2012 Open Championship Infographic

Author: Jake Filan @ Golfsliced.com

The 2012 British Open is here and kicks off today at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. This is a highly anticipated major since Tiger Woods seems to have found his game and is looking for his 4th Open Championship in 12 years. The field is deep and so is the rough, should be a great week. For tips on who might take the crown this week see the betting blog here.

But its not all about the golf as this interesting insight behind the scenes demonstrates:

Invention: The Sand Wedge

Gene Sarazen’s invention of the modern sand wedge is a series of well-worn tales that bears repeating.

1. While being taught by Howard Hughes how to fly a plane, Sarazen took note of how a plane’s tail adjusted downward during takeoff, spawning an idea.

2. The inspiration for the design itself came from Sarazen’s careful observation of ducks landing on water (naturally), particularly the way in which their bellies skimmed across the water.

Either way, and whatever tale you prefer, Sarazen reached out to his equipment company, Wilson, and had them send him half-a-dozen niblicks (the equivalent of a 9-iron).

Using solder, Sarazen experimented with different amounts of mass on the sole of the clubs until he found one he felt would easily extricate the ball from sand.

Sarazen took the club to the 1932 British Open, taking care to keep the club under wraps for fear it would be deemed illegal before play began. Sarazen then used the club during his win at Prince’s in 1932.

The 141st Open Championship

141st Open Championship

268 miles as birdies fly from the peace and tranquility of Castle Stuart and Moray Firth, is the beating heart of West Lancashire; home of the hot pot, the Illuminations, 24/7/365 Ken Dodd, the only curry house-come-disco I know (‘Planet Poppadom’ if interested!) and the gay capital of the north (does the R&A know?). It’s Blackpool-Sur-Mere!

Ten minutes further in a taxi is Lytham where the following has been taking place; Darren has returned a silver jug; agronomists have been busy shaving it nice and tight; the rough areas have been left to grow to waist height and Ted Potter Jr. is preparing for a good-old-fashioned-knees-up on the trams with a curry and a boogie.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s the oldest and most prestigious major golfing event on planet earth, so pop your Little Boots on for the greatest game on grass as the Royal & Awesome rolls into town for the 141st Open Championship!

Date:                     19th – 22nd July 2012

Venue:                 Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club, Lytham St Annes, Lancs, England

It’s been 11 long years since the Tour Circus last rolled into Lytham and David Duval must be thinking that too (it was his last tournament win) here on the 11th Open outing over these fine links. For those of you old enough to remember, it is the only Open venue that is not directly on the sea; that starts with a par three; includes three par threes on the front nine and has three tough holes to finish (remember Seve’s shot from the car park on 16 in ‘79?).

It’s not a long track and it will favour accuracy over length due to 206 strategically placed bunkers near its narrow fairways and around its tiny greens – and sadly no one has said that it favours left-handers like Ted Potter Jr yet…

Yards:                   7,086 yards

Par:                        34 + 36 = Par 70

Field:   

Like all major tournaments, it’s the golfing crème de la crème this week including the top 50 in the world (minus Mssrs Simpson and Day who both opted for babysitting duties), the top 30 of both the 2011 PGA and European Tours, all previous Open Champions under 60 and Ted Potter Jr (500/1 (838/1 with BetDaq is available!)).

The field includes the walking legend that is Tom Watson (500/1) and every Open Champion from the recent modern era with the exception of Mark O’Meara – at the other end of the scale are two amateurs fighting for the silver medal; the motherlands Alan Dunbar (1/2 to take it) and the positively international Manual Trappel (6/4 – all Ladbrokes).

Consider…:

Luke Donald (37/1 with Betfair to be first round leader) nailed it when he said much of what you need to know; “It’s very fair, but it’s very tough. It’s certainly going to produce the guy who plays the best because there’s no escaping some holes; you’ve just got to step up there and hit good tee shots. You aren’t going to find lucky lies in the rough. You’re not going to be able to get to the greens from the bunkers. It’s about hitting fairways, hitting greens…”

Beyond that, the weather plays its part; and thankfully no rain is currently scheduled for competition days. There are 10 mph winds Thursday through Saturday and a positively challenging 20 mph wind on Sunday. Oooocha…

Ones to watch:

It is just a matter of time before Dustin Johnson (57/1 with 32Red) grasps his first victory in a major having had trophy’s snatched from his very clutches on two occasions; at the PGA Championship in 2010 and in this outing last year where he shared runner-up honors at Royal St. George’s after going OOB on the 14th. He tied for 14th in 2010 at St. Andrews and has proved he could win anywhere, could pound the par 5s and could deliver proven success in unpleasant conditions.

The cheeky Italian Francesco Molinari (49/1 with 32Red) failed to close the door on what would have been a wire-to-wire victory at last week’s Scottish Open, settling for his second straight runner-up finish and sixth top 10 in his last eight starts worldwide. He is second in the Race to Dubai and ranks highly on the European Tour in fairways hit and top five in greens in regulation. Does he have enough gas in the tank to compete again this week? I (ti) think so!

 

Ones to win:

The world’s top-ranked golfer has a pair of victories already this year worldwide – the BMW PGA and the Transitions Championship with 3 further top tens worldwide from 13 starts although his only two top 10s from 11 starts in the Open occurred in 2009 and 2010. Luke Donald (20/1 with BetVictor) has an improved range of shots from the tee that will be a valuable addition to his arsenal alongside his scrambling – which some think will see him finally grab the major honours that he deserves.

The first player in 2012 to hit the magical three wins is playing – he’s a former world number one and there is an argument that his recent swing modifications were built exclusively for this week. He’s fifth on the PGA Tour in total driving distance so won’t need the long stick often (we all remember his victory at Hoylake in 2006 when the big club gathered dust in his bag). He ranks 11th in greens hit and high in putting but more importantly he is Tiger Woods (10/1 with Ladbrokes).

Trick shots:

Ted Potter Jr to be the top finishing debutant delivers – 25/1 with Ladbrokes. (You heard it here first!!)

Ted Potter Jr to be the top finishing left hander will return you 14/1 with SkyBet (Thank me later!)

Ted Potter Jr to be the top finish American and you will get back 175 of what you put on (I said to you!)

Now cue the classic BBC golfing music and run VT…

Jenks Out!

Race to Dubai: AAM Scottish Open

Race to Dubai:   Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open

Salvaged – that’s what this was. Salvaged. After all that came out in the wash (fairways, banks, bunkers and only 54 holes I seem to remember!) this was salvaged from a mere statistical existence in a history books, unlike most other Scottish sport, by a late to the party sponsor (who seem to like to properties all things shite Scottish). That said, I am delighted that the best game on grass warms up for “The Jug” by playing links golf in the motherland.

Date:                     12th – 15th July 2012

Venue:                 Castle Stuart Golf Links, Inverness, Scotland

It’s already the 56th best global course after a few years in existence! The opening three holes on each nine run away from the Clubhouse along the edge of a raised running along the side of the Moray Firth. It’s spectacularly natural and offers incredible views over the water to the Black Isle. Beware though, the expanse of wild looking bunkers bordering fairways and greens, the rumples and infinity edges that will catch all but the most accurate of shots.

Pictures from CastleStuartGolf.com

Yards:                   7,193 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

Looking at the full spectrum of talent on display consider the saltire clad loons James Byrne (500/1), David Law (600/1), Michael Stuart (1,000/1) and Sandy Lyle (1500/1) – with a cumulative world ranking of 5,436 (it seems the counting stops at rank 1447 (all bar James Byrne hit this invisible ceiling!) all the way down to the positively global Oosthuizen (33/1), Green (125/1) and Mickelson (28/1).

Consider…:

Not being negative (that’s the Scottish way) BUT, last year’s event was unfortunately hit by unprecedented summer storms that forced a foreshortened 54 hole version of the tournament. Coming off the back of 40 days and nights of recent rain – and with Noah clearly parking a sizeable floating zoo 100 yards out in the Moray firth – it all sounds too familiar aye? A winner again after 54 holes is possible but a little rain and 15 mph winds never hurt anyone right?

Ones to watch:

Hoping for another landslide victory on the 52 week cumulative anniversary as Numero Uno, it’s a majorly consistent Luke Donald (8/1 with BetFred) who has the potential to repeat what he repeated at Wentworth by repeating what he did last year. But I think it’s a likely podium not a triumph – though he does stand a better chance this week than next in the Open…

Pictures from CastleStuartGolf.com

“He’s big, he’s strong – he’s not been winning long – its Colsaerts!”. World number 35, tall and lithe, its big hitting Nicolas Colsaerts (22/1 with BetFair) who will out bat the rest of the field this week AND he’s been Mr. Consistent in his scoring too. He triumphed in the mighty lucrative Volvo Match play but currently clings to an automatic Ryder Cup  spot but he will want to cement his position and ensure that he’s the only Belgium you can’t blame anything on.

Ones to win:

Three top tens in five outings put Padraig Harrington (17/1 with BetDaq) back on the radar – and now crucially for such an experienced links player just in time for the three weeks of the Irish, Scottish and British Opens. An 8th in the Masters was followed by a 4th in the US Open and a 7th in the Irish. He’s the major winner of the field in the best current form but not guaranteed a Ryder Cup pick he will be aiming to find some form or a trophy to make up ground on his peers.

Having searched in the dark abyss of mediocrity, it seems that Henrik Stenson (31/1 with BetDaq) has finally found what he’s been looking for and stopped playing mince. Two consecutive top tens in Germany and France signify the sweet swinging Swede might be back to somewhere resembling his very best. I am unsure what we all think the reasoning behind his drop in form (a fall out with Fanny perhaps left at bitter taste in his mouth?) but it’s a great return for the former winner of the Ryder Cup, Players Championship and WGC World Match play. Its tatties for the rest of the field!

Trick Shot!

If a South African flavor trick shot is your thing, what about a triple chance where if Oosthuizen, Coetzee or Grace triumph – there’s a 12/1 return with SkyBet.

If it’s a more homeland feeling stirring your loins this week, consider a top ten place for Marc Warren that will return you 11/1 with William Hill.

Finally, if it’s for the top Sassenach to finish in the field this week, look no further than Simon Dyson – who returns odd of 8/1 (without Donald in the mix) from Bet Victor.

Jenks Out!

 

Trump International Golf Links

Donald Trump, the larger than life US tycoon, struck the first ball on his new Scottish golf course today.

• Donald Trump opened the golf course with Colin Montgomerie and Paul Lawrie

• Menie development sparked a long-running row with environmentalists

• Future of proposed offshore wind farm to be decided by Scottish ministers

The tycoon was piped to the first hole of the Aberdeenshire course and teed off with former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie, who said it was an “honour” to play the first round on the “marvel” of a course.

Sandy Jones, chief executive of the PGA, and George O’Grady, chief executive of the European Tour, said they would work to bring major golf events to the course.

Regardless of what your thoughts on the tycoon – the pictures (taken by legendary golf photographer Brian Morgan) portray the course to certainly look like one of the world leading links golf courses. What do you think?

You’ve Been Trumped

American tycoon Donald Trump has hit the first ball on his new Scottish golf course on Tuesday.

The building of Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire has been controversial, with environmental campaigners opposing the construction of the course on protected sand dunes and Mr Trump himself complaining about a potential offshore wind farm being built near the site.

The course will open to the public on Sunday July 15 with a series of private events being held this week.

The businessman cut a ribbon on the first tee on Tuesday to mark the opening and hit the first balls with former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie and 1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie.

More than £100m has been spent on the course and the clubhouse, but further plans for a hotel and homes in the area have been put on hold until a final decision is made on the offshore wind farm proposal.

Trump International said 160 jobs have been created so far with positions in management, catering and course maintenance.

Work on the course began in July 2010 after the tycoon won planning permission to start work on the construction four years after plan were first put forward.

By way of a topical look at the development, take a look at the trailer for the movie “You’ve Been Trumped” released in 2011 (links to the full film are available…).

Race to Dubai: Alstom Open de France

Race to Dubai:   Alstom Open de France

From the Chalk white cliffs in Normandy, to the vineyards in Burgundy and everything in between including the Alps, stunning National Parks and Gorges and the azure blue of the Mediterranean. France has it all. Including this week,  the European Tour as its travelling company of golfers rolls into town on a links swing on its way to Scotland and The Open. So sit back, relax and enjoy culture and class in abundance; music Maestro! Players -break a leg!

Date:                     5th – 8th July 2012

Venue:                 Le Golf National (Albatross Course), Gay Paris, La France

25 minutes South of Paris is Versailles – you may have heard of it. It’s more over the top than Disneyland Paris, just as expensive and the original symbol of royal absolutism and embodiment of classical French art. In its garden is Le Golf National – a poncy French test of golf and, despite Seve’s best endeavours, host for the Ryder Cup in 2018. It is a confused offering: a links course but target golf where water hazards and bunkers create the demand for a full set of clubs. It has no hidden secrets but is open to being played properly in order to win including aggressively on the first 6; take the birdie chance on the 12th, and protect your score on the final holes.

Yards:                   7,347 yards

Par:                        Par 71

Field:                   

It’s a strong European field this including Westwood (who missed out on a cracking Irish Open!) (7/1), Poulter (28/1), McDowell (16/1), Rose (16/1), Molinari (22/1) and Casey (110/1 – all Bet365). No Americans have been invited after Bubba Watson riled Francophiles by referring to three French landmarks as the big tower, the archway and the L building and referred to the Palace of Versailles as a castle before ordering a 1787 bottle of Chateau Lafite and pouring it off his hotel balcony. Im sure the appearance fee of $240,000 softened the pain of no return invite…

Consider…:

In the last 12 years (barring the odd year) it has been a happy hunting ground for the mediocre journeyman pro – with wins for such household names (in their own quaint English villages) for John Bickerton, Phillip Golding (1,000/1 with Bet365) and Malcolm McKenzie in 2006, 2003 and 2002 respectively. However, history dictates it also appears to favour the Scots (the miserable weather perhaps?), the French (zut alore!) and the South Africans (lord knows!) who have all sampled the sweet taste of a garlicky and wine fuelled victory here.

Ones to watch:

Fabrizio Zanotti (80/1 with SkyBet) caught my eye last week – and his National flag looks vaguely French! After three good rounds including a closing 66 at Portrush netting him a € 149,140 pay day and second place, the micro Paraguayan still waits for the breakthrough victory but for now – he seems to be happy to continue being the bridesmade, not the bride – and as he showed from a full arsenal of shots and skills in Ireland, could be a contender on a tricky track like this.

As a 17 year old, David Drysdale (123/1 with BetFair) marked the score of Roger Chapman and John Daly in the 1992 Muirfield Open. Now himself a player on tour (despite years of nail biting finishes at the low end of the rankings) he is now an established accurate and consistent player who has compiled three top tens in 2012. Like, Zanotti, showed his ample talent with a closing 66 in Ireland to push him into the top 50 in the Race2Dubai and is a Scot – so plays good when its bad outside!

Ones to win:

Nottingham Forest supporting Tour vet (22 victories) Lee Westwood (7/1 with SkyBet) looks set to take the field by the scruff of the neck following a lazy week (sadly the best  week on Tour for both players, spectators and organisers alike). We all should know his form guide but its good – 4 top 5s in four months, 3rd in the Race to Dubai and over £1m in Euro take home pay already. Plus he’s above red hot Tiger Woods in the World Rankings! A potential winner? I think so…

Mais oui, c’est Victor Duboisson (80/1 with Bet365) qui a looking-a-likely-winner-this-week! With two top fives in his last three outings and with no finish worse than 27th since end of March, the Frenchman is ready for a breakthrough to the league of Tour winners. In 2009 he was world amateur number 1 and now a quiet 132 (in professional ranks) but on home soil, with the whole history of France on his shoulder and Louis XVII looking over him – a likely surge from a strong outing this week will be just what the Les Blues had in mind… But no jumping in the water please.

Jenks Out!