MX23RW : Thursday, November 30 01:38:17| >> :600:43268147:43268147:

Preview: The Open Championship - predictions, course guide, preview

Sports Mole previews The 150th Open Championship at St Andrews, including predictions and a course guide.

At a time when the PGA Tour and DP World Tour's conflict with the LIV Golf Series wrangles on, the 150th Open Championship gets underway at St Andrews on Thursday.

Collin Morikawa is the defending champion after his triumph at Royal St George's 12 months ago, but you have to go back to 2008 for the last time that this major title was successfully defended.

The Open preview

Collin Morikawa celebrates with the Claret Jug on the 18th green following his final round winning the Open Championship golf tournament in 2021© Reuters

The ongoing rows and criticisms involving the LIV Golf Series have threatened to make such an historic occasion on the East Coast of Scotland somewhat of a sub-plot.

However, now that the world's best players - regardless of the organisation that they represent - have descended on St Andrews, all eyes are on who could prevail late on Sunday afternoon.

The last seven majors have all been won by different players, highlighting the depth in the sport right now, and it is difficult to form any kind of conclusive opinion with this being the first Open to be staged at the Old Course since 2015.

Given the lead that he has generated at the top of the World Golf Rankings, Scottie Scheffler is naturally one of the favourites, but the Masters champion had a missed cut at the Scottish Open last week.

However, Morikawa recently told a story of how a poor performance at the same event 12 months ago proved pivotal in his victory at Sandwich, and it would be naive to write off his chances just yet.

Last week's event was won by Xander Schauffele, the American prevailing by one shot to back up his recent success at the Travelers Championship, and he is the clear man in form heading into this event.

Matt Fitzpatrick celebrates winning the 2022 US Open on June 19, 2022.© Reuters

Many eyes will naturally be on US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick, who finished in 10th spot last week on what was his first appearance since his famous win Stateside.

Rory McIlroy, the 2014 champion, comes into this event having opted to miss the Irish and Scottish Open in favour of preparing at the two-day JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor.

Nevertheless, the Northern Irishman recently came through a five-tournament run over six weeks with a win to his name and a worst finish of 19th position.

You cannot go through a major championship preview without mentioning Tiger Woods, particularly with the legendary figure participating at a course that he has frequently described as his all-time favourite.

Woods, who won at this course in 2000 and 2005, is unlikely to be among the leading contenders as he continues to battle with the injuries that he sustained in a car accident last year, but his presence sprinkles some stardust on one of the most anticipated weeks on the calendar.

Course guide

Tiger Woods during one of his practice rounds ahead of The Open on July 10, 2022.© Reuters

From the image above, you can see that the rough at St Andrews will become an issue if you are a regular visitor, but this is a golf course steeped in history and tradition.

The opening and closing holes are relatively easy ones, but they are known for the Swilcan Burn which flows across each fairway and the Swilcan Bridge which takes the players over that stretch of water.

Many of the greens are shared - the only holes having their own dancefloor being 1, 9, 17 and 18 - with the 17th hole, named 'The Road Hole', one of the standout attractions with the tee shot being required to be hit over a hotel on the right-hand side and the Old Station Road representing out of bounds.

In total, the Old Course at St Andrews is a Par 72 measuring 7,305 yards - the only par fives coming on 5 and 14 - with the course record of 61 being set by Ross Fisher in 2017.

SM words green background

We say: Shane Lowry to win

This is not quite needle-in-a-haystack territory, but there is an argument that the realistic contenders for this event extends into the twenties, maybe even thirties.

Although Schauffele will gain a lot of support, three successive tournament wins would be Woods-esque, while Fitzpatrick should also be considered on the back of five top-10s in six outings.

McIlroy has the potential to go low 60s on more than one occasion on what will remain a dry, firm course, while the South African contingent led by Louis Oosthuizen, who won his Open crown at this course, and Branden Grace should not be ignored.

However, we are going to go with Shane Lowry. The Irishman and 2019 winner has gone slightly under the radar, but a ninth place at the Irish Open and three top-threes in 10 events is enough for us to back the world number 22 to prevail in what we feel will be a packed leaderboard come Sunday.

ID:489824:1false2false3false:QQ:: from db desktop :LenBod:collect8368:

Previews by email

Click here to get Sports Mole's daily email of previews and predictions for every major game!

Collect / Create New Data
Share this article now:
Tiger Woods at the conclusion of the 2022 Masters.
Read Next:
Woods to play with McIlroy at US PGA Championship