The focus of the sporting public will be on Scotland this week, as the 2013 Open Championship tees off in Muirfield on Thursday morning. It sees Ernie Els looking to defend the title he won in dramatic circumstances a year ago.
Adam Scott’s name was all set to be etched onto the famous Claret Jug, only for the Aussie to bogey the last four holes, allowing the man they call ‘The Big Easy’ to win by one.
Therein lies the beauty of this tournament – it is completely unpredictable. The last time it was staged at this week’s venue, back in 2002, the then European No 1 Colin Montgomerie shot 74 on the Thursday, 64 on Friday and 84 on Saturday. The winner that year has already been mentioned...E Els.
You could count on one hand the number of times this week’s field get to play links golf during the year. Muirfield is by the sea, and Els is one who likes it there.
Week in week out, tournaments are held on mostly beautifully-manicured inland courses where the wind needs a bit of strength behind it to take an effect, and fairways and even the roughs are watered. Links courses, in contrast, have usually firm terrains, and punishing winds and unlucky bounces are part and parcel..
Els has the course form - he was also runner-up to Nick Faldo at Muirfield way back in 1992. Keep him in mind if you’re going for a punt - but also check on these outsiders, Nicolas Colsaerts, Martin Kaymer and Rickie Fowler. All three have shown a fondness for links golf in the past and have a chance to add golf’s most prized trophy to their collections.