The 2018 Open Championship next week returns to Carnoustie in Fife.
Quoted as “The most challenging golf links in the world”, Carnoustie has a fierce reputation. It has hosted seven Opens and four have been won over par though last time eleven years ago in benign conditions Harrington shot -7 to win.
A flat course much of Carnoustie’s difficulty is based around its length (7402 yards, par 71 but only two par 5s), plenty of out of bounds and deep pot bunkers both in the fairway and around the greens.
Obviously writing this a week ahead of the event. The weather looks set fair with firm dry conditions
Looking back on 2007 (I actually remember Van Der Velde and the Burn at Carnoustie better) Carnoustie certainly favoured the longer hitters. The top 3 finishers of Harrington, Garcia and Romero were all in the top 12 for Driving Distance. The other distinctive statistic is that the three players also ranked 1st (Harrington), 6th (Garcia) and 16th (Romero) for scrambling. On a course where the best players were missing 18-20 greens over the tournament, missing them in the right spots and scrambling to make par was more important than a hot putter.So lets put driving distance and Scrambling on the criteria.
Generally in form players are those to follow in Opens. It makes sense that those who are struggling with their games are unlikely to find form on a tough links course. 12 Champions from the last 18 events had won a tournament in the same season prior to triumphing at The Open.
So checking the stats and cross referencing for those popping upon driving distance, scrambling and recent form I found a player who ticked all three boxes. On the USPGA this year he is 14th in driving length, 4th in Scrambling, he’s won twice and in addition is 1stin sand saves.
This player began hitting my shortlists early in 2018 when he was consistently right near the top of the putting columns. However I was also consistently put off by factors which in this instance were health concerns( two years suffering from vertigo and back problems) and family issues, his wife suffered a miscarriage and his Mum had cancer. These combined had been a major factor, understandably enough, in why he hadn’t won in 2017 and had slipped down the world rankings.
So I had better mention who I had in mind: Jason Day. He has begun to win again, this year in the Wells Fargo and the Farmers at Torrey Pines and sometimes was winning without his best game too.
The off the field stuff is in better shape, he said in a recent Golf Digest interview
“Everything feels balanced in my life. I’ve got no problems at home or distractions, I’m focussed on golf”
Back when Day was winning a lot and world number 1, he finished 4th in the 2015 Open at St Andrews, Carnoustie is narrower than St Andrews, and Day isn’t as straight as he is long but this is a player whose short to mid-short game is in a great shape, he’s back to number seven in the rankings and we are not taking the prices we would have to take three years ago when he won a major and was routinely going off near the head of the market.
We can back him at 28-1 each way here, outside the top ten.
Jason Day to win the Open 28-1 ¼ 1,2,3,4,5 Bet365, Coral, SkyBet