Paul Williams

Paul Williams' Open Championship Tips 2022

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Open Championship Tips 2022

 

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The very best players in world golf are being joined at the Home of Golf this week by those who’ve qualified through the many and varied routes, as 156 hopefuls battle to win the Claret Jug and title of Champion Golfer of the Year in what’s sure to be an enthralling 4 days on the links.

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With a top-class field comes an intriguing betting market, with Rory McIlroy rating as the best-priced 11/1 favourite at the time of writing, followed by the likes of Xander Schauffele (14/1), Jon Rahm (18/1), Scottie Scheffler (18/1), Jordan Spieth (18/1), US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick (18/1) and US PGA champion Justin Thomas (20/1). As ever, there’s a case to be made for almost all of those near the head of the betting in what looks to be a pretty open affair.

Old Course, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland: Designer: Old Tom Morris, 1895; Course Type: Coastal Links; Par: 72; Length: 7,313 yards; Number of Holes Water is in Play: 2; Fairways: Fescue, and Bentgrass; Rough: Fescue, Bentgrass, Sweet Vernal Grass and Crested Dogstail, 1.65″; Greens: Fescue (50%), Brown Top Bentgrass (25%), Poa Annua (10%), Other (15%). Course Scoring Average 2015: 71.71 (-0.29), Difficulty Rank 24 of 52 PGA Tour courses.

Course Overview: The Open course rota system has undoubtedly dealt punters a bonus in 2022 with St Andrews being the host course. The home of the Royal & Ancient, the Old Course is considered by many to be the ‘Home of Golf’ because the sport was first played on the Links at St Andrews in the early 1400s.  Undoubtedly the Old Course is only rivalled by Augusta National when it comes to worldwide recognition. The 17th Road Hole, with its notorious bunker, and the closing 18th which features the Swilcan Bridge and the Valley of Sin, are the most famous closing holes on the planet.

But punters have been dealt a nice hand in 2022 as St Andrews is very much a known quantity – it has hosted the Open Championship a record 29 times – plus it’s the only Open venue to be played annually at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the DP World Tour.

Acquainting oneself with the course won’t be an issue, but the 7,313 yard, Par 72 features wide, shared fairways, with 7 shared green complexes. St Andrews is a flat piece of links property and the course features no rough between many double fairways. Naturally green complexes are extremely large, slow by Major Championship standards, and feature a predominant Fescue and Bentgrass mix, with a little Poa Annua thrown in as well.

The Old Course’s main defence is deep and numerous bunkers – there are 112 of them – plus plenty of deep natural grasses and gorse bushes which line many of the fairways. Remember Paul Casey’s errant drive on the 12th in 2010 which cost him any chance of challenging Louis Oosthuizen? The real difficultly of this course though is the way in which the natural contours of the land make green approaches and the green complexes themselves extremely undulating in places. The course is clearly scoreable in normal playing conditions, but as ever with links golf, bad weather can turn the Old Course into an entirely different and very technical beast.

I’ll leave it to Tiger Woods to describe the key attributes required to win on the Old Course, with his comments taken from a 2010 pre-tournament press conference: “The Old Course requires placement. You really have to place the ball correctly. Just because it’s wide off the tee doesn’t mean you can blow it all over the place. You have to hit the ball in the correct spots. You’re also going to have some real long putts here no matter how you hit it, and you just have to get down in two. So many times you can three-putt, you can go around here and hit 18 greens and shoot a number, a high number, because you’re just so far away from the hole. And if the wind blows, hitting a wedge 30, 40, 50 feet happens a lot. The two years that I’ve played well here, I’ve lag putted beautifully and I’ve also hit the ball in the right spots.

For more quotes from recent St Andrews-hosted Open Championships, read Steve Bamford’s pre-event trends article here.

open championship tips

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s Open Championship that will help to shape a view on players who traditionally play well at this event: Current Form | Tournament Form | Dunhill Links Form | First Round Leader Stats | Combined Stats | Recent Majors Stats.

Predictor Model: Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.

Winners & Prices: 2021: Collin Morikawa, 40/1; 2019:, Shane Lowry: 70/1; 2018: Francesco Molinari, 33/1; 2017: Jordan Spieth, 16/1; 2016: Henrik Stenson, 33/1; 2015: Zach Johnson, 110/1; 2014: Rory McIlroy, 18/1; 2013, Phil Mickelson, 20/1; 2012: Ernie Els, 45/1; 2011: Darren Clarke, 200/1; 2010: Louis Oosthuizen, 250/1.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for the area is here.

The weather pattern that we saw at Renaissance Club will continue into this week’s Open Championship with very similar conditions expected this week in Fife. A moderate breeze of between 10-20mph is expected to accompany sunny spells and temperatures reaching the low 70s Fahrenheit in the afternoons.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Let’s take the final skill statistics from Tiger Woods, Louis Oosthuizen and Zach Johnson across their 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015 triumphs at St Andrews:

  • 2015, Zach Johnson (-15). 290 yards (60th), 85.9% fairways (3rd), 76.4% greens in regulation (40th), 76.5% scrambling (2nd), 1.75 putts per GIR (8th).
  • 2010, Louis Oosthuizen (-16). 319 yards (4th), 85.9% fairways (1st), 83.3% greens in regulation (9th), 44.2% scrambling (15th), 1.65 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2005, Tiger Woods (-14). 342 yards (1st), 73.4% fairways (9th), 75.0% greens in regulation (53rd), 61.1% scrambling (10th), 1.76 putts per GIR (7th).
  • 2000, Tiger Woods (-19). 320 yards (1st), 79.7% fairways (7th), 91.7% greens in regulation (1st), 49.8% scrambling (7th), 1.67 putts per GIR (7th).

A number of key angles jump out from these statistics. Firstly, accurate but not necessarily long driving is a must. Woods and Oosthuizen topped the Total Driving category across all 3 of their triumphs; Zach Johnson was 60th for Driving Distance but 3rd for Driving Accuracy, meaning he still ranked 19th for Total Driving.

Expanding on this point, Lee Westwood (2nd) and Paul Casey (T3) in 2010, plus Marc Leishman (2nd) and Louis Oosthuizen (2nd) in 2015, all finished in the top 7 for Total Driving that week.

Top-level ball striking was also essential prior to Johnson’s 2015 win, with Woods ranking 1st and 6th in 2000 and 2005 respectively, and Oosthuizen ranking 1st in 2010. With huge greens and deep bunkers in play, missing greens is a real negative with the Old Course being one of the hardest scrambling courses in professional golf.

Zach Johnson though changed the game in 2015, ranking only 40th for Greens in Regulation and 34th for Ball Striking when lifting the Claret jug. Naturally top-level putting was also a feature of their successes, but you’d expect nothing else at a Major Championship.

Dunhill Links Form: The benefit of playing at St Andrews, particularly for DP World Tour regulars, is that the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship played each autumn uses the Old Course as part of the 3-course rotation. How much relevance should be placed on that pro-am event is debatable, particularly given that only 2 rounds are actually played at St Andrews, however there’s an angle to be explored nevertheless.

Neither Zach Johnson nor Tiger Woods has played the Dunhill Links, however Louis Oosthuizen had played the event 6 times prior to his runaway Open Championship success in 2010. An event form line of 44/MC/MC/MC/40/MC hardly inspired though.

For reference, Dunhill Links form for those players in this week’s field who’ve played there is available here.

Strokes Gained: From a Strokes Gained perspective, we have some limited stats based on the 2 rounds played at the Dunhill Links in 2019 and 2021 only. Both winners excelled with their SG Approach and SG Tee to Green games, with Perez topping SG Off the Tee too. The pair recorded the following ranks:

  • 2021, Danny Willett: T: 33rd; A: 5th; T2G: 7th; ATG: 14th; P: 9th
  • 2019, Victor Perez: T: 1st; A: 1st, T2G: 1st, ATG: 38th; P: 37th

Key: T: SG Off the Tee; A; SG Approach; T2G: SG Tee to Green; ATG: SG Around the Green; P: SG Putting.

There are also a number of identifiable trends from the past few Open Championship winners that are worth considering this week:

Recent Form: Going back to the Open held here at St Andrews in 2010, each of the 11 players who’ve lifted the Claret Jug have had some contending form in the recent past. Each of the winners had a top-3 finish or better in their last 7 starts, and if you take the past 5 Open victors in isolation, each of them had a win or 2nd place finish in one of their past 3 outings.

Last 10 event form of Open Championship winners since 2010 reads as follows (most recent result on the right):

  • 2021, Collin Morikawa: 1/41/56/18/7/8/14/2/4/71
  • 2019, Shane Lowry: 62/MC/MC/24/MC/3/8/2/28/34
  • 2018, Francesco Molinari: 17/20/49/16/MC/1/2/25/1/2
  • 2017, Jordan Spieth: 12/30/MC/11/MC/MC/2/13/35/1
  • 2016, Henrik Stenson: 11/3/2/24/MC/MC/4/WD/1/13
  • 2015, Zach Johnson: 20/9/MC/17/13/19/5/72/6/3
  • 2014: Rory McIlroy: 25/7/8/8/6/1/15/23/MC/14
  • 2013: Phil Mickelson: 3/MC/16/54/3/MC/2/2/MC/1
  • 2012: Ernie Els: 4/12/MC/2/MC/41/7/58/9/52
  • 2011: Darren Clarke: 12/48/MC/77/1/45/63/46/MC/66
  • 2010: Louis Oosthuizen: 3/44/2/1/MC/MC/21/20/MC/MC

For current form stats for this week’s field click here.

2022 Victory: Looking back to the start of the century, 15 of the 21 Open Championship winners had already won an event of some description in that calendar year to date.

For reference they were: Tiger Woods (00, 05, 06), Ernie Els (02), Todd Hamilton (04), Padraig Harrington (07), Louis Oosthuizen (10), Darren Clarke (11), Phil Mickelson (13), Rory McIlroy (14), Henrik Stenson (16), Jordan Spieth (17), Francesco Molinari (18), Shane Lowry (19) and Collin Morikawa (21).

In total, 43 players in this week’s field fulfil the criteria – listed by OWGR as of 9/7/22:

  • Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Cameron Smith, Patrick Cantlay, Viktor Hovland, Sam Burns, Matt Fitzpatrick, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Billy Horschel, Joaquin Niemann, Max Homa, Thomas Pieters, Harold Varner III, K.H. Lee, Tom Hoge, Ryan Fox, Sepp Straka, J.T. Poston, Luke List, Joohyung Kim, Adrian Meronk, Adri Arnaus, Pablo Larrazabal, Kazuki Higa, Shaun Norris, Sam Horsfield, Shugo Imahira, Scott Vincent, Victor Perez, Nicolai Hojgaard, Sadom Kaewkanjana, Yuto Katsuragawa, Haotong Li, Sihwan Kim, Anthony Quayle, Minkyu Kim, Jediah Morgan, Dimi Papadatos and Trey Mullinax.

Open Championship Record: Positive previous Open Championship performances have also been a factor when you look through the history of the most recent winners of golf’s oldest Major.

9 of the last 11 Open Champions had all previously secured at least a top-10 in this event in their careers – the exception to that rule being Louis Oosthuizen’s win at St Andrews in 2010 and Collin Morikawa who won at Royal St George’s on debut last year:

  • 2021, Collin Morikawa: Debut
  • 2019, Shane Lowry: 37/32/9/MC/MC/MC/MC
  • 2018, Francesco Molinari: MC/13/MC/MC/39/9/15/40/36/MC
  • 2017, Jordan Spieth: 44/36/4/30
  • 2016, Henrik Stenson: MC/34/48/MC/3/13/3/68/2/39/40
  • 2015, Zach Johnson: MC/MC/MC/20/51/47/76/16/9/6/47
  • 2014: Rory McIlroy: 42/47/3/25/60/MC
  • 2013: Phil Mickelson: 41/24/76/MC/11/30/66/59/3/60/22/MC/19/48/2/MC
  • 2012: Ernie Els: 2/10/28/24/2/3/1/18/2/34/3/4/7/8/MC/MC
  • 2011: Darren Clarke: 11/2/MC/30/7/3/37/59/11/15/MC/MC/52/44
  • 2010: Louis Oosthuizen: MC/MC/MC

For event history stats for this week’s field click here.

Recent Majors Form: One aspect that we’ve discussed regularly on the Golf Betting System Podcast has been the growing and consistent trend that recent Major champions have a strong finish in the Major immediately prior to their success. To put this into context, here’s the previous Major finish of the past 9 Major winners:

Previous Major Finish

PlayerMajor VictoryPrevious Major Finish
Matt Fitzpatrick2022 US Open5th (2022 US PGA)
Justin Thomas2022 US PGA8th (2022 Masters)
Scottish Scheffler2022 Masters8th (2021 Open)
Collin Morikawa2021 Open4th (2021 US Open)
John Rahm2021 US Open8th (2021 US PGA)
Phil Mickelson2021 US PGA21st (2021 Masters)
Hideki Matsuyama2021 Masters13th (2020 Masters)
Dustin Johnson2020 Masters6th (2020 US Open)
Bryson DeChambeau2020 US Open4th (2020 US PGA)

 

Collin Morikawa is next on the list and he didn’t play the 2019 Open Championship which was the last Major prior to the Covid schedule interruptions, however prior to that he’d finished 35th at the 2019 US Open. Shane Lowry (28th), Gary Woodland (8th), Brooks Koepka (2nd) and Tiger Woods (2nd) continue the trend; in fact you need to go all the way back to Justin Thomas’s 2017 US PGA Championship win before you find a player who missed the cut on his last Major played chronologically.

Whether this trend continues into this week’s Open remains to be seen, however there’s a certain logic to the argument that a contending, or semi-contending performance at the prior Major gives players the confidence and belief that they can push on and win the next time the opportunity arises.

OWGR Ranking Of Winners: It’s also interesting to note that only two players since 2000 have won The Open whilst ranking outside of the world’s top-55 when entering this week: Ben Curtis in 2003 and Darren Clarke in 2011 were the two to achieve this:

Open Championship OWGR Analysis

YearOpen Championship WinnerOWGR Ranking
2021Collin Morikawa4th
2019Shane Lowry33rd
2018Francesco Molinari15th
2017Jordan Spieth3rd
2016Henrik Stenson6th
2015Zach Johnson25th
2014Rory McIlroy8th
2013Phil Mickelson6th
2012Ernie Els40th
2011Darren Clarke111th
2010Louis Oosthuizen54th
2009Stewart Cink33rd
2008Padraig Harrington14th
2007Padraig Harrington10th
2006Tiger Woods1st
2005Tiger Woods1st
2004Todd Hamilton55th
2003Ben Curtis200th
2002Ernie Els3rd
2001David Duval7th
2000Tiger Woods1st

 

St Andrews has hosted The Open on 29 previous occasions and in anything but the toughest of conditions it tends to play as one of the more scoreable tracks on the rota. Since the start of the millennium, winning totals here of -19 (Woods, 2000), -14 (Woods, 2005), -16 (Oosthuizen, 2010), and -15 (Zach Johnson, 2015) tells us that St Andrews doesn’t present the same challenges to that of some other Open venues, unless the weather intervenes that is of course.

What does this mean? Well, for me firmer, tougher conditions would swing the pendulum towards the more experienced veterans and links specialists, whereas softer conditions might favour a more ‘modern’ style of golfer.

Second-guessing seaside conditions can be a dangerous game to play, however the forecast does seem fairly stable at the time of writing, if a little breezy, and I’m not expecting a Darren Clarke-style tournament and result. All of that said, to lift the Claret Jug a player will also need to demonstrate masses of guile and determination coming down the stretch on Sunday under the most intense of pressure.

My Open Championship Tips Are As Follows:

Xander Schauffele 5pts Win 14/1 with William Hill

If you listened to our research podcast then will know that a crude cutting of the field based on the key factors that I’ve detailed in the preamble leaves just 6 players who tick every box: Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama.

The winner coming from those half dozen wouldn’t be a shock, yet in Scheffler we’ve seen a dip from his mercurial best form of the early season; in Rory we’ve seen good positions squandered of late on the biggest stage; in Rahm we’re still seeing a level of anger where serenity is preferred at an Open; in Spieth we’re seeing too many mistakes interspersed with brilliance; and in Hideki there’s the omnipresent risk of an injury resurfacing.

The question therefore is not so much shall I back Xander Schauffele to win his maiden Major Championship this week at St Andrews, but how can I possibly not back him?

Recent history has proven that the Champion Golfer of the Year, the title bestowed on whoever lifts the Claret Jug on Sunday, is often one of the most in-form players in the field. Hardly a revelation I wholeheartedly agree, however in a game where we’re often trying to find that micro trend, correlation or signal that might suggest that a player will perform well, or outperform his odds, perhaps we just need to accept that players that are blindingly obvious need to be supported.

As the Californian worked his way into contention at last week’s Scottish Open, punters have reacted to drive his price down to its current level, however Xander has long been a player that the bookies respect at Major Championship and in truth 14/1 about a player who’s got his best chance to date this week of breaking through at Major level isn’t unpalatable. 20/1 at The Masters, 22/1 at the US PGA Championship and 22/1 at the US Open when in plainly worse form than currently puts his odds this week into context.

A win at the Travelers at the end of June put to bed the thin argument that the 28 year-old couldn’t win a regular-field PGA Tour event, and he followed that up with victory at the JP McManus Pro-Am before warming up beautifully at Renaissance last week in what was much more of a test than in previous iterations. Winning the Scottish Open and Open Championship in consecutive weeks was a feat that Phil Mickelson achieved back in 2013 and seeing Schauffele do the same here this week isn’t out of the question.

14th at the US Open last month ticks the recent Major performance box; 2nd at the 2018 Open at Carnoustie is the event form that we’re looking for, and given that Augusta National form is also a positive when it comes to St Andrews, 2nd and 3rd there in 2019 and 2021 respectively pretty much completes the argument for the new World Number 5. RESULT: T15

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Louis Oosthuizen 1.5pts EW 40/1 (12EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

With Schauffele a strong fancy at the top of the market, I’ll back him up with a trio of each-way fancies who could return a profit given the extended each-way terms on offer this week. If you like 3-figure chances then Steve Bamford has picked his 4 favourite longshots here.

First up, Louis Oosthuizen appeals at the Home of Golf – the scene of his breakthrough Major triumph in 2010 and where he came within a play-off of winning for a second time in 2015. 6th in between times at the 2014 Dunhill Links adds a little more to the argument that he could go well this week, despite a somewhat indifferent record in that event otherwise. This is a Major though, and given what we know about the South African’s desire to play a more selective schedule with his LIV involvement, I suspect that he’ll be relishing his return to St Andrews.

3rd at last year’s Open completed a mightily impressive 2021 Majors form line of 26th at The Masters, 2nd at the US PGA Championship and 2nd at the US Open, and in truth he can count himself a little unlucky not to have converted at least one of those efforts into a second Major title. 3 further runner-up finishes at the Majors over the years to add to his aforementioned play-off defeat to Zach Johnson here the last time we visited for The Open adds to the argument that his game’s made for the biggest of events.

2022 hasn’t been anywhere near as impressive for the 39 year-old with 60th at the US PGA Championship his best effort in the 3 Majors thus far, however 10th at Centurion for his LIV debut last month, 8th at the BMW International Open on the DP World Tour, and 5th last time out at the LIV Portland event suggest that he’s fit and healthy, plus is playing some tidy golf at present. RESULT: MC

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Tony Finau 1pt EW 50/1 (10EW, 1/5) with Betfred

In addition to Oosthuizen, Tony Finau at 50/1 at a Major Championship shouldn’t be ignored from an each-way perspective given that the 32 year-old has racked up 10 top-10 finishes from just 25 Major starts, included in which is a top-5 finish in each of the 4 different Majors.

2022 hasn’t been the Utah man’s best year, particular at the Majors, with 35th, 30th and a Missed Cut to his name, and to that extent he fails the last Major performance criteria in the preamble, however seeing him feature here wouldn’t surprise me given that his SG Tee to Green game (9th for the PGA Tour season to date) is a good fit for St Andrews and he’s finished in the top 10 here twice from 2 starts at the Dunhill Links in both 2018 and 2019.

5 starts at The Open have produced finishes of 18/27/9/3/15 to reinforce the fact that he can readily adapt his game to links golf, and 3 top-4 finishes in his last 5 regular PGA Tour events suggests that he’s not far from top form at the moment. 13th on his last start at The Travelers saw his long game in decent shape with top-10 performances in both the SG Approach and SG Tee to Green categories, and we’ve even seen a spark with the putter in recent times with 5th for SG Putting at the Canadian Open his best in-field ranking on that statistic for nearly 2 years. A solid each-way bet in my view. RESULT: T28

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Seamus Power 1pt EW 100/1 (12EW, 1/5) with Betfair Sportsbook

Finally, I’ll take a punt on Seamus Power who continues to improve and impress as he gathers more experience on both the PGA Tour and at the Majors.

At the age of 35, the Irishman is undoubtedly a late developer when it comes to top-level golf with many of his peers a decade or so younger than him, however everyone’s path is different and the progress he’s made over the past year has been impressive.

Languishing outside the top 400 in the world as recently as May 2021, Power recorded top-10 finishes at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Rocket Mortgage Classic, John Deere Classic and RSM Classic last year, as well as capturing his maiden PGA Tour title at the Barbasol Championship which was last year’s alternate event to The Open to complete what was undoubtedly a breakthrough season.

70th in the OWGR to close the year has progressed to a career-best 36th right now and with that the door has opened to Majors and WGCs, and he’s clearly not needed a second invitation when it’s come to performing on those loftiest of stages.

A quarter-final appearance on debut at the WGC Match Play was noteworthy, however 27th at The Masters, 9th at the US PGA Championship and 12th at the US Open point to a player who’s got the game for golf at the highest level.

Scratch beneath the surface of those last 2 Major efforts and you’ll find him on the tougher side of the draw on both occasions; not insurmountable given what we saw from Justin Thomas and Matt Fitzpatrick who prevailed, but certainly a hindrance and perhaps it will be third time lucky this week if there is any tee time bias as he makes his Open Championship debut.

30th at the Irish Open was a solid enough warm-up for this on home soil – he shot 3 rounds of 68, only to be let down by a Saturday 77, otherwise he’d have been much closer to Adrian Meronk’s winning total and much shorter odds here this week – and with a week’s preparation under his belt and a wealth of links experience from his formative years, he could outperform his price this week in my view. RESULT: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 11:40BST 11.7.22 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.