Starts: 15th July 2021
Course: Royal St Georges G.C.
Length: 7,211 yards
The Open Championship (incorrectly known as the British Open in the USA) is the only one of golf's Majors to be played outside the USA and is traditionally played on a links course. This year it returns to Royal St George's in England for the first time since 2011. It is a par 70 with only two par 5s (7th and 14th) and two very long par 3s (240+ yards). Winning scores when the Open was last played here in 2003 and 2011 were -1 and -5, so it's one of the harder venues.
"Royal St. George's is a different golf course. It is up-and-downey and it has some mounds in it and a lot of the fairways are mounded so it does repel golf shots. Tiger Woods"
Only four players broke par and fan favourite Darren Clarke prevailed. Three rounds under par and a closing 70 saw post a 5 under par total and win by three. Ominously for this year's field, Dustin Johnson finished 2nd.
Round one conditions were calm with joint leaders Thomas Bjorn and Tom Lewis coming from different halves of the draw to post -5. The second round saw the wind pick up in the afternoon. Wind and rain were present for the third round, with the morning starters getting the worst of it and unable to make up ground on the leaders.
Clarke led by a shot going into the final round and although Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson kept him on his toes, a Johnson double bogey on 14 meant Clarke had a four shot lead with four holes to play.
Only three of the last 12 Open winners were below 30. Experience counts for a lot and patience is a key requirement.
Five of the last ten Open winners were winning their first Major.
Ben Curtis won here in 2003 on his Open debut. Curtis was one of only two winners in the past 45 years who won on their Open debut (Tom Watson in 1975 was the other). Whilst unlikely, don't rule out a debutant winning at this quirky venue.
Prior Year Performance
Despite the strong trend for winners to have posted a top 10 at previous Opens, of the last eleven winners, seven missed the cut the previous year. In fact, no winner in the past 11 years has posted a top 25 at The Open the year before they won.
Seven of the last 10 Open champions had won an event in their previous seven starts. Do not underestimate the importance of momentum.
In the last 20 years there have only been five winners outside the world top-50. However, the past two champions at Royal St George's (Ben Curtis in 2003 and Darren Clarke in 2011) were both outside the world's top 100. We know that the course offers a significant element of unpredictability as there are more mounds, bumps and hollows on Royal St George's than the other courses on the Open rota so it wouldn't be a surprise to see an unexpected name come away with the Claret Jug.