Accuracy is going to be the deciding factor at this week’s Open at Royal St George’s.
Straight shooting will be key as the rough looks very penal.
With that in mind, there are a few players I fancy to do well at Royal St George’s this week.
The first player who springs to mind is Xander Schauffele as he has been so close at the majors already.
He has only played in 17 majors but finished in the top-10 on nine occasions and in the top-five six times.
Xander played last week’s Abrdn Scottish Open to help him acclimatise to the conditions and should be ready for another tilt at the Claret Jug.
Louis Oosthuizen is a big-time major player who always seems to work his way into contention.
The South African won the 2010 Open at St Andrews and has finished second at six majors since then.
It would be no surprise to see him near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday.
Tyrrell Hatton is also in with a shout. He is a proven links player, having won the Dunhill Links on two occasions and he has performed well at The Open in the past.
But if Jon Rahm putts well then I don’t think anyone will be able to stop him.
He didn’t putt well at the Scottish Open and only finished a couple of shorts short.
Jon drives the ball brilliantly and I think he is at the stage where he wins whatever tournament he plays in if he putts well.
He missed three two-foot putts at the Scottish Open, so if he gets the putter going this week then he is going to be the one to watch.
In his pre-Open interview, he revealed he was born with a club foot on his right leg, which is why he has his short, distinctive backswing.
It was very insightful and I’m sure it is very inspiring for any youngster who has gone through something similar to hear Jon talking about that so openly.
I don’t think it is the type of course that will suit a long-hitter. Ben Curtis won at Royal St George’s and he wasn’t particularly long off the tee.
Darren Clarke won the 2011 Open at Sandwich when he took advantage of being on the right side of the draw and played some amazing golf.
It is a shame the field has been a bit diluted with several call-offs due to Covid, including the Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama.
We only have one Scot in the field, but Robert MacIntyre has the game to do well.
He has a good draw as he is playing alongside Xander and Rickie Fowler, which will be an entertaining three-ball to watch.
The Oban man finished top-10 on his Open debut at Royal Portrush in 2019 and hopefully we will see the same again.
It was interesting to read Lee Westwood’s comments about Robert.
He was full of praise for Robert’s game, but also gave him some advice, such as knowing when is the right time to play aggressive golf.
I haven’t played a competitive round with Robert yet, but he has played a few rounds with Lee.
I’m sure Robert will take that advice in the right way.
I always tell the young golfers I work with to not be scared to ask the experienced players for tips.
Robert has already admitted it is an area of his game that he is working on.
He has a plan and this will be something that he is working on for the longer term.
Every golfer has strengths and weaknesses and Robert’s strengths far outweigh any weaknesses.
He is a great player and it would be terrific to see him make his mark at Sandwich over the next few days.
Are we entering a Renaissance period?
The Abrdn Scottish Open seemed to be very well received by the players.
I felt for the team at the Renaissance Club when we were hit by the heavy downpours just a few days before the tournament.
I had played the course a few weeks ago and it was like an old-fashioned links and very fiery.
Then the wet weather came and took the edge off it.
Renaissance is a young golf course and it is improving every year.
Padraig Harrington has come on board as a “player consultant”, who will work with the club’s designer Tom Doak to keep making those improvements.
It was lovely to see fans back at the Scottish Open and it is so easy to host a big crowd at Renaissance because they have so much space.
If the Renaissance are bringing on Padraig and continuing to spend money on the course then it looks like they will be keen to keep the Scottish Open coming back to the venue.
We have tried going around Scotland to different links courses, but perhaps it is time to choose one location and keep making the tournament better every year.