The niggle: Who wins the Open?

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The NCG team decide who will be taking home the Claret Jug...

Steve Carroll: The best week of the golfing year is finally upon us and, if we are going to make this a great Open, then we need to come out at the end of it with a wallet full of cash.

Having already cleaned out the shop at Royal Troon, my bank balance looks like it’s had its own EU referendum and I’m in desperate need of boosting my unstable economy as quickly as possible.

Latest pictures from the Open

I’ve already had a little bit on Dustin Johnson to win but after his price crashed following his US Open/WGC double, I’m looking at some bigger priced horses to get me out of jail.

I’ll have a small each-way punt on Graeme McDowell. He’s a big price after a good week at Castle Stuart and he’s already spent some time up on the Ayrshire coast getting used to the conditions.

It’s hard to ignore Lee Westwood’s each-way potential, not just for his Open record but because he’s been right in the frame in both this year’s Majors and Henrik Stenson’s also flying under the radar. Could this be the week he finally breaks through?

What do you guys think?

Dan Murphy: It’s Sergio’s year. He contended at the US Open, has a PGA Tour win under his belt and possesses the best Open record of anyone in the field over the last 15 years.

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What’s not to like? Yes, I know.

So how about the under-rated Hideki Matsuyama who has finished 6th, 39th and 18th in his three Open starts to date, along with top-seven finishes in the last two Masters. He’s a tasty 50/1 shot.

For a bit of value, what about Gentleman Jim Furyk, who might find a bouncy Troon very much to his liking and nearly sneaked home at Oakmont. He’s available at 80s.

Or if you’re going really crazy, check out Brandon ‘Pebbles’ Stone at 150s. The South African is destined for great things and will break through in the near future. You heard it here first.

SC: It’s been Sergio’s year for a decade…

Craig Middleton: Forget the form book. This is Rickie Fowler’s year I think! it’s got to click one week hasn’t it? what better place to do it than at Troon. I’m also going to stick my neck out and go for old Monty to make the weekend too!

SC: Have you been drinking, Craig?

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CM: For Rickie Fowler or Monty? Monty was tied for 5th after the second round in 2004… if he can recapture that scintilating form who knows

SC: Both. Monty will need a walking stick to get round 72 holes of a Major venue. He’ll be gone at the game by Friday afternoon…

Tom Lenton: I agree with Steve.

DJ has good form at the Open, bar his last 2 rounds at St Andrews last year. He is more dangerous than ever now he has finally won one.

Sergio no chance, I think Westwood could be top European. Rickie Fowler will likely miss the cut.

SC: Some nice shouts. Obviously, because I’ve got one of them.

Westwood will do really well, then he’ll see his name at the top of the leaderboard and have a panic attack…

Jamie Millar: DJ for me. Anyone who hits their driver 360 yards and their 3 iron as long as most people driver always has a chance – and not to mention his current form, which isn’t too shabby.

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Would love to see Sergio win though, got a feeling he will fall short again but he will be near the top guaranteed. Worth an each way.

Fitzpatrick as an outsider for blind Yorkshire loyalty.

TL: Back in the commentary studio Saturday morning for Monty.

SC: All credit to him…

Will Shucksmith: It is his home course – Monty makes the cut (only time I will probably ever agree with you Craig).

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SC: We wish him well…

CM: He made the cut at Chambers Bay just a short year ago, and that was brutal for everyone! He knows it’s his last Open at Troon, so surely he’ll put everything he’s got into it. I say Monty to make the cut!

SC: Moving on…

Mark Townsend: All year I’ve thought of Justin Rose but not sure you can fancy him any more. I did like the strange logic that he was the only player in the world’s top 10 not to win this year but he’s now dropped out of that.

If I had a free £100 bet I would put it on Spieth but at twice the value is Adam Scott.

He’s had his fireworks early in the season and is still bubbling away nicely; 18th at Oakmont and 10th at Firestone. And he’ll like the big and flat greens at Troon.

Each-way Soren Kjeldsen, still on not many people’s radar despite being in the top 50 and was 7th at Augusta. And I’ve backed him this week and I tend to be a week out on most punts.

James Broadhurst: I am going to go for Adam Scott. He has a superb Open record in the last four years – 2, T3, T5, T10.

Monty….no chance.

SC: What did I say, James?

James Savage: I think Henrik Stenson could have a decent tournament.

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Got an overdue win a couple of weeks ago, solid Open record – hasn’t missed a cut since 2007 and has been in the top 3 three times since then.

Branden Grace always seems to contend in majors and has made the cut in each of his five Open appearances.

Both he and Stenson can be backed at around 30/1.

Marc Leishman at 80s seems like a reasonable each way bet for me. Although he’s lacking a bit of form since his play-off defeat at St Andrews last year.

Joe Urquhart: I like Paul Casey. He’s shown glimpses of form this year with a 4th at the Masters in April. He’s back into the top 30 in the world and always seems to bring me my stake back in the each way department! Hoping he can replicate that bit of magic from 2010 at St Andrews.

CM: Marc Leishman always seems to be a name floating around near the top in a Major, so I would agree with you James about him. He came so close last year that might give him the little extra motivation to go on and win it this time.

JS: Why is Fowler going to miss the cut? He won the Scottish Open last year, tied second at Holyake and tied 5th at Royal St Georges.

SC: Absolutely no form might be a start. They don’t give out prizes for missed cuts.

JM: Agree with Steve, plus he’s missed the cut in the last two majors.

JS: What was Zach Johnson’s form going into St Andrews?

TL: 3rd to qualify for the Open, but 14 rounds from 20 in the 60s the four tournaments before screams form. Four of the rounds in the 70s were also at the US Open.

DJ’s form is actually amazing – 1, 1, 5, 3, 12, 28, 4, 3, 14, 4.

Tom Irwin: The system says – Schwartzel. He has won this year, went well at St Andrews, always decent value, has won a major.

Fitzpatrick – Has won this year, still not ‘box office’ so price is sensible at 66-1, 1st Open as a professional but was low amateur making the cut in 2013.

Lowry – Should be among the favourites, shouldn’t he? Won this year, won the Irish Open at County Louth as an amateur, loves the limelight and you can get 40-1.

Willett – I know his putter has gone cold but he is 50-1.

Wood – Open specialist, won this year, lots of value 90-1.

during day four of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on May 29, 2016 in Virginia Water, England.

Christian Maiden: Donald – Rank outsider, late-comer and nice guy.

MT: Johnson, it all seems so obvious now.

CM: I can’t wait for my man Rickie to make the cut comfortably…

JM: Would it be your dream for Fowler and Monty to be paired on the Saturday?

CM: Absolutely.

SC: On that rather difficult image, we’re going to hand it over to you lot at home. Who do you think is going to win the Open?

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