Six writers, six simple questions. Dan Murphy, Alex Perry, Mark Townsend, James Savage, Steve Carroll and Harvey Jamison put their heads together for NCG’s Open preview…
What will be the main talking point of the 2018 Open?
Alex: During the tournament it will all be about the course, but the tournament will be forever remembered as the one where Tiger Woods broke his major drought that sparked him into going on and beating Jack’s 18.
Harvey: There is no need to bring out the driver, and with a new 2-iron, cranked down to 17 degrees, there will be plenty of fairways for the former World No. 1. Big Cat will feast this week.
James: How fast and firm the course is. How players are hitting irons 300 yards. How the course is set up for a fun and fair test rather than a circus like at the US Open.
Steve: It will be how far the ball is going, won’t it? We’ve already seen some crazy drives in practice, because of the scorched conditions, and we’ll witness long irons going driver distance if there isn’t any rain.
Dan: I think that some players are going to get very cross by their inability to master the extreme links conditions. I’m not saying you can’t prosper this week by unleashing drivers at every opportunity but it will surely require a calculated, intelligent assault.
Mark: Going by the last two Opens here you’d have to say the 18th. But that’s boring and predictable – so let’s go with an oldie making a run at it.
What are you most looking forward to at the 2018 Open?
James: Surely it’s time for an English winner. It will be great to see a couple of our boys in the mix on Sunday afternoon. Another American major victory will be hard to take.
Alex: Unless it’s Tiger Woods.
Mark: The champion’s press conference which is always the highlight of every year. Twenty minutes of hearing about their self-doubt and subsequent beaming happinesses.
Steve: Seeing how the players handle the hardest finish in championship golf. I look forward to seeing the fear in their eyes on the 18th tee!
Dan: I want to see the most skilful players showing us how to do things like hit little fades to counter crosswinds and bounce 100-yard pitches halfway to the flag.
Harvey: The fans. It’s a little-known fact The Open boasts the best spectators in the world. Not patrons but die-hard, knowledgeable and respecting fans that do the oldest major in the world the greatest justice.
Which player will be the surprise flop?
Dan: Time to make a fool of myself – but I don’t think this is going to be DJ’s week. I just don’t think the conditions play into his hands. Get on him now at 12/1.
Mark: I can never picture DJ winning an Open and certainly not one like this.
James: So difficult to say on a course that could be very unpredictable. I’m going to say Johnson too, on the grounds he’ll end up in too many bunkers.
Steve: I’ve a feeling the Champion Golfer of the Year might struggle if he can’t sort his putting woes out soon.
Alex: It’s Spieth for me too, unfortunately.
Harvey: Winless so far this year – before each of his last major triumphs Spieth has had two wins – and he is describing his game as ‘artistic’ this week.
That’s who we don’t think will do well, but who do we think will do well? Our Open preview continues on the next page…