2014 British Open at Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) Preview, Picks + Predictions, Plus the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #TheOpen

With the USGA introducing us to “brown is the new green” at this year’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst, we’re in for a bizarre twist of sorts, as this year’s British Open Championship at Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) will be anything but bakey brown. 

Recall the ’06 British Open Championship (sorry BBC, we’re in the U.S., so it’s not simply “The Open” here), when eventual champion Tiger rifled his way around the hardpan to the tune of just one driver over the course of 72 holes, instead opting for stingy long-irons off every tee which allowed him to hit 48 of 56 fairways (1st in the field) and find just 3 bunkers off the tee all week.

Enter 2014, where a post-op/HGH Tiger will be teeing it up for the first time in a major this year, with his major championship title drought now stretching to 19 straight without hoisting the trophy.  Also enter 2014 Hoylake, which with far more moisture than the super-baked concrete that was the ’06 British will play far closer to its “official” yardage of 7,312 yards.

Avoiding those pot bunkers off the tee (essentially a one-shot penalty as players often have to play out sideways or even backwards just to escape) will still be crucial to success this week; however, playing conservatively and laying back with irons all week with lush ground will not lead to many scoring opportunities into these greens.  Even the longest of players will certainly have to pull out 3-woods or drivers at least a handful of times in order to be in position to make red numbers this week.

After several straight weeks of solid picks, my crew at the JDC disappointed me last week as English, de Jonge and Guthrie all made the cut, but none cracked the top 25.  Also, my DOTD play of the week Jason Bohn missed the cut and my Hosel-Rocket Bust of the week Ryan Moore finished a solid t-7th.  Alas, perhaps my mind had already crossed the pond into British Open mode.

Now, let’s hop into some picks for this week:

LOCKZILLAS (Last Week: English t-74th, de Jonge t-45th)

Adam Scott
Adam Scott
– Has a world #1 ranked player ever come into a major so overshadowed?  I’m not so sure this has ever happened, as Scott, and everyone in the field other than defending champion Lefty are being completely overshadowed by the media’s love fest for you know who (hint: his initials are HGH, I mean TW).  Scott hasn’t played since his t-9th at Pinehurst a month ago, and perhaps that’s another reason for his sneaky quiet entrance this week, but don’t let that deter you from picking him.  He won Colonial, finished t-4th at Memorial, t-9th at Pinehurst in his past three tourneys (yep, not too shabby), and finished t-3rd and solo 2nd at the British Open the past two years.  Simply put, he builds his season’s schedule around doing what’s necessary to peak four times per year, making Adam the biggest lock in the entire field to finish in the top 10 this week, hands down.

Brandt Snedeker

Brandt Snedeker– I love the trend that our smiley, curly-haired lad Sneds is on right now.  After an abysmal injury-plagued start to the season, Sneds is rounding into form with a t-9th at Pinehurst, t-11th at the Travelers and a t-21st at Congressional in his last three starts.  Also add in that he has openly proclaimed his love for playing overseas and has shown some great form in the past two years at the British, finishing t-11th and t-3rd respectively.  He’ll be under-picked this week in all formats, and you’ll be the one to capitalize.

SEMI-FLIER (Last Week: Guthrie t-27th)

Stephen Gallacher
Stephen Gallacher
– Mostly just an I’ve-seen-his-name-on-the-leaderboards-but-don’t-know-where-he’s-from-or-who-he-is name to the majority of golf fans, Gallacher is a Scottsman ranked 33rd in the OWGR and is packed with some serious punch.  He’s won the Euro Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic back to back years now (one of the top early season fields every year) and also has a host of other tops finishes this season, including a t-6th at the WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral and a t-4th last week at the Scottish Open where he closed with a 63.  He finished t-21st at least year’s British Open, but has never cracked the top 20 in a British Open in his career, which definitely scares me a little this week; however, I’m betting on current form and overall talent this week, predicting that he finishes well above his best ever Open finish this week.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last Week: Moore t-7th)

Brian Harman
Brian Harman
– I almost feel guilty putting him in this spot, but this is just too easy to fade Harman this week.  I loved every minute of his breakthrough at the John Deere Classic last week, but add up all of the emotions that come with that first career win, along with the quick turnaround and plane ride across the pond to his first ever British Open and boom, it just has letdown written all over it.  Stay away from picking Harman this week.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Last Week: Bohn MC)

Paul Casey
Paul Casey
– Earlier this PGA Tour season, Paul Casey was jogging every golfer’s memory banks- of oh yeah, I remember him, that Euro Tour dude who was good about 5-6 years ago, then totally fell off the map.  Casey took up full PGA Tour membership at the start of the season and played some solid golf in the late spring, with finishes of t-12th at the Honda Classic, t-18th at the RBC Heritage, t-11th at the Zurich Classic, t-16th at the HP Byron Nelson, t-13th at the Memorial and t-24th at the FedEx St Jude Classic.  He faded a bit at the U.S. Open finishing t-56th overall and then poof, he was out of our sites.  But, don’t make the same mistake that most golf fans make and not take notice of what he’s been doing on the other side of the pond, as Casey has played in 3 of the last 4 Euro Tour events, finishing t-33rd at the Irish Open, t-22nd at the BMW and t-14th last week at the Scottish Open (including a final round 65).  A plethora of top 25s on the season, but amazingly no top 10s as of yet- But, I’m telling you now that ends this week.  Those steady-eddy top 25 finishes help build serious confidence, and don’t forget that Casey is a former top 5 player in the world- he has serious staying power and has the talent to contend on the biggest stage, and it will really help that he comes in seriously under the radar this week.  Look for him to make a big splash on those oversized yellow leaderboards this week.

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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