2015 British Open at St Andrews Picks + Predictions, Plus the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #TheOpen #isitThursdayyet

Ah yes, it’s British Open week boys + girls, so hello brown grass, putters from 40 yards off the green, pot bunkers that could swallow several cattle at a time and ah yes, 4am alarm clocks. 

This year comes with the star of the Open rota playing host, as St Andrews is all front and center for the 29th time.  The last 4 British Open winners at St Andrews go like this: John Daly, Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods again and Louis Oosthuizen.  Yep, an interesting cast of characters to say the least.

With the outward 9 truly heading straight outward and the inward 9 coming right back to the clubhouse, St Andrews has many fairways that parallel each other, meaning that left usually is a safe bailout on nearly every hole.  Yes there are pot bunkers to avoid and tall fescue grasses bordering some holes, but for the most part, if a player hits it long and left, he will do well here.  Just ask Tiger Woods, John Daly and Louis Oosthuizen how that worked out for them.  So, keep that long-bombing power draw in mind when making your picks this week and don’t worry so much about accuracy off the tee, which is opposite the case of some other British Open host venues.

An up and down showing for my picks at the John Deere Classic last week, as Lockzilla Zach Johnson produced as expected (t-3rd) and Semi-Flier Luke Guthrie put in a solid showing (t-14th), but my BUST pick on the Greenbrier Classic champ Danny Lee was a bad misfire (t-3rd) and my BOLD play of the week on Jason Kokrak was straight off the hosel.

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

LOCKZILLAS (Last Week: Zach t-3rd, Stricker t-35th)

Adam Scott
Adam Scott
– Remember him?  You know, the Aussie who entered last year’s U.S. Open as the #1 ranked player in the world, only with his putting woes causing him to fall so precipitously in the world rankings and media hype that he didn’t even get one of the 14 pre-allotted media conference spots at this year’s U.S. Open?  Oh yeah, recall the tidy little 64 that he put up on Sunday at Chambers Bay to notch a t-4th finish, his tenth top 10 at a major since 2011.  Wait, let’s repeat that again for added emphasis- Adam Scott has TEN top 10s at majors since 2011, a 10 for 18 mark in terms of top tens, with seven of those being top 5s and only one major MC coming during that stretch (’11 U.S. Open).  Oh yeah, and his last three British Opens go something like this: 2nd, t-3rd, t-5th.  Plain and simple, the guy knows how to elevate his game on the highest stage, and with Stevie back on the bag (for now), he’s as capable as anyone to be hoisting the Claret Jug on Sunday.

Brooks Koepka
Brooks Koepka
– Seasoned well beyond his 25 years of age, Brooks doesn’t have a stellar British Open record as of yet (MC, t-67th), but I’m willing to ignore that as he’s just beginning to bust into his prodigious potential.  Playing the European Tour prior to the PGA Tour undoubtedly acclimated his game well for international travel and varying conditions like we’ll see this week, and his t-22nd finish at last week’s Scottish Open was just an appetite-whetter.  Let’s also not forget to mention his fine form of late on the PGA Tour as well, as he’s notched three top 20s in his past 4 starts, including a t-3rd at the FedEx St Jude Classic and a t-18th finish at the U.S. Open, that of course in addition to his win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier this season.  Huge upside and very low risk with Brooks this week.

SEMI-FLIER (Last Week: Guthrie t-14th)

Tommy Fleetwood
Tommy Fleetwood
– Yep, it’s simply inevitable- there’s always one random Euro near the top of the leaderboard at some point during the British Open, and I’m flat out telling you that Tommy Fleetwood is going to be that guy this year.  On a run that has seen his world ranking skyrocket from well in the 100s up to 47th and on the heels of a t-10th place finish at last week’s Scottish Open, Fleetwood is playing the best golf of his life.  The 24 year-old hasn’t finished worse than t-33rd on the Euro Tour since April, notching three top 11s and also a t-27th at the U.S. Open during that stretch.  He got his Open Championship debut out of the way last season (MC), so banking on his nerves being slightly more settled this time around with all of his recent successes.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last week: Lee t-3rd)

Justin Rose
Justin Rose
– Time for a rebound in my Hosel-Rocket BUST spot—A major champion and one of the most notable and likable guys on Tour to be sure, but no question about it- Rosey sucks at links golf.  Since his loony hole-out for birdie on the 72nd hole to finish t-4th at the ’98 British Open at Royal Birkdale, Rose has precisely ZERO top 10s and has missed five of twelve cuts at his national open.  Some might say that his talent will inevitably shine through sooner or later in links play, others like me recognize that his links sample size is large enough and that he can’t putt on links greens.  Need further proof?  How about opening 66-66 this past weekend at the Scottish Open, only to balloon to 72-76 on the weekend to a 74th place finish.  Rosey might be British, but that doesn’t mean he knows links.  Stay away this week and thank me later.

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

Luke Donald
Luke Donald
– Just two years ago I would’ve never believed that Luke Donald would fall far enough to qualify in this BOLD spot, but at 64th in the OWGR and having to play the Travelers Championship and finish high enough among the not-already-qualified just to get a spot at St Andrews, he certainly has had a rough couple of years with his game.  But, oh how quickly the tide can change, as with a pair of t-7th finishes in his past two starts (Travelers Championship, Scottish Open) including 8 straight rounds in the 60s, it’s no wonder Luke is saying how excited he is about his game and his chances at St Andrews.  Also add in that he finished t-11th at St Andrews in 2010 and has a pair of other top 5 British Open finishes and boom, absolutely love his chances to give his first major title a serious run this week.

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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