Written by Ryan Sura (@ryansura18)
Well, here is yet another major tournament preview article from yours truly. Not much of a choice, more of an obligation to notasportshow.world as they won’t let me write about literally anything else but golf. So, here I am getting golf fans ready for the 147th Open Championship in Carnoustie, Scotland.
Where in the world are they playing?
The PGA Tour is going across the pond to Scotland this week for some links-style golf at Carnoustie. This will be the eighth Open Championship held at Carnoustie, and the most recent one prior to this year was in 2007 when Padraig Harrington eclipsed his first major championship. Believe it or not, this course really has not changed much in eleven years. Back in 2007, Harrington fought back on the last day to take Sergio Garcia to a playoff, where he won with a 4-under 67 in tough conditions. Blast from the past segment here, but Mike Weir finished T-8th in 2007 at Carnoustie. Go Canada go am I right?!? Who knows maybe Adam Hadwin will follow in Weir’s footsteps and make Canada proud in this iconic tournament.
This monstrous track is playing at a whopping 7,402 yards. Everything that could go wrong on a golf course can happen at Carnoustie. They’ve got water hazards, they’ve got fescue, they’ve got massive bunkers that you could probably get lost in. Taking down this golf course is not going to be easy. This course was set out by Old Tom Morris on the North Sea coastline in 1867. Since then, there were only alterations in 1931 by James Braid.
Carnoustie possess one of the hardest finishes in golf. The 248 yard Par 3 16th, followed by two lengthy Par 4’s to finish with trouble practically everywhere. How can anyone forget the biggest choke in golf history, when Jean van de Velde made a triple bogey on the 18th hole at Carnoustie in the 1999 Open Championship. An absolutely devastating moment for the Frenchman. Scotland has been incredibly dry this summer, which means the course will be playing hard and fast. Oh and former Open Champion Padraig Harrington does not want you to forget how windy it is: “… just getting used to the fact that you could hit 7-iron into the wind and it’s only going to go 125 yards”. That is a lot of wind Padraig.
Golf guys are BIG Sabermetric guys
Golf has many statistics that measure what a golfer is great at and what they are bad at. These are my four most important stats to look for in the players this week:
-Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
Having the ability to scramble when hitting a bad shot is key in golf. However, scrambling on a links course in the UK is a completely different story. Golfers will need to be absolutely locked in with their scrambling efforts this week. Whether that be from a deep greenside or fairway bunker or even from the fescue. Every shot needs to be calculated.
Since it is so dry and hard over in Scotland right now, the big bombers will be able to have easy wedge shots into the greens. Guys like Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka who workout 42 times a week, will be able to limit the toughness of their approach shots.
Although scrambling is key, keeping it on the fairway is the easiest way to avoid all the shitty stuff. So, players who are at the top of the SG: Tee-to-Green will have the ability to keep it in the fairway and control the golf course a little more.
Favourite: Francesco Molinari 33/1 or Jason Day 40/1
The Italian Stallion is not a tough pick here. His last two starts he has come second place and also won the Quicken Loans National. Another quick little sabermetric stat of the day is that 12 out of the last 18 Open Champions won prior to the major on the PGA Tour, so Francesco is sitting pretty. He is also second on Tour in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green in 2018.
Jason Day elevates his game on the big stage. However, I believe the way the course is set up this week bodes well for him. He hits the ball a mile and is crafty with his wedges. The Aussie is also first in putting and Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green, which means he will be able to make birdies and par saves. With how hard and dry the course is, he won’t have to hit too many iron shots. Day has a legitimate shot at winning this week.
He’s got winner all over his face…
Darkhorse: Matthew Southgate 150/1
Matthew Southgate is a tremendous links style player. If you did not already know, Southgate has been a member at Carnoustie since he was 16! He is obviously familiar with the course and whenever he has been put to the test with golf courses like Carnoustie he tends to succeed. In Southgate’s last two Open Championship appearances in 2017 and 2016, he has finished 6th and 12th. Give the Englishman a chance this week.
Ryan plays for the Ryerson Men’s Golf Team so he is extremely entitled. He is also studying Sport Media at Ryerson, which leads him to believe he knows everything about sports. He believes Kemba Walker has potential to be a top 5 point guard and that the Cincinnati Bengals are a “successful” sports franchise. I know right, what a lunatic.