There is clearly a lot to be said for hitting the ball both long and accurately in golf and that marriage of disciplines will serve players at the 144th Open Championship particularly well given the conditions.
Driving great distances whilst also avoiding the unforgiving fescue grass and even-less merciful gorse which flank the undulating fairways, has served previous winners of the Claret Jug around the Old Course very well indeed.
With inclement, windy weather forecast for the latest edition and some new tee positions making it even tougher, those some way off the 300-yard average drive mark are at a huge disadvantage.
Tiger Woods hit the ball farthest in both 2000 and 2005 averagely when victorious, ranking seventh and ninth in fairways hit across the four days respectively.
More recently, Louis Oosthuizen barely wavered in fairway finding, topping the charts at 85.9 per cent and was no slouch in the length department, beaten by just three others in the field off the tee.
Such crisp ball striking is not enough on its own though, as some semblance of form is required to tame golf’s original test and these three tick all the right boxes at the Royal and Ancient .
The Swede is nearing his dazzling best again this season, finishing solo second in Germany last time and the former double tour winner finished in a tie for third the last time he played at St Andrews in 2010.
Out of the three selections Stenson’s stats off the tee are also the most impressive this season. He sits second only to Rory McIlroy in total driving – which tallies a player’s rank in both driving distance and driving accuracy – on the PGA Tour.
The belly-putter exponent should have won at Royal Lytham and St Anne in 2012 and followed up that solo second with successive top fives at the Open Championship.
The Australian’s average driving distance of 309.2 yards is only bettered by two players on the PGA Tour, while he sits fourth in ball striking which represents his combined total driving and greens in regulation stats.
The Japanese player is the poster boy for consistency this season. Matsuyama finished 18th in comparable conditions at Chambers Bay most recently – his ninth consecutive top 25 finish.
Matsuyama ranks inside the top 50 PGA Tour players in both distance (33rd) and accuracy (45th) with the big stick and lies fourth in both total driving and ball striking.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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