While most of the England and Australia will be solely fixed on the start of the Ashes 2nd test at Lords, another major sporting event is taking place just across town.
The 142nd Open Championship takes place at Murfield Golf Course in one of the most open tournaments in recent memory. In fact most of the major tournaments in the past 5 years have seen numerous winners.
Of the past 25 golf major’s 22 of them have been won by different golfers whereas the past 25 before that, only 12 majors were won by different golfers. Picking a winner has become a lot tougher and unpredictable in recent years with any golfer a chance to win on his day.
Looking through the field, in which 17 past champions are competing, a few names stand out as contenders in this year’s edition of the Open Championship.
Links golf hasn’t been very favourable to Phil Mickelson in the past having only claimed the one victory back in 1993 in Europe. However his second win in Europe last week at the Scottish Open holds him in good stead heading into the tournament.
Coming off a record sixth runner-up finish at the US Open last month, Mickelson, a favourite amongst any crowd, will be looking to notch up his first victory at the Open, improving on his previous best 2nd in 2011.
Two time Open champion’s Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington both will be looking to add a third Open title to their careers. Els seems to be the coming into the event with the better form after his fourth at the US Open, while Harrington has struggled to break into the top 10 this season on a regular basis with only one top 10 finish back in March.
While both have struggled to find consistent form this year, playing on the Links style course will bring out the best in them. Expect them to both make the cut and at least one to figure at the top of the leaderboard.
While we face another tough task in the 2nd test in the Ashes, Australia’s chances of claiming victory at the British appear promising. With a win at the Masters from Adam Scott and a tied 2nd for Jason Day at the US Open, Australia’s golf stocks have finally started to produce results they have always promised to deliver.
And the Open Championship has produced strong results for Australia with at least one Australian having a top-10 finisher in nine of the past 11 major championships. Our last victory at the open however was back in 1993 when Greg Norman saluted at Royal St George’s golf club.
Adam Scott and Jason Day are Australia’s best winning chances while Geoff Ogilvy, Marc Leishman and John Senden have all proved they can contend on the big stage having been well placed in this year’s Masters and US Open majors.
Day has been just short of a Major victory having finished runner up twice at the US Open and a second and third at the Masters. He driving accuracy and putting will both be key factors if he is to claim his first major championship.
Scott will be a much more relaxed and composed man compared to his final day 2012 Open capitulation not seen since Greg Norman was in his prime.
With a four shot lead going into the final round, it appeared Scott would finally get his first Major breakthrough. However, four bogeys over his last four holes left him one shot short of victory from Ernie Els. But victory at this year’s Masters has cleared any negative thoughts about being able to close out victory.
And how could we forget Tiger Woods. A four time Open champion, his last back in 2006, Woods will always be a threat if he can produce his best golf that once saw him unbeatable even on an off day.
Other golfers that will no doubt figure at the top end of the leaderboard at some point include Charl Schwartzel, Graeme McDowell, 2013 US Open champion Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy.
For mine, Jason Day is primed to gain his first Major victory while Ernie Els and Adam Scott will round out the placing’s.
Jackson Baker is a second year Bachelor of Journalism (Sport) student at La Trobe University. You can follow him on Twitter @JacksonBaker9