Power Rankings: The Open Championship
By Rob Bolton, Fantasy Columnist
Ah, The Open Championship. Perhaps the outcome of no other golf tournament in the world relies so much on the weather conditions than this one.
Muirfield Golf Links hosts for the 16th time. During its last turn in 2002, wind and rain battered the Scottish coast along the southern edge of the Firth of Forth on Saturday of the tournament. Tiger Woods, who sat two strokes off the 36-hole lead, was a non-factor after a third-round 81 in the dreadful conditions. Also two shots back at the midpoint after a second-round 64, Colin Montgomerie blew up for an 84 on that saturating Saturday. The scoring average for the field that day was 74.61.
The forecast for this week's return to Muirfield is benign. Light winds from the prevailing west will flip by Friday and remain easterly for the weekend. A gradual warming from the high 60s into the low 80s is also expected throughout. Of course, don't be surprised if the elements change.
Even a casual golf fan would recognize each of the last seven champions at Muirfield. From Gary Player in 1959 to Ernie Els in 2002, there isn't a fluke among them. Jack Nicklaus completed his career Grand Slam here in 1966, and then named his home course in Dublin, Ohio after it. Muirfield Village, annual site of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance, will host the Presidents Cup for the first time this fall.
Lee Trevino won the second of his two consecutive Opens at Muirfield in 1972. Tom Watson claimed his five Open Championships on different courses, the third of which at Muirfield in 1980. And Nick Faldo won two of his three Opens here, doing so in consecutive editions in 1987 and 1992. He joined James Braid (1896, 1901) as the only multiple champions at Muirfield.
Despite its name, Muirfield Golf Links isn't a traditional links layout. The routing of the par 71 measuring 7,192 yards spirals twice. Holes 1-9 circle the perimeter of the property before holes 10-18 go in the opposite direction on the interior. The most important takeaway from this is that the direction of any wind is always changing. Patience, course management and proper preparation are at a premium.
NOTE: For similar characteristics among recent winners of The Open Championship, please look for "Stats Suggest" in The Stats Report on Wednesday.
|Power Rankings: The Open Championship|