Open Championship 2021: Dave Tindall's guide to the action at Royal St George's

The Claret Jug
This will be the first Open in England since 2017

From the Royal St George's course to the betting to the UK television details, Dave Tindall outlines everything you need to know for the 149th Open which starts on July 15...

"It's not my favourite in the rotation I think I'd probably say. You can hit a lot of great golf shots certainly off the tee and get some bad bounces." - Ian Poulter

Plenty of sport did still go ahead in 2020 but the pandemic meant we didn't get to see an Open Championship.

It means six majors have been played since those giddy scenes in 2019 when Shane Lowry hoisted aloft the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush.

Royal St George's should have been the venue in 2020 but, rather than lose out, it retained hosting duties and instead stages this year's showdown.

It means St Andrews is put back to 2022 while Hoylake and Royal Troon will host in 2023 and 2024 respectively.

This is the 14th time Royal St George's has laid on the tournament and it's had some storied winners: J.H. Taylor in 1894, Harry Vardon in both 1899 and 1911, Walter Hagen in 1922 and 1928, Henry Cotton in 1934 and Bobby Locke in 1949.

In the five held since 1981, there were wins for American Bill Rogers in 1981, Sandy Lyle in 1985, Greg Norman in 1993, Ben Curtis in 2003 and Darren Clarke the last time it hosted in 2011.

Sandy Lyle 1985 Open.jpg

Taylor won 30 quid for his win while Clarke pocketed £900,000. The latter figure will be more than doubled this time.

2021 Open Championship facts

When: July 15-18
Where: Sandwich, Kent, England
Total Prize Money: $10.75 million
Winner Prize Money: $1.935 million
How to watch: All four days on Sky Sports
On course: 32,000 spectators will be present each day unless current guidelines change

Who came through qualifying?

A total of 12 spots were available in Open qualifying earlier this week and 11 went to players who have never played in the event before: Sam Bairstow, Ben Hutchinson, Sam Forgan, Deyen Lawson, Connor Worsdall, Daniel Croft, Nicholas Poppleton, Louis de Jager, Daniel Hillier, Jonathan Thomson and Richard Mansell.

The only player with past Open experience to come through was Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. This will be his seventh appearance. GFC has a best of tied 47th.

Royal St George's Course Details

Designer: Dr. Laidlaw Purves (1887)
Yardage: 7,189 (3,620 out, 3,569 in)
Par: 70
Par 5s: No.7 (566 yards) and No.14 (547 yards)
Past winning scores: Greg Norman (-13 in 1993) is the only player to win with a total lower than 5-under. Clarke triumphed with 5-under in 2011 while shock winner Ben Curtis fired 1-under in 2003.

Royal St George's - What They Say

Lee Westwood: "I think more than anywhere on The Open Championship rota, I think a couple of fairways out there which you can get bad breaks. I suppose you can get good breaks, as well, but I think at some point during the week you're going to need patience; it's going to be tested. There are a few places where you accept where you're going to get bad breaks, but you get good breaks, as well. Strategically it's a good golf course. You have to plan your way around it. It's not always driver off every tee, which is quite nice."

Royal St George's 6th hole.jpg

Rory McIlroy: "The thing is with this wind, you're going to have to keep the ball low. But sometimes it's hard to run the ball into these greens because they're so undulating and they can go so many different ways. I think you're going to really need a very strong ball flight, especially if the wind still picks up the way it is. I don't think you'll be able to run many shots in because, as I said, it can catch the wrong side of a slope and it can go 20, 30 yards away from the green."

Martin Kaymer: "I think the tee shots, they're not so difficult, because the fairways are pretty wide. You just need to avoid the bunkers. That's always a penalty if you're in the bunker. You just need to chip it out and go from there. But I think the key shots this week are going to be those six-to-ten-footers for par that you have to save."

Ian Poulter "It's not my favourite in the rotation I think I'd probably say. You can hit a lot of great golf shots certainly off the tee and get some bad bounces."

Stats of top four from 2011 Open at Royal St George's

Darren Clarke - DD: 17, DA: 56, GIR: 2, Scr: 61, PA: 11
Dustin Johnson - DD: 1, DA: 29, GIR: 6, Scr: 41, PA: 6
Phil Mickelson - DD: 27, DA: 36, GIR: 3, Scr: 17, PA: 31
Thomas Bjorn - DD: 33, DA: 6, GIR: 32, Scr: 13, PA: 4

Darren Clarke Claret Jug.jpg

Accuracy didn't seem important in 2011 but it's notable that the top three were all in the top six for greens in regulation.

Current betting and storylines

Jon Rahm: After breaking into the majors club with his superb US Open win at Torrey Pines last month, the Spaniard is the clear favourite at 10.519/2. He's not made the top 10 in four Open starts but nearly did so when T11 at Royal Portrush in 2019 while he's a two-time winner of the Irish Open on links tracks (Portstewart and Lahinch).

Rory McIlroy: Rory won his Claret Jug in calm weather at Hoylake in 2014 but he's also battled gamely in tougher conditions. Although famously missing the cut on home turf at Royal Portrush, his four Open finishes prior to that were 1-5-4-2. He missed the 2015 Open at St Andrews with a foot injury. McIlroy is 14.013/1 for the win.

Brooks Koepka: The king of the majors in recent years and a 16.015/1 chance to win at Royal St George's. Although all Koepka's four major wins have come on American soil he's built an impressive Open record too: T10 at St Andrews in 2015, T6 at Royal Birkdale in 2017 and T4 at Royal Portrush in 2019. He's at it again with T2 and T4 in the latest two majors.

Brooks Koepka at Dunhill (720).JPG

Dustin Johnson: DJ's current form is a concern as he hasn't had a better finish than T10 since February. T19 in the US Open was encouraging though and, of course, he was a big contender at Royal St George's in 2011 before eventually finishing joint runner-up. His week at Sandwich also included a hole-in-one at 16. Johnson is 20.019/1 to go one better this time.

Jordan Spieth: The last time an Open was held in England it was Spieth who produced a dramatic victory at Royal Birkdale. That followed T4 at St Andrews in 2015 while he added T9 when defending at Carnoustie in 2018. Lots of good form this season will attract punters at 24.023/1.

Xander Schauffele: New major winners have been all the rage in the last few years so how about Schauffle, who finished tied second at Carnoustie in 2018? He's continued his excellent record at this level with T3 at the Masters and T7 at the US Open in recent months. Currently 26.025/1.

Bryson DeChambeau: If an Open is more art than science, DeChambeau, the joint sixth favourite at 26.025/1, will have plenty on his plate. He's already shown his frustrations in this tournament - MC-51-MC - so what will he make of Royal St George's random bounces?

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