The Open

Open Championship 2024: Two picks from Dave Tindall in his early look at Royal Troon

American golfer Xander Schauffele
Xander Schauffele can make his mark at Royal Troon golf tipster Dave Tindall continues his series of antepost tipping previews for 2024's four Majors with a look at the Open Championship at Royal Troon...

Tournament: The 2024 Open Championship
When: July 18-21
Where: Royal Troon
How to watch: All four days live on Sky Sports

Royal Troon stages its 10th Open Championship next summer and let's hope the golf on show is as good as the ninth.

That was the spectacular shootout between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson in 2016, the Swede winning with a record 20-under to the American's 17-under. Incredibly, it was 11 strokes further back to J.B. Holmes in third.

As well as becoming the first player to finish 20-under at the Open Championship, Stenson also stopped the dominant run of US golfers on the famed Scottish links.

Starting with Arnold Palmer in 1962, Americans won six straight editions at Royal Troon. Palmer was followed by Tom Weiskopf in 1973, Tom Watson in 1982, Mark Calcavecchia in 1989, Justin Leonard in 1997 and Todd Hamilton in 2004.

Here's how Stenson got it done in 2016.

2016 Open Championship

1. Henrik Stenson (DD 11th, DA 5th, GIR 1st, Scr 7th, PA 2nd, AA 1st)
2. Phil Mickelson (DD 63rd, DA 15th, GIR 3rd, Scr 1st, PA 3rd, AA 3rd)
3. J.B. Holmes (DD 1st, DA 76th, GIR 16th, Scr 4th, PA 25th, AA 7th)
3. Steve Stricker (DD 72nd, DA 6th, GIR 40th, Scr 3rd, PA 12th, AA 11th)
5. Sergio Garcia (DD 17th, DA 28th, GIR 30th, Scr 17th, PA 11th, AA 4th
5. Tyrrell Hatton (DD 45th, DA 11th, GIR 36th, Scr 2nd, PA 33rd, AA 10th)
5. Rory McIlroy (DD 9th, DA 35th, GIR 22nd, Scr 15th, PA 27th, AA 5th)

Scrambling jumps off the page as a key stat in 2016. And it's interesting to note that six of the first seven home in the 2004 Open at Troon ranked in the top 12 for Scrambling. Phil Mickelson was 1st both times.

As for Justin Leonard, the 1997 champion golfer of the year at Troon... he ranked 2nd for Scrambling on the PGA Tour that season.

With Christmas a couple of days away, Rory McIlroy currently heads the betting for what will be the 152nd Open Championship. He's 15/28.50 ahead of 9/110.00 Jon Rahm and 12/113.00 Scottie Scheffler.

The current each-way terms are 1/5 the top six.

Back Xander Schauffele @ 33/134.00

Royal Troon history says we should look for an American with a superb touch around the greens.

So it raises a rather wry smile when looking at last year's Scrambling stats and noting that the best in the business was... current Open champion Brian Harman!

Harman at 50/151.00 may not be the worst bet although many won't believe that he can repeat his Hoylake heroics.

At the current odds, the one I like is his compatriot Xander Schauffele at 33/134.00.

Of course, there's a scenario where Schauffele goes to LIV, he drifts out of punters' consciousness and his odds stay the same or even drift.

But the American has already committed to the PGA Tour's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in late January so maybe it's as you were and he'll continue to perform well in the limelight and improve his current world ranking of sixth.

His odds could also take a tumble with a big performance at the Scottish Open the week before the Open Championship.

That tournament takes place at The Renaissance Club where Schauffele triumphed in 2022 having made the top 10 the year before so there's a decent chance he excels again and prompts that price cut.

Schauffele has shown himself to be a strong performer in Opens, the highlight a second place - also in Scotland - at Carnoustie in 2018.

That's part of a record showing six Open cuts out of six with further top 20s at Royal Birkdale in 2017, St Andrews in 2022 and Hoylake in 2023.

Quite simply, Schauffele is very, very good at majors. He has 11 top 10s in 26 appearances and hasn't finished worse than 18th in the last seven.

He's currently 25/126.00 for The Masters, 18/119.00 for the US PGA and 20/121.00 for the US Open which are all viable options. But 33s for this one could prove just as wise an investment.

Back Xander Schauffele each-way @ 33/134.00

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Back Alex Noren @ 150/1151.00

I'll take a bit of a flyer with my second pick and try Alex Noren at a huge price.

A Swede won at Troon last time so how about Noren following in Stenson's footsteps.

Noren had dropped to 70th in the world rankings after a difficult first half to 2023.

But he's ending the year back at 55th after really finding a groove in the last couple of months with third place at the Shriners in Las Vegas, second in the Bermuda Championship and another top 25 at the RSM Classic.

A reason? He said in Vegas: "Kind of went back to the old feels and sort of the technique of a little more fade bias. It's been too tough playing maybe both curves on the ball and haven't hit enough greens really."

As for his Open record, he has six top 25s in his 11 starts. That includes sixth at Royal Birkdale in 2017, ninth at Royal Lytham in 2012, 11th at Royal Portrush in 2019 and 23rd at Hoylake last time.

At Troon in 2016 he could only manage tied 46th after fading from 27th at halfway.

But the week before he'd won the Scottish Open so perhaps some mental fatigue kicked in.

Noren has plenty of good links form and a final relevant pointer for Troon is that he's ranked 39th and 12th for Scrambling in the last two PGA Tour campaigns.

Back Alex Noren each-way @ 150/1151.00

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Read Dave Tindall's ante-post US Masters preview here

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