Bob Weeks Picks Six – The Open Championship

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For the 150th playing of the Open, the R&A has returned to the Old Course in St Andrews, Scotland, a layout that is loved by many for its challenges and history. Tiger Woods calls it his favorite course in all the world and he isn’t alone. This is the 30th occasion on which this grand old championship has been contested on this course and in most of the past 29, it has provided a stern test although there are many (looking at you, Nick Faldo), who believe the game has outgrown.

This week, the best players in the world will attempt to prove Faldo right with some low scores. The weather, always one of the determining factors in who gets to raise the Claret Jug, is expected to be warm (relatively speaking), sunny and windy with tastes up into the mid 30s. Look for a winning score to be in the low teens under par.

Winner

Rory McIlroy +1000

Players who can drive the ball well usually post low scores at the Old Course and the best driver of the ball these days is McIlroy, the favourite. With the big wide fairways offering some room off the tee, all he needs to worry about is hitting greens. That’s important because in his last two starts, he wasn’t great with his recovery shots, especially at the US Open. That appears to have been a minor blip for McIlroy who has arguably been the best player in the game, with seven consecutive finishes inside the top 20 and five of those in the top 10. He’s hungry for another major and this very well could be his time.

Jordan Spieth +1500

Remember last year’s Open? That’s when Spieth fired four rounds totaling 13 under to finish second to Collin Morikawa. At the time, Spieth wasn’t playing as well as he is now and somehow just willed the ball around Royal St. George’s trying to catch Collin Morikawa. He comes into this event with a game in decent shape and his love of links golf heating up. He managed a tie for 10th at the Scottish Open but should be even more amped for St Andrews.

Top 10

Shane Lowry +210

A tie for 10th at the RBC Canadian Open and a tie for ninth at the Irish Open sandwich a missed cut at the US Open for Lowry, which either gives you lots of hope or a little trepidation on picking him. The Irishman, of course, already has his name on the Claret Jug and that gives more confidence in selecting him. In all likelihood, how he plays will come down to his putter which is usually steady but has been off in those last three starts mentioned above. Still, his overall play of late gives me hope in making this choice.

Tommy Fleetwood +280

This might be my favorite pick of the week. Fleetwood had a slow start to his year but in recent months has been nothing short of impressive. He tied for fourth last week at the Scottish Open where he put up two rounds of 67 on Saturday and Sunday. His Strokes Gained: Total number was a glowing 2.45, meaning he’s playing well through the bag. In his last 13 starts, he’s finished outside the top 22 just four times. He’s made the cut in his last four Open starts including 2019 when he was the runner-up.

Top 30

MacHughes +290

Hughes played his first Open last year and all he did was finish tied for sixth, the best for any Canadian who has ever played here. That’s how he earned his spot in this year’s field. While he missed the cut at the Scottish Open, he had a nice run of results from the Memorial through the Travelers where his steady play showed. Now he’s looking to rekindle last year’s magic where he was in the hunt on Sunday. To do that, he’ll need his short game to shine, which it usually does, and keep his drives, which don’t always behave, away from the rough and bunkers. To say he loves playing links golf might be an understatement so a lot of his play will come from his inspiration of being on the Old Course.

Kurt Kitayama +320

Some good value here for a guy who just finished runner-up at the Scottish Open. Kitayama made 19 birdies there, most of any player in the field, and was tied for 16th in putts per green in regulation. That’s a very good number for a guy not necessarily known for his flatstick. If he can keep that going, he could become an attractive selection.

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