While the war for sport’s most prestigious jug is waged at Muirfield, its current custodian Ernie Els is well-priced to take the honours in the mini battle to see who will finish highest of the past keepers of the Claret.
With Tiger Woods still taking anti-inflammatory medication to deal with an elbow injury and 2010 champion Louis Oosthuizen so off colour, Els’ odds of 3/1 stand out in neon lights to top the past winners at Muirfield.
Naturally, Woods’ chances of overall success are being sufficiently hyped up by the media, but the fact the American has played no competitive golf since the US Open is sure to weigh against him in Scotland.
Of course Tiger’s camp will be playing down the impact of the injury, but if Woods gets into that famously ferocious rough at Muirfield, that elbow is sure to be tested fully.
Meanwhile, Els’ other challengers in this market are either horribly out of form or a little long in the tooth, even by Ernie’s standards, to cause the two-time Open champ serious problems.
At 9/1 Oosthuizen may have been a tempting punt, but, partly due to injury the South African’s famous grin has become something of a rare appearance maker as the season has unfolded.
Oosthuizen contrived to miss the cut at the US Open, something he also repeated in his most recent start at the John Deere Classic just over a week ago.
In fact, he arrives in Scotland with the unwanted mantle of recording the highest stroke average on the European Tour in 2013.
Paul Lawrie at 12/1 is also enduring a year to forget at present and warmed up for Muirfield by recording T47th and T49th finishes respectively at the Irish and Scottish Opens over links.
Lawrie has now finished outside the top 30 in four of the last five events he’s played in the build-up to the Open.
In stark contrast Els’ form is majestic. Barring a missed cut hiccup in last week’s Scottish Open, his fourth place at the US Open in June was promptly followed by a huge win at the BMW International, where he shot four sub-70 rounds to finish 18-under.
That was his third top 10 in a row for the man who has nine top-five finishes at this event alone.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.