The biggest four days in the British golfing calendar has finally arrived, and it is back at the course the legendary Jack Nicklaus described as ‘the best course in Britain’.
The Open hasn’t been staged at Muirfield since Ernie Els’ dramatic win in 2002, when he came out best of all in a four-man play-off.
However the course has changed considerably since then, with extra length, new bunkers, and four more championship tees in attendance.
There are even narrower entrances to the sloping greens, due to the extremely deep green-side bunkers. This means we are looking for players with great approach play, and are consistent in finding the greens.
This leads us to our main fancy of the competition, Graeme McDowell. He has just notched up his third victory of 2013, when landing the Open de France in fine fashion.
His incredible driving accuracy and scrambling are two key components that the winner must have in their locker, and this means that the 28/1 on offer for GMac looks very tempting. Coupled with the fact he has grew up playing links golf, unlike many of the competitors, this could give him the vital edge and he looks a great each-way punt.
His other two wins, in the RBC and Volvo Matchplay were equally as impressive, and he seems to be able to handle the burden of being a major winner a lot better, after a dip in form following his 2010 US Open victory.
He tied fifth in last year’s Open Championship, which is his best ever finish and provides a solid platform for the Irishman to kick on and improve on last year’s placing.
Alongside GMac, we can delve into two more fancied entrants, who are also in great form.
Jason Day was still in school when the Open was last at Muirfield back in 2002, but the Aussie has gone from strength-to-strength since turning pro, and has been consistent at the top level over the last couple of years.
Finishing joint-runner up in the US Open this year has highlighted the 25 year-old’s ability to continue to mix it at the top.
He has only played in the Open Championship twice in his blossoming career, disappointing in 2010 before going on to improve and finish a respectable 13th in 2011. He missed last year’s competition due to injury and the birth of his child, which will further spur Day on to give a solid account of himself.
His temperament is to be admired, and after a recent spout of top-ten finishes, it would be no surprise to see Day’s odds tumble in the days leading up to the big event, with a number of firms already only offering 25/1 on the Australian.
He is extremely consistent, and no-one can deny his major pedigree. He looks sure to give punters a solid run for their money at 33/1.
The final selection for the week is an intriguing outsider in the shape of Thorbjorn Olesen.
The 23-year-old has been in patchy form of late, but on his day, he’s shown incredible ability.
He’s more than capable of putting together a big performance, and the 65 he shot in the second round at Royal St George’s last year shows how he can cope with a difficult links course.
He is yet to piece together four rounds of consistent golf, but on the day he does, he is sure to land a big prize.
In the final two rounds at his only appearance at Augusta to date, he managed successive 68’s, so it’s clear to see he has no problem finishing off his rounds.
However his opening 18 often lets the Dane down, so if he is within two or three shots at the close of play on day one, he is in with a solid chance.
Stan James are offering a massive 125/1 on Olesen, who is as short as 50/1 elsewhere.
2 points e.w – Graeme McDowell @ 28/1 (Sportingbet)
1 point e.w – Jason Day @ 40/1 (Coral/Youwin)
0.5 points e.w – Thorbjorn Olesen @ 125/1 (Stan James)