Sam Burns, Hideki Matsuyama, Viktor Hovland, Marc Leishman and three-time Open Champion Tiger Woods will be among the notable figures to be discussed in Draws and Fades.
The 21st century phrasing is that great players make great games in great games, while the timeless version holds that St Andrews always crowns a worthy champion. However, this is not intended as obvious rhetoric in regards to the best player of the week; Rather, it is an indication that the winner is in a class worthy of winning at St Andrews.
It doesn’t usually work that way, but this is St Andrews, this is The Open and this is its bicentennial production. That, ladies, is top notch.
St Andrews last hosted in 2015. From that field, 45 of the 156 participants gathered this week qualified again, including 1989 champion Mark Calcavecchia, who is a former winner in his last appearance.
The links’ out-and-back routing is the same, albeit 16 yards longer than when it was last played in 2015. At 7,313 yards, the par 72 is technically the longest it has played in its history. The qualifying component is that dry conditions leading up to and throughout the tournament allow tournament officials to stretch as long as they want. They never do, of course, but the elements are cooperating for the possibility.
All things considered, the usual Scottish breeze along the sea permitting, conditions will be docile for both sides of the draw in the first two rounds. If the wind picks up on Saturday, the most experienced, mature and greyed out among the low 70 and tie after 36 holes should emerge as the strongest contenders to be etched on the Claret Jug. Sunday promise – can you describe the weather here with this term? – to be spectacular, if not perfect. With hole positions then escalating to primary position to protect scoring, those who have been here before should generate the most roars.
With 112 bunkers that contained less sand to increase the magnitude of the already real dangers, task one is to avoid them. Because of the distance, hitting fairways and greens is pretty much a constant throughout the field, but knowing where to miss is key. The course leader determines the day. Unlike a stock par 72, St. Andrews only has two par 3s and two par 5s.
The narrative that this is a putting competition is valid, but it should be seen in the context of where the first putts are made. With waves that eliminate thoughts of long-range conversions on hundreds of thousands square feet of putting surfaces, but with considerable room to find level ground, second hits to the targets are the premium.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.com’s Rob Bolton summarizes and previews each tournament from multiple perspectives. As planned, look for his following posts.
MONDAY: Power Rankings (The Open Championship)
TUESDAY*: Power Rankings (Barracuda Championship), Sleepers (The Open Championship), Draws & Fades
WEDNESDAY: Select them preview
SUNDAY: Medical renewals, qualifiers, reshuffles, rookie rankings
* – Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Selection for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, also released Tuesday.