Rory McIlroy - 12-year wait could end in fairytale win
"I think everyone's seen how firm and fast the fairways are. The weather looks pretty similar for the rest of the week. The greens are still quite receptive. There's a lot of grass on them, and they're quite lush; still have a very firm first bounce, but they're receptive if you hit a well-enough-struck iron shot.
I've played this course mostly in like September, October time for Dunhill, where it plays completely differently. Then it's sort of hit driver everywhere, get it as close to the greens as you can, and then take your chances from there. I think this week you're going to maybe see guys laying back a little bit.
So, laying back, giving yourself full shots into some of these greens, playing the angles a little bit more, I think that's going to be really important this week. It's definitely a lot more of a strategic golf course when it plays like this."
As for his own game? "I'm playing well. I'm in good form. My confidence in my game is as high as it's been in quite a while."
Third in the 2010 Open here, after missing the 2015 edition with injury, what a story it would be if Rory comes through to triumph. He must have a big chance in is current form.
Last four events: 19-5-1-18
Open form: 46-MC-2-4-5-1-MC-60-25-3-47-41
Last 50 starts - Win: 6%, Top 5: 24%, Top 10: 40%
Xander Schauffele - X man is hottest player in golf
It's been an amazing build-up for Schauffele. A winner of the Travelers Championship in Connecticut last month, last week he won the star-studded 36-hole JP McManus Pro Am in Ireland and then crossed the sea to capture the Scottish Open.
He said there: "I'm playing some of the best golf of my life and capitalising on playing really well. There's a lot of times all the top players play very well but they don't get everything out of it and I feel like I've been successful in getting the most out of my game.
I've never played St Andrews. I've never played the Old Course so a lot of homework to do. Going to rely a lot on my caddie to do that."
Phil Mickelson won the Scottish Open the week before taking victory in the Open at Muirfield in 2013 so the double can be done. Adding to Schauffele's credentials is a record which shows nine top 10s in 21 majors including second place at nearby Carnoustie in 2018. He's also finished tied 13th (US PGA) and tied 14th (US Open) in the last two majors.
Last four events: 1-1-14-18
Open form: 26-41-2-20
Last 50 starts - Win: 10%, Top 5: 28%, Top 10: 36%
Jordan Spieth - Royal Birkdale hero loves links golf
"I love links golf. We don't get true links in the States, regardless of where you are. And you get true links over here, and I really enjoy playing that way," says Spieth, who won the Open at Royal Birkdale in 2017, was runner-up last year and finished a shot out of the playoff at St Andrews in 2015.
"The course is incredibly firm. The greens are flawless, and the setting as you come in these closing holes is even more grand than it was seven years ago. I think, score-wise, if they get any kind of wind similar to this, I can't imagine it will get to 14-, 15-under.
A lot of these holes, it's going to be really hard to hold fairways. From there, if you're not playing out of the short stuff where they put the pins, the best you can do is 30, 40 feet."
A top 10 in Scotland last week when he said he felt underprepared was a decent warm-up and he must be on a lot of shortlists this week.
Last four events: 10-MC-37-18
Open form: 2-20-9-1-30-4-36-44
Last 50 starts - Win: 4%, Top 5: 20%, Top 10: 28%
Jon Rahm - Spaniard hasn't shone in this year's majors
"This is truly the pinnacle of golf. I don't think it gets any better than winning at St Andrews.
Especially when you get into the setup we have this week, nice and firm and rolling and tricked out as it can be, and it's a really fun one. I'm looking forward to it."
Rahm also recalled the time he missed the cut in his one start in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews in 2019. "Usually when I'm swinging badly, I'm missing right. The front nine was left-to-right wind like today, but it was into. I think I hit it into every single right-hand bunker on the front nine that I could.
Don't hit it right. That's the one thing I learned."
Rahm racks up more top 10s (26 in last last 50 starts) than anyone else in the field but he's yet to have one in the majors this season and his form has been a little patchy for his own high standards.
Last four events: 55-12-10-48
Open form: 3-11-MC-44-59
Last 50 starts - Win: 10%, Top 5: 26%, Top 10: 52%
Scottie Scheffler - World No.1 says links golf comes naturally to him
This is only Scheffler's second Open Championship but he certainly took to the task on debut when tied eighth at Royal St George's in 2021. That followed on from tied 12th in the previous week's Scottish Open.
Interviewed at this year's Scottish, where he missed the cut, Scheffler said of St Andrews: " I've never played there. So this is my second time to the UK. I played Lahinch on Sunday and Ballybunion, so much fun.
This style of golf is pretty cool to be able to play, it came really naturally to me.
St Andrews is a golf course that so many people have played, so there's lots of guys that have knowledge of it, my coach being one of them and my caddie being another. I'll lean on guys if they will give me some information.
He's already had an incredible year in the majors after winning the US Masters and finishing runner-up at the US Open.
Last four events: MC-13-2-18
Open form: 8
Last 50 starts - Win: 8%, Top 5: 22%, Top 10: 34%
Matthew Fitzpatrick - US Open champ lukewarm about course
"It's my first Open at St Andrews. I wouldn't say it's one of my favourite golf courses but to experience it at an Open, it's amazing.
But my personal favourite golf courses have always been regular par ones, tree-lined, Harbour Town, Augusta, Brookline, that style of golf. I enjoy the challenge of it when it's windy and it's hard and you've got to grind. But if it's still and calm, I don't particularly enjoy playing that.
I wouldn't say my Open record is great at all. Obviously I'd like to improve on my record, and I feel like I've obviously been playing much, much better since the last Open that I played."
Well, that's certainly true. Fitzpatrick has taken a huge leap forward this year, adding length to his game and getting reward for his hard work with a brilliant win in last month's US Open. A top six in the Scottish Open suggests he's still capable of a big week even if it isn't his preferred golfing terrain.
Last four events: 6-1-10-MC
Open form: 26-20-MC-44-MC-44
Last 50 starts - Win: 6%, Top 5: 20%, Top 10: 42%
Shane Lowry - Irishman looking to repeat 2019 glory
This is Lowry's third Open at St Andrews. "I always say the Masters is the most special tournament or one of the most special tournaments, but I think The Open in St. Andrews is more special than any tournament in the world," he told the Irish Sun.
"The big grandstands, the town, everything about the whole place is pretty cool. Looking back to his first Open at St Andrews in 2010, he recalled: "I remember having a really nice week that week and I remember being out late enough on Sunday which was pretty cool.
The more you play it, the more you fall in love with the place."
Add in a dozen appearances in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in which he's managed three top sixes and four other top 25s in his last eight visits and in-form Lowry must have a genuine shot at repeating his memorable 2019 Open win at Royal Portrush.
Last four events: 9-MC-10-32
Open form: 12-1-MC-MC-MC-MC-MC-9-32-37
Last 50 starts - Win: 0%, Top 5: 10%, Top 10: 22%
Justin Thomas - JT bidding for second major of 2022
"It's incredible. I played here before. I played the Dunhill in '13. Although it doesn't feel like the same golf course as obviously it was in October. I'm excited. I love links golf. I love this golf course. I'm excited for the week. But yeah, I mean, my links golf record speaks for itself. I've played terribly over here.
It's not hidden. I can't fake it. I played really, really well at Portrush. I just had a bad finish. I got kind of caught in a little squall there on probably the worst hole on the course to be in and tripled to where it kept me from a top five kind of thing.
I've played well at the Scottish Open, obviously didn't last week (MC). It's little things here and there. I feel confident that I will have more success in the future. And hopefully it just starts this week."
That's the concern with Thomas. However good his form and pedigree, he's yet to have a top 10 in an Open.
Last four events: MC-37-3-MC
Open form: 40-11-MC-MC-53
Last 50 starts - Win: 6%, Top 5: 30%, Top 40: 42%
Patrick Cantlay - Major form a concern for American
Surprisingly, Cantlay has only played in three Open Championships and tied 12th at Carnoustie on debut in 2018 hints at a strong record at this level. The reality is very different though. He's posted tied 41st (Royal Portrush) and missed cut (Royal St George's) in his other two Opens and the latest of his meagre tally of two top 10s in the majors came back in 2019.
While he's been a regular winner on the PGA Tour in recent years, he just can't get it right at this level. On the plus side, tied 14th in the US Open last month can be twisted positively and he's followed that with tied 13th at the Travelers and, of particular note, tied fourth in last week's Scottish Open.
Last four events: 4-13-14-3
Open form: MC-41-12
Last 50 starts - Win: 8%, Top 5: 28%, Top 10: 34%
Cameron Smith - Aussie should step up on modest Open record
Smith is on plenty of radars this week. The Aussie, who won the prestigious Players Championship at Sawgrass earlier this year, told Bunkered: "I played in the Links Trophy before. But this is my first Open at St Andrews. I'm excited to get back. It's a great town. And The Open is the best event of the year."
Australian Golf Digest revealed that Smith was recently reunited with coach Grant Field after two years apart due to Australia's border closures. The impact was instant as Smith finished tied 10th in the Scottish Open, an uptick after a slight dip in form that had seen him miss the cut at the US Open and settle for tied 48th at the Canadian Open.
Tied 20th at Royal Portrush is his best Open result so far but that should improve quickly.
Last four events: 10-MC-48-13
Open form: 33-20-78-MC
Last 50 starts - Win: 6%, Top 5: 22%, Top 10: 32%
With the course playing firm and fast, Rory's words that players could hold back a little off the tee to avoid trouble means there could be extra emphasis on approach play.
Cameron Smith ranks 5th in SG: Approach this season and I like the way his tied 10th at the Scottish Open tallied with his coach finally getting to see him in the flesh again.
Smith should have those fast Aussie Sandbelt conditions in his favour and is worth a bet at 4.3100/30 to make the top 10.
Scottie Scheffler has a win and a second place in this year's majors and has taken quickly to links golf as shown by his top 10 at Royal St George's last year.
The World No.1 is 7th for SG: Approach and has great imagination around the greens.
His season isn't unlike that of Spieth's in 2015 so I expect the excellence to continue at St Andrews.
Back Scheffler for a top 10 at 3.613/5.
Watch Golf... Only Bettor, ahead of this week's 150th Open Championship below, presented by Sky Sports golf presenter Sarah Stirk with guests Dave Tindall from betting.betfair and Sporting Life's Ben Coley, with another Betfair tipster, Matt Cooper, joining them live from St Andrews.