Venue: Carnoustie, Scotland
Date: July 19-22, 2018
Course stats: Par 71; 7,402 yards
Purse: $10.25 million (£7.7m)
Defending champion: Jordan Spieth (-12)
The Open preview
The oldest of the four major championships heads back to Carnoustie for the first time since 2007 when Padraig Harrington won his first Open.
It’s a venue that has brought terrific drama – 11 years ago, Sergio Garcia had an eight-foot putt for par on the 18th to win. His effort burned the left edge, and then went on to lose a playoff to Harrington.
And who can forget the 1999 Open, when Jean van de Velde needed only a double-bogey at the 18th to win. Several visits to the thick rough, Barry Burn and the greenside bunker meant he’d take a triple-bogey and have to playoff against Paul Lawrie and Justin Leonard, with the Scot coming out on top.
The week ahead promises to be equally as thrilling. A stretch of fine weather across Britain has the fairways of Carnoustie well and truly baked. The golf course will be playing firm and fast – just how an Open Championship should be played.
The Open betting tips
I’m sensing a week of unpredictability, perhaps with a few big surprises along the way. Look back at the history of this great championship, and you’ll see that among the star winners – Woods, Nicklaus, Palmer, Watson, Faldo, Ballesteros – there have been monumental shock winners. Think Ben Curtis, Todd Hamilton, Stewart Cink and Darren Clarke.
It goes without saying that the market leaders this week all have a good chance of winning – after all, these are the best players in the world and they are ranked where they are because of their ability to win the biggest events in the sport. But with Carnoustie parched, driver will rarely be needed off the tee, so perhaps their ability to overpower golf courses like they do in the States will be negated.
As a result, I’m going to leave the favourites alone and, for my first pick – while neither would represent a surprise winner – it’s a straight shootout between Tommy Fleetwood and Alex Noren. Both are hugely prolific winners on the European Tour and both hold massive appeal. In Fleetwood, you have a supreme ball-striker who holds the course record at Carnoustie – although that did come in the Alfred Dunhill Links, played in the autumn when conditions were far more different than the players will face this week. The current Race to Dubai winner holds an ever-improving major championship record having gone close at the U.S. Open in both of the last two renewals, but he’s missed three Open cuts in four attempts, finishing 27th last year when well fancied at his home course of Royal Birkdale.
And then you have Noren, who enters the week fresh off a win at the Open de France and has won four of his 10 European Tour titles in Britain. He’ll openly admit that his major record is nowhere near good enough, but his record at the Open in particular is promising. In seven appearances, he’s finished inside the top-10 twice as well as securing a top-20 spot in his Open debut ten years ago. Compared to Fleetwood, Noren is a much better and a more consistent putter, while holding one of the finest short games on the planet, which will surely come into play here at Carnoustie. At 33/1, Noren is a much bigger price than Fleetwood, and is duly given the nod.
Those are Keel’s top tips – but where does our tipster feel you can really make some money. Find out on the next page…