Two-time Open runner-up Thomas Bjorn has enjoyed a prosperous second quarter in 2013, and heads to the Open Championship with strong claims.
The Dane is a proven operator around the Muirfield links, finishing two shots off the lead in 2002 to tie for eighth place.
Bjorn comes into The Open after an eighth-place result at the Alstom Open de France, his fifth top 10 finish in his past seven tournaments. His solid Irish Open showing (T18) also provides cause for optimism, as the Dane came through strong wind and rain to reaffirm his ability to make scores in adverse conditions.
The 42-year-old was the runner-up at the BMW International Open and the Lyoness Open, demonstrating an impressive level of consistency that makes him a tantalising outsider next week. He is 40/1 to win a first Major, and represents a highly plausible each-way option.
In addition, the Open has witnessed the vast majority of Bjorn’s more successful showings in Majors, with five of his seven top 10 finishes coming on these shores.
Defending champion and 25/1 shot Ernie Els won the last Open held in Gullane, and also comes into the tournament in good form, after triumphing at the aforementioned BMW International Open and coming fourth at the US Open in June.
The Big Easy has an outstanding record at the Open Championship, finishing in the Top 10 on 13 occasions, and in nine of the past 13 renewals.
7/1 shot Tiger Woods currently leads the betting, though it is worth remembering that Muirfield was the course that saw the American’s infamous 10-over par 81 in round three, then his worst round as a professional.
Five of the last six Open Championships have gone to players from outside of the US, and links golf has been known to see many from the other side of the Atlantic struggle to adapt to the unforgiving fairways and unkempt rough. Phil Mickelson, for example, has just two top 10 finishes in 23 Open appearances, in an otherwise highly consistent and much-gilded career.
The stage could well be set for another first-time winner in 2013. Darren Clarke was 42 when he won this event in 2011 as a host of players fell victim to the treacherous conditions; experience will prove invaluable in negotiating Muirfield’s myriad nuances, and Bjorn looks well placed to capitalise.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing