The 2022 British Open - What to Look Out ForPublished on 03/14/2023 · 8 min readThe 150th British Open is upon us! Follow along with Golf Expert Luke H. as he details the players and the holes to watch for this year's Open Championship.
Photo courtesy of yourgolftravel
This year, we celebrate the 150th contest of the Open Championship at the Home of Golf in St. Andrew’s, Scotland. Often referred to as The Open or The British Open, it is golf’s oldest championship. St. Andrews Golf Club plays home to seven courses; the Open Championship will be played on The Old Course.
The Old Course was built around the year 1400 and is referred to as the Home of Golf because it was the first known built golf course. The Scottish have been playing golf at The Old Course at St. Andrew’s for over 800 years—that’s almost 3.5 times longer than America has been a country! In addition to being the home of golf, St. Andrews also is home to St. Andrew’s University, which was also built around 1400 and is the third oldest university in the English-speaking world.
This will be the 30th time that The Old Course has hosted the Open Championship—more than any other course in The Open rotation. Previous winners of The Open at The Old Course include U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Zach Johnson (2015), Louis Oosthuizen (2010), Tiger Woods (2000 and 2005), John Daly (1995), Nick Faldo (1990), Seve Ballesteros (1984), and Jack Nicklaus (1970 and 1978). With so much history at this course and this being the 150th contest of this great championship, it is sure to be a memorable week!
The Course and the Three Holes that Will Forge a Winner
The entire course will be a true challenge for the players. Originally there were 11 holes cut at The Old Course, and players from the town would play out toward the ocean for the first 11 and then turn around and play in toward the town for a total of 22 holes. This is where the term outward and inward nine developed!
Eventually, as golf exploded in popularity, the greens would be widened and two holes would be cut on each green so two different groups could play on the same hole at the same time. However, 22 holes proved to be too much, and the townspeople were not getting equal play, so the club managers at the time decided to trim the course back to 18 holes in 1763, setting the norm for the rest of the golfing world in the process.
Legend has it that the reason they settled on 18 was because that is how many shots are in a bottle of Scotch Whiskey, but we will leave you to decide if that’s truly the case! As for this week, there are three holes, I want to spotlight that will have a “major” impact on the field.
Hole Four: Ginger Beer - Par 4, 480 Yards
The reason this hole is called Ginger Beer is because St. Andrew’s resident David “Old Daw” Anderson set up a refreshment stand for golfers in 1850. This was the first halfway house and was a favorite stopping point for golfing patrons.
Long par 4 here with a narrow strip of fairway between the dunes and gorse bushes up the right side. Some players may elect to go left of the mounds and hit it into the wide-open 15th fairway running adjacent to the fourth. But, this stretches out the length of the approach shot and makes hitting the green in regulation much more difficult.
In the past, two Open Championships contested at St. Andrews found that this was the second and third hardest green to hit. In 2005, under 50% of the field hit this green in two, and historically the field average on this hole is 4.15 (0.15 strokes over par).
Hole Eleven: High In - Par 3, 174 Yards
This is the final par 3 of the course and the most difficult of any of them. Depending on the wind, players could hit as low of a club as a 9-iron or as high as a 3-iron/hybrid. The unpredictability of the wind is what makes this hole so demanding. The green is surrounded by deep pot bunkers that some players have been forced to play backward out of. This is another hole where the field played over par in 2015 at 3.09 strokes on average.
Hole Seventeen: Road - Par 4, 495 Yards
The Road Hole is one of the most famous holes in golf, not just for the Open Championship rotation but for the entire golfing world. Players are forced to carry their driver 260 yards over the replica railway shed that is a replica of the old St. Andrews rail station which is housed at the Old Course Hotel.
As if the tee shot wasn’t demanding enough, players then have to play into a small green that runs at an angle away from the fairway with the Road Hole bunker guarding the front edge of the green. In 1978, Tommy Nakajima made a 9 here on Sunday and ended his Open Championship hopes after hitting four times out of the Road Hole bunker. Thinking you could play long to avoid the bunker? Well, you then have to contend with the road and the old cobblestone wall that is the course boundary.
In 2015, Miguel Angel Jimenez played this amazing shot off the wall to keep his par chances alive.
A Look at the Favorites
Vegas has the eye on the normal favorites this week. Rory McIlroy is the clear number one at +1000 (bet $100 you win $1000). Followed by World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler at +1200, Jon Rahm (+1400), Jordan Spieth (+1600), Justin Thomas (+1600), Matt Fitzpatrick (+1600), and Xander Schauffele (+1600).
Rory has had a great 2022 with a victory at the RBC Canadian Open in early June. He has also finished in solo second at the Masters, solo eighth at the PGA Championship, and a tie for fifth at the U.S. Open. He has been playing extremely well, and it has been eight years since Rory has won a major. The stars seem to be aligning for him to emerge with a victory at the Home of Golf.
Rory missed the 2015 championship at St. Andrews because of an ankle injury but did win the Open Championship the year before in 2014. He has won four major championships, so he definitely knows what it takes from the mental side of the game to win this event.
The top golfer on the planet has had an absolute dream season. He went undefeated in the Ryder Cup last October, won four times this season, including The Master’s title, and ascended to the top of the World Golf Rankings. He finished in a tie for second at last month’s U.S. Open, finishing one back of winner Matt Fitzpatrick. He also finished in second place, losing in a playoff, at the Charles Schwab Challenge the month before.
Scheffler played so well Sunday at the U.S. Open that I have a strong feeling that he will be in the mix on the back nine of the Open Championship this weekend as well. He played in his first Open Championship last season and finished in a tie for eighth place. Scheffler seems to be a quick learner when it comes to links golf, and a win at this venue would definitely put a cherry on top of an unbelievable year!
This is another player where it seems that the stars are aligning. The last time Schauffele won on tour was October of 2018, and he seemingly broke through that mental barrier in the last three weeks. He won the Traveler’s Championship the last week of June, then won the J.P. McManus Pro-Am the first week of July in Ireland, and capped off a smooth Sunday round yesterday at The Genesis Scottish Open in Scotland to win for the third week in a row. Xander has the dubious title of the best player in the world without a major. But, he seems to be clicking right now and has performed well in the majors this year, including a tie for 13th at the PGA Championship and a tie for 14th at the U.S. Open last month. Could this be the week he breaks through and finally puts his name on the Claret Jug?
Max Homa is my dark horse this week. Vegas has him at +8000, but I could see him surprising the golf world and hoisting his first Major Championship trophy this week. He’s had a solid season with two wins—one at the Fortinet Championship last fall and a second win at the Wells Fargo Championship in May. He’s finished in the top 50 at every major this season, including a tie for 13th at the PGA Championship. He played in his first Open Championship last season and finished in a tie for 40th. I think he is one of the best players on tour in terms of controlling his trajectory, and that could go a long way this week if the wind kicks up!
How to Watch
Because this tournament is overseas, the viewing times are a little crazy! Live coverage starts in the U.S. at 1 am Pacific Time (4 am Eastern) on Thursday.
I hope you are as excited as I am for this historic week; it is sure to be a memorable one! If you have any questions about any of the gear the pros are playing this week at The Old Course (like Justin Thomas’ new 2-iron), feel free to reach out to me or any of Curated’s awesome Golf Experts at any time. We are here to help! Stay tuned for post-round coverage on Monday and a look ahead to the FedEx Cup Playoffs and the President’s Cup to close out the 2022 season!