You know when you go to the pub with your mates and they’ve got their heads stuck in their phones the whole time? Well maybe you should be more interesting.

I’m only joking – it happens to the best of us.

At least 50 per cent of the chat in my local is about betting. Two good friends of mine – let’s call them Dave and Liam, for they are their names – love a bet. But it isn’t always about having a fiver on a 3-0 home win. It’s things like “I’ve got 10p on Cristiano Ronaldo to score a hat-trick and then take his shirt off to reveal a tattoo of a goat across his chest.”

Yeah, those types.

Now, Dave and Liam aren’t really golfer types. So when it comes to putting a few quid on a major, my inbox is filled with questions like “who should I back?” and “has Tiger Woods been spotted near any tattoo parlours recently?”

And this week is no different.

I don’t really know why they ask me, to be honest. They live in the same world as Ben Coley, Dave Tindall, and Matt Cooper. I’m not even the best person to ask at NCG. That would be Steve Carroll, or Dan Murphy, or Mark Townsend, or Keel Timmins.

But I do like a little flutter on the golf – and I’ve been rather successful, too.

I had a tenner on Bubba Watson at 80/1 to win the 2012 Masters. Though admittedly my then girlfriend picked him because, quote, “he has a funny name”.  I also had a tenner on Adam Scott in 2013 at 30/1 among a few other smaller wins, so I would say I am in profit in six or seven years betting on the majors.

But for the first time going into a major I am completely stumped. I have no idea. And it almost feels like the real experts are, too.

This lengthy heatwave of the last few weeks have left Carnoustie an odd browny-yellow colour not too dissimilar to the Open logo. It’s the most burnt I’ve seen an Open course since Muirfield in ’13. And the ball really can do anything.

I can’t see anyone needing to hit the driver this week. Just to give you a flavour: Woods said he hit his 3-iron 333 yards down 18 during a practice round on Monday, while Justin Thomas said said he hit a 5-iron 305 yards on the very same hole. Dustin Johnson, meanwhile, says he hit 7-iron off the tee at the par-4 3rd.

Everyone I’ve spoken to around Carnoustie, whether it is fellow media or fans or taxi drivers or Indian restaurant owners, say they just can’t pick a winner and it’s the most level playing field they can remember at an Open Championship. Especially if the weather stays as calm as it has been in the run-up.

So Dave and Liam, if you’re reading, I just don’t know, OK?

For what it’s worth, I’ve backed two links experts with an intimate knowledge of this golf course.

Buy me a pint and I’ll tell you…

USA away

I had a quick chat with Henrik Stenson ahead of Carnoustie. It was mainly about the Ryder Cup, but I nipped in a couple of questions about The Open.

Since Stenson’s victory at Troon two years ago, Sergio Garcia is the only non-American player to win a major. But the Swede isn’t worried.

“They made a transition a couple of years ago and they’ve got a lot of strong new players coming on the scene,” he told me. “But it’s been back and forth. Back in the day when Padraig won two British Opens and a PGA, at that point it was pretty weak on the major scene for European golfers and then we went on to clinch a few through G-Mac and Rory, Justin, myself and Danny Willett.

“It comes and goes. It’s just the way it is.”

So who would Stenson back to end the US domination of majors this week?

“It’s hard not to look at the young players who have cemented their spot on the Ryder Cup team but yet to win a major: Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton.

“But this is The Open, if we had all the lottery numbers in advance it’d be pretty easy.”

I know, Henrik, we’ve been over this.

Ball boy

For goodness sake, Rory…

Phil doing Phil things

Just Phil Mickelson flopping a golf ball over coach Gary Evans from about three feet away.

More importantly, how the hell did he get it to stop like that?

Ask a confusing question

It’s always worth having a read through the transcripts from player’s pre-tournament press conferences. It throws out a few gems…

I also noted that roughly 99.9 per cent of Johnson’s answers began with “Yeah, I mean…”

Moore of this please

Conor Moore is quickly becoming a time-honoured tradition in major championship week. Enjoy…

Golf in Scotland > Anywhere else

It would be rude to come all this way and not find somewhere to go and play golf, so my colleague Dan and I drove to the other end of Aberdeenshire to play Duff House Royal, a stunning parkland alongside the estuary that separates the towns of Macduff and Banff.

We then scuttled down the coast to play Peterhead, the 18th oldest golf course in the world and just about the truest form of links golf you can find.

Going from a luscious parkland to rugged links in such a short space of time made us feel like we’d gone from the John Deere Classic to The Open. I now have an added appreciation for Zach Johnson’s win at St Andrews in 2015…

On Tuesday, equipment editor James Savage and I nipped around Trump International Golf Links…

A stunning course on a sumptuous piece of land – but it’s not really links golf is it? But it is definitely my favourite course owned by someone who will be remembered in the history books as responsible for World War III.

And finally…

It really doesn’t matter, guys.

Enjoy the 147th Open Championship everyone. And fingers crossed Tiger Woods or Matthew Southgate get over the line.


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