Wednesday, July 19, 2006


It's time for the (British) Open Championship once again! I will be waking up at 2 AM for the first tee times, even though they won't be televised until 7 AM, just to get into it. I will be pretty jetlagged by the end of it on Sunday afternoon, but it will be worth it. Let's take a look at the setup at the 135th Open:

Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake, England
Total Par: 72
Total Yardage: 7258
Last Open at this course: 1967

Blimey! I don't know anything about this course, except that it's a typical links set up: no trees, large greens, weedy rough, a gallery filled with pasty drunken Englishmen, and pot bunkers. The recent heat wave in Europe has created conditions are dry and fast, so look for scores lower than recent stateside majors. Obviously, a shot maker has the best chance of winning this thing: someone who hits it low and long, has a great short game, and doesn't spray it. Driving accuracy is a plus, but since 10 holes feature some OOB areas, just staying away from the hazards is equally important. Tiger will be hitting a lot of 2 irons off the tee instead of the driver, so look for that to be a trend.

TEE TIMES - NOTABLES (first/second rounds, EDT):
2:36/7:47 - Sergio Garcia/Paul Casey/Fred Couples. Freddy surged at the Masters, and England's hometown boy Casey is a sleeper. Let's see if Los Pantalones Feos actually puts it together this time. I say "naaaah".
3:58/9:09 - John Daly/Colin Montgomerie/Stuart Appleby. Two big hitters and the beloved (well, at least in Europe) Monty, who gave away the U.S. Open just as much as FIGJAM did.
4:20/9:31 - Phil Mickelson/Darren Clarke/Yasuharu Imano. I like Clarke as much as I'm creeped out by Phillis.
9:09/3:58 - Tiger Woods/Shingo Katayama/Nick Faldo. Probably the most uncomfortable matchup, since Faldo has ripped Tiger's swing in the past as a commentator. Can we get these guys miked up? I'd even buy XM Radio to hear that. Actually, this might be the only time Faldo will be quiet. Anyway, Faldo's quotes afterwards should be amusing.

Funniest name of the tournament: Thaworn Wiratchant, who just beat out Adam Bland and Ben Bunny.
Fashion statement: Ben Crane usually wears a logo of a local NFL team while playing in the U.S., so can he wear Premier League teams over there? My guess is
Liverpool for round 1, and maybe Arsenal for round 2.
Shocking players to miss cut: Davis Love III and Henrik Stenson.

Right! So who's going to win the whole bloody thing? Here are the latest odds (as of Wednesday at noon EDT, from, since is shut down because its CEO was just arrested--whoops!):

Tiger Woods: 7/2
Phil Mickelson: 9/1
Ernie Els: 14/1
Vijay Singh: 14/1
Padraig Harrington: 15/1
Retief Goosen: 20/1
Luke Donald: 22/1
Darren Clarke: 28/1
Colin Montgomerie: 28/1
Jim Furyk: 30/1
David Howell: 31/1
Sergio Garcia: 34/1
Thomas Bjorn: 40/1
Geoff Ogilvy: 40/1
Stuart Appleby: 42/1
Henrik Stenson: 65/1
Davis Love III: 74/1
Mike Weir: 80/1
John Daly: 130/1
Ian Poulter: 62/1
Fred Couples: 120/1
Mark Hensby: 220/1 (Not a good show, Hensby!)
Nick Faldo: 400/1
Nick Faldo saying something cheeky about Tiger: 3/2

Tiger says he's "come to terms" with his father's death, which sounds more like he's convincing himself of that fact; in light of that, I think he'll be close, but won't win it. Monty says his craptacular final hole at the US Open "didn't affect him at all." (Uh huh.) And FIGJAM says he can't focus on "One Bad Hole", which sounds like a PPV adult movie. I'm not picking any of them to win. I'm also sick of backing Ernie and Goose, because they don't seem to have it right now, though the latter has a better chance.

DARK HORSES: I can't NOT root for David "Double D's" Duval, who has been playing well as of late. Also, I like Ian "Silly Pants" Poulter, and Jim "Hitch" Furyk, who have been playing solid golf.

MY PICK: I'm going with Padraig Harrington, who will drink Guinness out of the Claret jug on Sunday!

Thursday, July 20: First-round coverage * 6:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. ET * TNT
Friday, July 21: Second-round coverage * 7 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. ET * TNT
Saturday, July 22: Third-round coverage * 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. ET * TNT
9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. ET * ABC
Sunday, July 23: Final-round coverage * 6 a.m. - 8 a.m. ET * TNT
8 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. ET * ABC

(BTW, last weekend's celebrity tournament from Lake Tahoe was in HD, but this major will not be! WTF?)

UPDATE: Apparently, the BBC Sport website will be streaming action from the Open. That remains to be seen.

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