Preview: The Open Championship

Sports Mole looks ahead to the 143rd Open Championship, which is being hosted for the 12th time at Hoylake.

The great and the good of the golfing world have descended upon Merseyside this week to compete for the third Major of 2014 and the only one held outside of the USA. Here, Sports Mole runs the rule over the course and the contenders for the 143rd Open Championship.

The Course

Name: Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake
Distance: 7,312 yards
Par: 72

A general shot of the 18th hole at Hoylake Golf Course on July 23, 2006.© Getty Images

Info: The course at Hoylake is certainly no stranger to hosting the British Open, having done so on 11 previous occasions. The first of those came back in 1897, while the last was 2006, when Tiger Woods won by a two-shot margin from Chris DiMarco, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, and Sergio Garcia. To date, it remains the last time that the American has got his hands on the Claret Jug.

Founded on Merseyside in 1869, Hoylake is the second-oldest seaside links course in England and was the first to hold The Open. It's noted for its flatness, with just six of the 18 holes in the dunes, which brings the often unpredictable wind into play.

As far as previous winners of The Open are concerned, Woods was proceeded by Argentina's Roberto De Vicenzo, who won the only Major of his career in 1967. Also having triumphed at the course just west of Liverpool are: Harold Hilton (1897), Sandy Herd (1902), Arnaud Massy (1907), JH Taylor (1913), Walter Hagen (1924), Bobby Jones (1930), Alf Padgham (1936), Fred Daly (1947) and Peter Thomson (1956).

Last year's winner - Phil Mickelson: 'Lefty' finished top of the pile for the first time at the British Open, held at Muirfield, thanks to an impressive round of -5 on the final day, leaving him -3 for the tournament. His nearest challenger was Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who finished three shots back.

Five contenders

1. Adam Scott

Adam Scott in action on the 12th hole during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational on March 23, 2014© Getty Images

Regardless of the course or the conditions, the Australian world number one always seem to be in contention for the big prizes. From his last 14 outings at Majors, Scott has finished in the top 10 on eight occasions. He will also be determined to go one better at The Open, having finished second in 2012 and tied for third last year. His boyhood hero Greg Norman was the last Aussie to win the Claret Jug back in 1993.

Odds: 14/1

2. Justin Rose

Justin Rose of England hits a tee shot on the second hole during a practice round for the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club on February 12, 2014© Getty Images

Having won consecutive tournaments for the first time in his career, who is to say that Rose can't make it three in a row at Hoylake? Success at Congressional and the Scottish Open have seen his odds tumble and while the 33-year-old has missed the cut at The Open in three of the last four years, his current form is difficult to dismiss. Last year's triumph at the US Open has also proved that he has the mettle to win a Major.

Odds: 14/1

3. Martin Kaymer

 Martin Kaymer of Germany watches his tee shot on the eighth hole during the second round of the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Course No. 2 on June 13, 2014© Getty Images

The sport's last two big titles have gone to the German, who is arguably playing the best golf of his career at present. His eight-shot victory at the US Open at Pinehurst had many believing that they were watching Woods in his prime. If that wasn't enough, Kaymer then walked off with the Players Championship in May. He may not have finished in the top 10 at The Open since 2010, but with two titles under his belt this year, he could well add a third this weekend.

Odds: 22/1

4. Phil Mickelson

 Phil Mickelson in action on the 18th hole during the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship on May 3, 2014© Getty Images

The 44-year-old will be looking to emulate the likes of Harrington, Woods and Tom Watson by retaining the Claret Jug. Many believe that his performance on the final day 12 months ago was the best round of his illustrious career, which should give him confidence this time around. Mickelson may still be seeking a finish within the top 10 this year, but he tends to save his before form for the Majors.

Odds: 25/1

5. Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland waves to the gallery during the first round of the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Course No. 2 on June 12, 2014© Getty Images

The Northern Irishman will be the first to admit that he has struggled to build upon his maiden Major triumph at the 2010 US Open. Aside from the same event two years later and the 2012 British Open, McDowell has rarely threatened to add another Major to his trophy cabinet. He won in France last week, though, and performed well at a tournament in Ireland before that. Rain and wind has been forecast on Merseyside this weekend and when it comes to adverse conditions, there are few better players than 34-year-old.

Odds: 28/1

Sports Mole says: Literally anything can happen at a Major and as always the field appears to be extremely open. The form of both Rose and Kaymer should not be ignored, though, so don't be surprised to see both of them battling it out for the title come Sunday evening.

Tiger Woods at the fifth hole during the third round of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship on March 8, 2014
Read Next:
Woods to play alongside Stenson, Cabrera at Hoylake
>
You May Like
Recomended from Sports Mole



Golf on LockerDome