The Open Championship is officially upon us as all of the greatest golfers in the world rendezvous at the Home of Golf, St. Andrews. There are plenty of storylines being talked about like, “Will Jordan Spieth win the first three majors of the year?” or “Will Dustin Johnson get his U.S. Open revenge?”
So while the experts are busy running those topics into the ground, let’s take a look at some more outrageous things that could happen at the 144th Open Championship.
Miguel Angel Jimenez will be the leader after the first round
Jul 13, 2015; St. Andrews, Scotland, GBR; Miguel Angel Jimenez walks to the second tee during a practice round for the 144th Open Championship at Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
How can you go against the Most Interesting Man in Golf? The first round of any major championship usually has at least one obscure name at the top of the leaderboard, so I’m going with the Mechanic as my pick to lead after the first round.
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A winner on the European Tour 21 times, Miguel has a history with links style courses. His best finish at an Open Championship was a tie for third in 2001. Leading the first round of a British Open wouldn’t be new for Jimenez, he took the lead back in 2009 after firing a 6-under at Turnberry.
At the age of 51, Jimenez isn’t even close to slowing down. He’s currently in 10th for the Race to Dubai rankings, showing that he has been playing some solid golf this year and still able to keep up with the kiddies. He’s in the top 25 on the European Tour in scoring average and has the most hole-in-ones of any player on Tour, for whatever it’s worth.
Even if he’s not the leader after the first day, the man is grouped with John Daly for the first couple rounds. That grouping alone should make you want to tune in.
Just have a look at this guy’s warm up routine:
Tiger Woods will crack the Top 5
Jul 13, 2015; St. Andrews, Scotland, GBR; Tiger Woods walks off the 10th tee during a practice round for the 144th Open Championship at Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. Mandatory Credit: Ian Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Coming off his best round in over two years, Woods is starting to regain form from the Tiger of old. While he hasn’t put together consistent back-to-back tournaments since 2013, now is the perfect time for him to do so. He finished 7-under and tied for 32nd at the Greenbrier Classic and heads to St. Andrews where he has had tremendous success.
Woods has three British Open victories, two of which have come at the Old Course. The other times in his career the British Open was held at St. Andrews was in 1995 which was his first appearance and 2010 when he tied for third. He knows how to win on this track and finally has found some confidence in his driver.
Eldrick is loving the way that St. Andrews is setting up this week. The course is playing softer than expected due to recent rainfalls this month in Scotland. With the softer greens, scores could be a lot lower than your usual British Open. If Tiger can find the consistent golf he played at the Greenbrier two weeks ago, then we could see him in contention come Sunday.
"“I was shocked. I had seen photos of it a month ago. It was bone dry. It looked like it was going to be one of those dust bowls again; hard, fast, like the years I’ve played St. Andrews. It’s changed. They got big rain and a lot of sun. It’s totally changed."
Tom Watson will win The Open Championship
Jul 13, 2015; St. Andrews, Scotland, GBR; Tom Watson putts on the 18th green during a practice round for the 144th Open Championship at Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
I wasn’t lying when I said these would be bold predictions, but wouldn’t it be something if Tom Watson could pull this one out?
The R&A decided to give Watson an extended exemption to compete in The Open Championship one last time. Watson holds The Open record for winning on five different links courses, but has never won at the Old Course, which is why he will get it done this week.
If you remember back in 2009, Watson made us all believers. At the age of 59, Watson took Stewart Cink to a four-hole playoff at Turnberry, but didn’t have enough gas in the tank and finished as runner-up.
Now, at the age of 65, Watson has something that Jordan Spieth and the other young guns don’t have. Experience and plenty of it. The British Open isn’t like the other majors. While it rewards lengthy players, The Open is usually played on courses full of character.
With a track like St. Andrews, Old Man Watson has plenty of experience under his belt to understand the layout of the land and how the ball will roll. He has played 24 professional rounds at The Home Course, not to mention the flat layout of the course will make it much easier to walk for a man of his age.
Watson’s best finish at an Open Championship at St. Andrews was a tie for second in 1984. Add that to his five wins, two runner-ups, and ten top ten finishes at the British Open and you’ve got quite the track record.
If Watson did somehow find a way to win this thing in his final appearance, it would be the story of the century. At 550-1, don’t count the old man out.