The Masters and US Open are perhaps more heralded amongst American golf fans, but no tournament is more prestigious overseas than the British Open.
Next Thursday marks the return of one of golf’s trickiest courses – Royal St. Georges in Sandwich, England – where good tee shots go to die and low scores are nearly impossible.
Tiger Woods has announced he will not be playing in the British, a storyline growing increasingly irrelevant thanks to golf's newest boy wonder, 22-year-old Rory McIlroy. Northern Ireland's own just finished off a rousing tournament by dominating at Congressional to capture the US Open, firing a 16-under-par 268, and breaking 12 Open records in doing so.
Check out seven things you need to know heading into this year's Open Championship!
Here is a look at some of the odds set for the tournament, courtesy of Bodog. (Note: Odds subject to change with Woods officially out.)
Rory McIlroy (5/1): Royal St. Georges is not a course that rewards McIlroy’s remarkable fairway accuracy and swashbuckling style. It instead caters to the more experienced player willing to play conservative golf and respect such a challenging course.
Congressional is a grossly easy course with its far softer greens (he hit a record 86 percent of them), truer lies and much easier approaches.
The pressure to win in England is far greater than any other tournament. The temptation to come out aggressively firing in front of the home fans is precisely what gets you in trouble at this course.
St. Georges will keep the field close. In other words, he won’t have the seven and eight stroke leads of Congressional; nobody will. How will McIlroy respond to the fickle greens and closer scores?
Phil Mickelson (25/1): Phil has struggled mightily over his career in this tournament, with only one career top ten. 25/1 seems awfully generous, even for the second best golfer of his generation.
Martin Kaymer (16/1): The 26-year-old German just recently seized the No. 3 ranking from McIlroy, who has taken two straight tournaments off since winning the Us Open. Kaymer is playing some of his best golf in quite some time, and recently said that he is very happy with the progression of his game. His ability to hit low draws and quality greens play should serve him well at St. Georges.
Ian Poulter (28/1): If there is one athlete to follow on Twitter, it may just be Poulter. Seriously, the guy never stops tweeting. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s walking down the 18th, phone in hand, with a tweet that says, “finishing up round right now. This course sucks.” But seriously, love him or hate him, a brutally tough course like this caters to Poulter, who is fantastic around greens and willing to pull up when necessary.
Luke Donald (14/1): Donald isn't a true No. 1 player despite his current ranking, but if there’s ever a time when his soft drives and unrivaled iron game make him the favorite, this is it. For a guy that understands how to aim for the rough and make sacrifices for distance, St. Georges is the perfect scenario.
Lee Westwood (9/1): The English native is enduring a little bit of what Phil Mickelson used to; that is, the inability as a premier to win a major. Wsestwood however, has been quietly playing some of his best golf, having finished in the top-3 five times over the last seven majors. Westwood’s time may be now.
Jason Day (25/1): Day is a really good player, but I’m not sure people give this guy his due. He was brilliant at the Masters and in some ways, even more impressive at the US Open, where he once again finished second. In the final round of the US Open, despite enduring a brutal stretch failing to hit greens, he managed to shoot a 68, void of any bogeys. Like Donald, he is a very steady player who doesn’t ever seem to get rattled. Besides that, everyone seems to love his wife, so either way, the guy wins.