Can 2017 be the Year of the Tiger once again as the British Open golf championships heat up?

This year’s British Open is set to be one of the most hotly-fought golf competitions for years. SAM BROOKSBANK studies the form and looks at the odds.

With its strong  winds and deep roughs, wherever the British Open is played it is always regarded as the toughest tournament in golf.  And the one golfers most desire to win.

This year with the return of Tiger Woods from injury who looks more determined to break Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major titles, this could be the most competitive tournament we have seen for years.

Royal Birkdale is the venue for this year’s Open Championship for the tenth time and will take place between the 16th and the 23rd July

Not only with the return of Tiger, there is a plethora of major winners in the line-up for this year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. We have teamed up with Chris Stratford, golf writer for the Yorkshire Post and we are going to look at SEVEN big contenders for the claret jug and their odds of winning the championship, starting with last year’s winner Henrik Stenson:

Henrik Stenson is coming off the back off his best season ever in 2016 after winning the Open at Royal Troon, winning a silver medal at the Rio Olympics narrowly missing out to Justin Rose and winning his second Race to Dubai title. And on top of being one of the main men in Europe’s Ryder Cup team, Stenson won the European Tour golfer of the year.  The good form has continued in to 2017 where he just missed out on winning the Dubai Desert Classic to Sergio Garcia finishing in second place.

“As the defending champion, the Swede will have to deal with the intense media spotlight that goes with the position, but he is one of the players who embraces and enjoys such attention rather than wilting under its glare. Only seven men have won successive opens since the Second World War, but Stenson would be a good bet to make it eight.” ODDS: 16/1

Phil Mickelson showed us that he’s still got it at last years’ Open Championship missing out on his third Claret Jug to Henrik Stenson in what has been claimed the most exciting final day at the Open ever.  Not to forget Mickelson tamed the Royal Troon course on the opening day in 2016 with a superb round of 63.  He may not be playing as much golf on the PGA Tour, but when the majors rolls in to town, he will always there and about on the leader board.

“The five-time major winner will be 47 when he tees it up at Royal Birkdale. However, he showed last year in his remarkable but ultimately unsuccessful final-round battle at Royal Troon with eventual winner Henrik Stenson that he still has both the desire and skill to win another major. Do not rule him out.” ODDS: 33/1

Rory McIlroy is hoping to carry on the form he showed at the end of last year where he won the Deustche Bank Championship and The Tour Championship in the Fedex Cup playoffs, to win the Fedex Cup outright.  If Rory can stay fit, and produce some of the golf he played at the Ryder Cup in Hazeltine then McIlroy will be up with the contenders, as he aims to win the fifth major tournament of his career.

“The Northern Irishman’s only Open win to date came at nearby Hoylake, after which he thanked the locals for getting behind ‘a Manchester United fan like myself’. He may need more than just local backing, be they Liverpool fans, Everton fans or otherwise, as he continues to be troubled by a back problem.” ODDS: 10/1

Dustin Johnson started 2016 in great form, finishing in the top ten 6 times in his first 10 events. DJ is coming off the back of his best season in golf.  Winning twice on the PGA tour and also winning the US Open at Oakmont by three strokes, after all the controversy whether he had addressed the ball or not when it moved slightly on a green.  His form in major tournaments is nothing short of fantastic, finishing in the Top ten twelve times since the start of his career in 2007.  On top of it all he was the PGA Tour Player of the year and PGA Tour money leader in 2016 as well.  He has hit his stride early this year by claiming the world number 1.

“You get the feeling that the only obstacle that stands in Dustin Johnson’s path to becoming a multiple major winner is himself. As enormously gifted as he is enormously long off the tee, his Achilles heel could be that he is so chilled that sometimes it appears, to the outsider at least, that winning and losing are pretty much the same to him.” ODDS: 9/1

Tiger Woods may be coming back from injury but his lack of golf recently doesn’t make him any less of a contender for this year’s claret jug. The 14 time major winner is desperate to beat Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major tournament wins to become the greatest golfer of all time. However the air of invincibility of Tiger has gone missing over the past few years.  With injury and being in the middle of changing his swing, we didn’t see Tiger in 2016 until December when he made his comeback at the Hero World Challenge where he finished a respectable 15th place.  However 2017 hasn’t got off to the best start when he missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open, and said that he suffered from back spasms after his first round. Fading away or not, you never right off Tiger Woods.

“It is difficult to see him teeing it up at Royal Birkdale, let alone challenging for the title, given the back problems that have meant he did not even make the cut in comeback events, plus the psychological damage this will have inflicted on a man who seems destined to remain four majors short of Jack Nicklaus’s record tally of 18.” ODDS: 40/1

Jason Day was sometimes seen as the nearly man finishing in the top five on six occasions before finally winning the US PGA Championship in 2015 at Whistling Straits, which is a notoriously difficult golf course to win on, which should stand him in good stead going in to the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in Southport this year.  He has been the runner up on three different occasions in Major tournament golf, and even though he has been dethroned as world number 1 there is no doubt that he will be up there again come Sunday July 23rd.

“In an era when golfers place more focus on fitness than ever before it seems ironic to talk about yet another golfer’s prospects of Open glory being a hostage to a back injury, but this – as with McIlroy and Woods – is also the case with Day. He has not dominated in the way his 2015 US PGA victory hinted that he would.” ODDS: 10/1

Jordan Spieth is the upcoming star of world golf.  The young Texan burst on to the scene in 2014 as a rookie and by 2015 he won the first two majors of the year, running away with the Masters and the US Open.  2016 was also a good year for the world number six, however, it will be remembered for his demise at Augusta, missing out on back to back Green Jackets which was eventually won by Sheffield’s Danny Willett.  Still only 23, there will be many more major titles to add to Jordan’s already impressive trophy cabinet.  Although, his form seems to dip when he gets warned for slow play and that could fit right in to his contenders hands.

“If he can rediscover the phenomenal putting that led him to successive major wins at the start of 2015 then all things are possible for this immensely likeable American. In some ways in 2015, where he also placed fourth in the Open and second in the US PGA, Spieth made a rod for his own back. But it will be a huge surprise if he does not win another major sooner rather than later.” ODDS: 10/1.

The bookies have placed Dustin Johnson as the favourite but Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy are very close behind him.  Is this a sign of things to come from 23rd July, only time will tell? But golf is a lottery, anybody can win anything. Or the big guns could even throw it away.  So everything I have just told you could mean absolutely nothing by the end of the championship.

All odds courtesy of Sky Bet.

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