The 2020 Open Championship
Royal St George's, Sandwich, Kent
All four days live on Sky Sports
The final major of 2020 will be the 149th edition of the Open Championship, staged at Royal St George's in Kent for the 15th time.
Royal St George's has an extremely rich Open Championship history. It's 125 years since the tournament was first staged here and we've seen some illustrious winners. Harry Vardon won the third and the fifth of his six Open titles at Royal St George's more than 100 years ago, Walter Hagen won the first and third of his four titles here and Henry Cotton won the first of three victories here in 1934. Bobby Locke would take the title three more times after he'd won here in 1949, Sandy Lyle won the Open here in 1985, three years before he won the US Masters and Greg Norman won the second of his two Open titles here in 1993 but the last two winners have been far harder to spot...
Ben Curtis caused one of the biggest sporting shocks ever when he won the Open Championship here in 2003, having qualified courtesy of his 13th placed finish in the Western Open two weeks earlier. That was his best ever finish as a pro and at the age of 26 he was the first player to win the first major he'd played in since Francis Ouimet won the US open in 1913!
At 42 and playing in his 20th Open Championship, the 2011 winner at Royal St George's, Darren Clarke, contrasted starkly with Curtis, but he too was very much a surprise winner given he was matched at in excess of 300.0299/1 before the off.
Outsiders have a decent record in the Open and this year's winner, Shane Lowry was matched at a high of 140.0139/1 before the off so given the last two results here, don't be afraid to back an outsider but they may need to be from the UK and they may need to have finished inside the top-ten at an Open Championship previously.
Looking back, ten of the last 11 winners have finished inside the top-ten previously and given they play so much golf on a links course, the home contingency has a decent record too - six of the top-nine this year were either English, Irish or Scottish.
If the last two renewals at Royal St George's are anything to go by, Greens In Regulation is going to be a key stat in July. Curtis only ranked 16th but Thomas Bjorn, who threw the title away when he took three attempts to extricate himself from the greenside bunker at the 16th on Sunday, ranked first and the man alongside him in a tie for second, beaten by just a stroke, Vijay Singh, ranked tied for third for GIR. As did Davis Love III who finished tied for fourth.
In 2011, Darren Clarke ranked second for GIR and the two Americans to finished tied for second, who both looked like winning at various stages in round four, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, ranked third and sixth. The man who topped the GIR stats in 2011 was Love, who finished ninth.
Given Americans have fared so well at Royal St George's, Dustin Johnson will be on many people's shortlists. He traded at odds-on before he drove out of bounds on the par five 14th to record a double-bogey seven in 2011 but he hasn't figured in an Open Championship since finishing 49th at St Andrews in 2015, having led by a stroke at halfway, and he's proving expensive to follow in majors.
Having topped the European tour's GIR stats table in 2017 and 18 and having ranked third in 2019, last year's Open Championship runner-up, Tommy Fleetwood, makes plenty of appeal at an industry-best 25/1 with six places on offer with the Sportsbook but the one I like at this early stage is fellow Englishman, Tyrrell Hatton.
Hatton missed his first four Open cuts before finishing fifth in 2016 and he finished sixth behind Lowry in July, despite being in poor form before the off. He's a two-time winner of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and having won the Turkish Airlines Open in November, his first triumph in more than two years, he could just be primed for a stellar year.
Given his links pedigree and his still as yet not fully tapped potential, the industry-best price of 70/1 with the Sportsbook looks generous enough for an opening gambit.
I'll be back on Monday with my Sentry Tournament of Champions preview.
Tyrrell Hatton @ 70/1 each-way (Sportsbook)
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