The focus of the sporting world will shift from Rio to Liverpool this week. No, not to witness the impending departure of a star but flawed striker from Anfield to the Nou Camp, but to focus on the action from Royal Liverpool Golf Club, or Hoylake as it is better known, where the Open Championship gets underway on Thursday.
The venue last hosted the event back in 2006, when Tiger Woods triumphed and secured back-to-back Claret Jugs in the process. As has been well publicised, a lot has changed since then for Mr Woods. His aura of domination is no longer apparent, 2008 being the year when he lasted tasted a Major success.
To put it in context from a bookmaking standpoint, TW enters this week a 16/1 shot. Back in 2006, he wouldn’t have been much greater than those odds to win all four Majors in the one year.
The title of favourite now goes to Rory McIlroy. Having grown up playing links golf, Co Down’s own should relish this unique challenge. However, apart from a never-threatening tied-3rd finish in 2010, his overall Open record suggests otherwise.
‘Rors’ is also currently having to deal with a bout of ‘seconditis’, but not the normal kind. He cannot seem to string four good rounds together, his second one being the problem. He is ranked 1st for round one scoring on the tour this year, but 181st for his Friday effort. Last Thursday in Scotland, he shot a course record 64. The following day? Fourteen strokes higher.
Those looking for a wager would be advised to keep stakes low. The Open Championship has a habit of throwing up surprise winners, such as unknowns, Ben Curtis and Todd Hamilton, in the last decade. Even Darren Clarke’s win in 2011 came out of the blue. The Ulster man has not even registered a top-10 finish since.
The three against the field are Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler. Each, however, will only carry a few Inside Track quid, for the reason outlined above and a loss of confidence, caused by a succession of losing bets on football, dogs and horses.
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