The Open: Johnson best bet to break Spieth spell without McIlroy

With news that Rory McIlroy is highly unlikely to defend his Open Championship title at St.Andrews owing to a ruptured ankle ligament, it begs the obvious question of who will be seen hoisting the Claret Jug aloft in 2015 instead.

Even if McIlroy somehow manages to regain enough stability in his damaged ankle to swing a golf club, the proximity of his injury to the tournament surely renders his chances a long way north of the 8/1 mark set by Ladbrokes.

Taking his inability to challenge, if not his absence, as a formality therefore, all eyes will be on the biggest threat to McIlory’s long-held world number one spot, Jordan Spieth.

The young American is in the midst of a majestic McIlroy-esque campaign, in which he’s emulated Tiger Woods’ 2002 exploits of winning the first two majors of the season.

Spieth’s emphatic Masters triumph will live long in the memory, and most probably the record books too, while taming the wilds of Chambers Bay for his maiden US Open crown, displayed different battling qualities.

The Texan is the 5/1 favourite to continue his molten-hot majors streak in Scotland, thereby repeating the ‘Hogan-Slam’ of 1953, after his legendary compatriot cleaned up in the first three flagship events of the golfing calendar.

However, the fact that this record stands in splendid isolation gives a clue as to how difficult it will be for Spieth to match it, and should he falter at the birthplace of his sport, one man stands out (literally at 6ft 4”) above the rest.

Nine-time PGA Tour winner Dustin Johnson, at 12/1, is that man for a number of reasons – not least the ability to drive the ball farthest down the Old Course’s undulating fairways than any other player.

DJ has been stalking a breakthrough major win for the past five seasons, highlighted by finishes inside the top six at all four since 2010, twice finishing in ties for second – going 6th and 2nd so far in 2015.

The last of those agonising runner-up finishes will still be causing Johnson lost sleep no doubt, coming as it did at Chambers Bay only a few short weeks prior to The Open.

Having lined up a makeable birdie putt to win the US Open, Johnson then transpired to miss a gimme for a play-off-forcing par on the 18th and thereby handed the title to a most grateful Spieth.

As galling as that was, Johnson shouldn’t be too perturbed by another narrow miss heading to St.Andrews, at a course where he was in real contention on his only other appearance.

Heading into Sunday back in 2010 he was placed in solo seventh, only to shoot a 74 and tale off to finish 14th.

Johnson followed that effort with a tie for second in the following Open Championship and like his most recent outing at Chambers Bay in comparable conditions, his exploits in Britain highlight DJ’s suitability to links golf.

Don’t miss out if the big-hitting American breaks his bridesmaid status at majors on British shores.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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