The seasons third major is upon us and it is time to brace for a different, but some would argue better, type of golf that will be played at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England. There are a couple of spots yet to be determined in the field but the majority of the field is set. For those that forget The Open Championship is the official name for the British Open. The British Open and The Open Championship are synonymous in culture today but at its foundation it is still The Open Championship. 88 of the top-90 in the world will be there. Only two players, Steve Stricker and Charles Howell III, will not be in the field due to family issues that prevent the trip.
The 2014 Open Championship will be the 12th edition of the event to be held at Royal Liverpool. In 1930 Bobby Jones won the second leg of the Grand Slam when he captured The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. Check out past performances that make the list of Top-10 British Open Memorable Moments . Will this year’s edition bump one of the current British Open Memorable Moments? We will have to wait and see.
Thursday-Friday: ESPN 4 AM – 3 PM EST
Saturday: ESPN 7 AM – 2:30 PM EST
Sunday: ESPN 6 AM – 1:30 PM EST
$8 million total purse
Royal Liverpool will play every inch of the listed 7,312 yards and par-72 that the score card proclaims. Factor in the inevitable wind and possible rain and the professionals will undoubtedly have their proverbial hands full. Royal Liverpool has made some changes since the Open Championship was last contested here in 2006. 13 bunkers have been removed to leave a total of 82, five holes have seen the addition of new swales around the green and five holes now have broken ground in the rough to make challenging recovery shots even tougher. As it was in 2006, the professionals will start on the members 17th hole and finish on the members 16th hole. Of the 18 holes in play, some will be of higher importance throughout all four rounds. What do I mean? there are five holes at Royal Liverpool that can be considered swing holes which means if players excel here they will steal a few shots from the field.
Royal is the 457 yard opening par-4 here at Royal Liverpool. Welcome to the Open Championship as this will be one of the hardest holes all week. Tee shots will need to come dangerously close to a left side bunker in order to have a reasonable shot at hitting this green in regulation. A long, narrow and well protected green awaits errant shots. Make four here all week and you will gain at least two shots on the field. The par-4 seventh hole, Telegraph, will play 483 yards while placing a premium on driving accuracy. The wind will push tee shots to the right near a dangerous bunker and an extensive gorse that can spell doom. However, play the tee shot to far to the left and you find a bunker that is equally punishing. The green is protected by a front bunker that has given fits to almost anyone that has been here before.
After small “breather” players are faced with a dog leg left, 448 yard par-4 called Dee. Dee is the 12th at Royal Liverpool and the prevailing wind will undoubtedly make this hole play longer than the scorecard claims. Players will see three strategically located bunkers on the right side and want to cheat the dog leg. However, the newly added broken ground on the left will punish this thought process. Players will need to hit solid second into a green that punishes any shot short left or long right. Par here all week is a great score.
The final two holes at Royal Liverpool promise to accentuate the drama on Sunday. Lake is the par-4, 459 yard 17th hole that plays into the wind. Great care was taken to ensure that the landing area, regardless of club choice, can be met by nasty bunkers. A drive in the fairway is critical to approaching the two-tier green with any chance of avoiding the greenside rough or challenging bunkers. The decision to play Dunn, the members 16th hole, as the 18th is brilliant. Dunn is a 560 yard par-5 that can see a score anywhere from eagle to triple depending on execution. Out of bounds is in play the entirety of the hole downs its right side. The closer the players get to the right side the better the angle will be. This is truly a risk reward hole. However, lose one right and the tournament could be lost as well.
By Name Contender: Tiger Woods
Yes Tiger Woods is very rusty and has only two competitive rounds since March. Those were his first two rounds before missing the cut at the Quicken Loans National. However, he did get to Royal Liverpool early allowing him time to get acclimated. Tiger Woods captured the title the last time it was contested here in 2006. Not only did he capture the title he did it with thinking man’s golf. The driver was only used once with the 2 iron leading his charge. He learned how to place the ball around the bunkers at Hoylake. Will his return from injury rust keep him from doing it again? We will wait and see.
Win Candidate: Zach Johnson
While clearly not a conventional pick there is a bunch of logic rolled up into this pick. Johnson has made 17 of 19 cuts in 2014 including eight top-25s, five top-10s, a third, second and a title at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He had been struggling a bit but a tie for ninth at the CVS Caremark Charity Classic followed by a second place finish at last week’s John Deere Classic appears to demonstrate a return to solid form. Johnson has also played solid golf at the Open Championship over the last three years including a 16th place finish in 2011, a ninth place finish in 2012 and a sixth place finish last year at Murfield. With limited exposure to Royal Liverpool in 2006, a Zach Johnson victory just might be in the cards this year.
Win Candidate: Justin Rose
In his last seven PGA Tour starts he has finished no worse that tied for 14th at the Masters. He also finished tied for 12th at the US Open and has three top-5s during the stretch. Included in those numbers is a victory at the Quicken Loans National played on a challenging Congressional. Last week he played in the Scottish Open and took that title as well with four rounds in the 60s including a weekend of 66-65. While it is true that he does not have a phenomenal Open Championship resume, he is following in the footsteps of another player that had the same concerns, Phil Mickelson. Mickelson, as we all know pulled a Scottish Open-Open Championship back -to-back last year. I would not be shocked to see a Justin Rose breakthrough this week.
Who will win the 2014 Open Championship?
- Other (Pease Leave Comment) (45%, 13 Votes)
- Justin Rose (38%, 11 Votes)
- Zach Johnson (17%, 5 Votes)
- Tiger Woods (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 29