title having previously tasted Open glory at Royal Birkdale in 2017.

Spieth, who wowed the galleries in one of the most memorable performances in recent Open history, has since finished runner-up to Collin Morikawa in last year's tournament and he has unfinished business with the Old Course, where he missed out on the playoff by a shot in 2015.

Chasing a third successive Major, Spieth had looked all set to slug it out in a four-man battle with Johnson, Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman but he bogeyed the notoriously difficult 17th - the Road Hole - before a par at the last condemned him to fourth place.

He returns to the Home of Golf after finishing in a tie for tenth at the Scottish Open and this confirmed links lover, who is 18/1 for the Claret Jug, hasn't been able to hide his excitement about getting another crack at the ultimate links venue.

Spieth, Schauffele and Scheffler are expected to lead a typically strong US challenge with defending champion Morikawa 30/1 to become the first man to retain the Open since Padraig Harrington in 2008.

Related Open Championship News

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Could this be Tiger Woods's swansong?

However, of all the potential stories at the 150th Open, perhaps the most gripping remains that of Tiger Woods, who will tee it up at St Andrews, the scene of two of his most famous and dominant Major victories.

It might be fanciful to suggest that Tiger can still compete with the best in the game over four rounds but his fighting spirit remains unmatched and the fact that he has played professional golf again after his life-threatening car crash is a testament to his mental fortitude.

The 46-year-old, who will be cheered on by a legion of supporters in Scotland, made the cut at both the Masters and the US PGA but his frailties were there for all to see as he withdrew after the third round at Southern Hills and there has even been speculation that he will wave goodbye for the last time on Swilcan Bridge.

Woods skipped the US Open with St Andrews on his mind. He's 90/1 to pull off what would be his greatest triumph of them all while those who fancy him to at least be competitive are able to take 5/6 that the living legend finishes 55th or better this week.

Thursday groups worth keeping an eye on

The Open always features some superstar three-balls but plenty will get up bright and early to watch popular veteran Paul Lawrie hit the opening tee shot when he tees off alongside Webb Simpson and Min Woo Lee at 6:35am.

Lawrie won the 1999 Open at Carnoustie - beating Jean van der Velde after the Frenchman suffered his infamous meltdown on 18 - and the Scot is 9/2 to roll back the years by winning his first-round three-ball.

Other marquee first-round groups include the 9:58am three-ball between Morikawa, McIlroy and Schauffele, for which McIlroy is 13/10 to lead the way, while Shane Lowry, Justin Thomas and Viktor Hovland are next out at 10:09am.

In the afternoon, Woods is 12/5 when he tees off alongside US Open champion Matthew Fitzpatrick and popular four-time PGA Tour champion Max Homa at 2:59pm.

Spieth, Jon Rahm and Harold Varner launch their bids for Open glory at 3:10pm with 2017 champion Spieth 13/10 to go lowest from that trio.

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