Open Championship 2022: Dave Tindall's early look

Rory McIlroy will be putting huge focus on this year's Open
Rory McIlroy will be putting huge focus on this year's Open

After a wait of seven years, the Open returns to the Old Course and Dave Tindall completes his set of ante-post major previews with some bets for St Andrews...

"Here's a prediction. The storyline of Rory McIlroy winning at St Andrews will be a huge one in the build-up to The Open. And, as a result, his price will drop and drop."

The 2022 Open Championship
July 14-17
St Andrews, Scotland
All four days live on Sky Sports

An Open at St Andrews is always special and this one will be particularly welcome after such a long break.

Recalling past editions there - Nick Faldo in 1990, John Daly in 1995, Tiger Woods in 2000 and 2005, Louis Oosthuizen in 2010 and Zach Johnson in 2015 - we'd become conditioned to the five-year gap.

This year's event was originally set for 2021 so St Andrews could stage the landmark 150th Open. But that six-year gap became seven when the pandemic caused the 149th, Royal St George's, to be put back a year.

Of course, we still get an annual fix of the Old Course due to it being used twice for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship so could that provide a clue?

Looking at my Open trends piece, Collin Morikawa seemed to break most of them last year! It was his tournament debut so he'd obviously never had a top 10 in an Open before and the American was in his 20s, not the ideal age group for an event which has thrown up plenty of 40-something winners.

However, it's worth looking at the ages of recent St Andrews champions. Seve was 27, Faldo 33, Daly 29, Tiger 24 and 29, Oosthuizen 27 and Johnson 39.

Those bare numbers can be a little bit misleading. Some were relatively young in age although old in terms of experience.

But it certainly makes sense to look at players still in their prime years rather than up and comers or grizzled links veterans.

Get Rory in the bag now

Here's a prediction. The storyline of Rory McIlroy winning at St Andrews will be a huge one in the build-up to The Open. And, as a result, his price will drop and drop.

In which case, back him now at 18.5 and enjoy holding a ticket with a bit of value.

To jog memories, Rory has spent much of his career drooling about the Old Course. There was even one interview where he could recall every score he'd shot there.

In the 2010 Open at St Andrews, when still a fresh-faced youngster with no major title, he flew out of the traps with a 9-under 63. At the time, it equalled the lowest round in major championship history and was good enough for a two-shot lead.

Rory then blew up spectacularly in round two, firing an 8-over 80 to fall away but he recovered with rounds of 69 and 68 to finish in a three-way tie for third. An excellent week on the whole.

Finishing runner-up in the two Alfred Dunhill Links Championships he played between 2010 and 2015 cemented his love for the Old Course.

As a result, Rory - now a four-time major winner - was hotly fancied to capture the 2015 Open at St Andrews but, almost unbelievably, he injured himself playing football in the build-up and had to withdraw.

Graeme McDowell said at the time: "I saw the golf course last Saturday and I believed that Rory was rightly a favourite. I thought he'd get it done round there."

That story will start doing the rounds long before July and the Rory redemption narrative is sure to be hyped up. If he's playing well, there has to be an inevitable price crash and, depending how the other top players are performing of course, it would be no big surprise if he goes off favourite.

Oh, when July finally does come around, Rory will be 33 - the same age as Faldo when he won there in 1990. That would be some nice symmetry.

McIlroy has a win, a second, a third, a fourth and a fifth on his Open resume so that strong body of work really franks the idea that a second Claret Jug could come his way at St Andrews.

Willett fits the bill at a massive 125/1

Starting with Jack Nicklaus in 1970, seven of the last eight Open champions at St Andrews had already won a major.

Good news for Rory and also good news for 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett.

Not only has he won a major, Willett also landed the 2021 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews, shooting rounds of 66-68 (10-under) over the Old Course on the weekend.

Willett wins at St Andrews.jpg

On one level it's crazy that Willett is 125/1 to win there again next summer. The Englishman captures big events (2016 Dubai Desert Classic, 2016 Masters, 2018 DP World Tour Championship, 2019 BMW PGA Championship) so is a proven performer at the highest level.

And yet, he holds a unique place in the golfing world. During the gaps between big wins, he's often way off the pace due to a combination of injury, illness or just poor play.

There's a chance he could be an even bigger price come next July but hopefully a prominent display somewhere and reminders that he was the 2021 Alfred Dunhill Links winner will mean having 125/1 ante-post will look something of a steal.

The case for Willett grows even further when looking at his Open record. He's made his last six cuts and has two tied sixths in that run. The first of those came at... yep, St Andrews in 2015.

I managed to tip him ante-post at 125s for his Masters win in 2016 so hopefully Willett, who will be 34 next July, can repeat the trick again here.

Right now, the each-way terms are 1/5 (1-2-3-4-5-6).

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Thursday 14 July, 10.00am

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