Senior Open Championship: Broadhurst the pick at 20/1 for Royal Lytham

Paul Broadhurst
Paul Broadhurst has made a flying start to his career on the Seniors tour

A week after Shane Lowry's stunning success at Portrush, it's the turn of the over 50s to compete in their own Open Championship. Ian Richards picks out the best bets...

"When asked what his fondest memory in golf was, Broadhurst still maintains it was playing in the final round of the 1988 Open around here with none other than Jack Nicklaus. He already has a sixth and a third in two Senior Majors this year and should be thereabouts again this week."

A Royal stage

First staged in 1987, this year's venue is Royal Lytham St Anne's which hasn't hosted the seniors event for 25 years although it has staged four Open Championships.

We get underway on Thursday with the weather set to be warm and humid for the first few days with maybe the odd thunderstorm before cooling off over the weekend; it should be a decent test with a moderate breeze all four days. You can watch the live action of the afternoon play on Sky Sports all four days (though you may have to use the red button at times).

Over the last few years the top five finishers in this event have been dominated by those that ply their trade on the US Champions Tour rather than those who play more this side of the Atlantic on the Staysure Tour (with the exception of Magnus Persson Atlevi).

The European-based players may have a bit more chance this year with five of the top seven in the Champions Tour money list not playing - McCarron, Stricker, Triplett, Toms and Sutherland all surprising absentees.

Market leaders hold little appeal

We have three players vying for favouritism at the top of the market. Retief Goosen, available at 7/1, won his first Senior tour event at the 11th attempt in the Senior Players Championship Major two weeks ago and it is easy to picture him now racking up a series of wins.

But there are a couple of niggling doubts about Goosen this week. In his prime he didn't have a great record in three Open attempts around Lytham and he has been prone to some injuries already this year; one hack out the rough could see that manifest itself again.

Jerry Kelly has only finished 45th and 14th in two Senior Opens while his record in the Open doesn't make for great reading with a highest finish of 26th in 11 attempts. He has just four wins in 55 Champions Tour events and none in Majors so at around 10/1 he holds no appeal.

I can't help but think that Old Father Time is finally creeping up on 10/1 shot Bernhard Langer as his 62nd birthday approaches. From seven Champions Tour wins in 2017, we were down to two last year and just the one so far in 2019.

But that being said, Langer's record in this event is incredibly consistent - three wins, three runners up and ten out of 11 in the top ten (worst 12th) - so he may give each-way backers a run for their money.

Plenty in Broadhurst's favour

In behind the leaders, we have Scott Parel who, while always on the premises, doesn't cross the line as often as he should and has limited and poor links form.

Miguel Angel Jimenez is the defending champion, has a great record in the Senior Open and has been third and ninth at Lytham in the Open Championship but hasn't been in really consistent form this year.

At the price, I am quite happy to overlook Fred Couples who is now pushing 60 and plays infrequently these days. Going down the list the first player that appeals to me at 20/1 is Paul Broadhurst who has probably achieved more on the senior circuit than he did on the main tour.

Since turning 50 four years ago he has already won two Majors; this title at Carnoustie in 2016 and the Senior PGA Championship last year. He is a two-time winner of the Scottish Senior Open at Archerfield Links and the Renaissance Club, and emulated his European Tour win at Le Golf National (links like) in the senior tour event held there.

One of his other Champions tour wins came at Pebble Beach so you can safely say he is at home in these conditions. If you go back far enough he has a history which should give him fond memories of Royal Lytham.

Back in 1988 he won the Lytham Trophy which got him into the Open that year where he was low amateur. In 1996, he was fast out the gates here leading after round one by two shots.

When asked what his fondest memory in golf was, Broadhurst still maintains it was playing in the final round of the 1988 Open around here with none other than Jack Nicklaus. He already has a sixth and a third in two Senior Majors this year and should be thereabouts again this week.

Evans a potential fairytale winner

Gary Evans - 1280.jpg

If anyone were to be inspired by the win of Shane Lowry last week it would be Darren Clarke but he is very hit and miss since turning 50 and while he played some good shots last week he hit some pretty awful ones as well. Early quotes of 100/1 were decent enough but it's easy to pass at 40/1.

If there was to be a "fairytale" winner take a look at Gary Evans who has returned to professional golf after a 13-year hiatus due to injuries and personal problems. He is possibly most famous for his lost ball on the 71st hole in the 2002 Open where he drained a 40-footer for par but then, clearly rattled, bogeyed the last to miss the playoff by one. Evans also managed 10th the following year so clearly is at home on the links.

Maybe that should come as no surprise as he won the Lytham Trophy back to back in 1990/91. He has returned to golf very upbeat and showed he is not an also ran when third on the seaside links at Trevose last month. At a chunky 150/1, he's the outsider selection.

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