When Tiger Woods won The Open Championship at Hoylake in 2006, he needn’t have bothered packing his driver as the American only used it once across four days, going on to finish 18-under-par for his 72 holes.
However, back then, Hoylake’s 7,258 yard layout was playing so fast that driving simply wasn’t a necessity for much of the field.
Fast-forward to 2014 and there are a few variables which are certain to throw the emphasis back onto to driving accuracy for the 143rd Open at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
It’s still going to be classic links golf, but unlike ’06 – where the course resembled a browning dustbowl and the famous Hoylake wind was eerily missing – the generous fairways actually have grass on them this year.
Factor into the slower conditions that some tee positions have been set back for this edition, adding nearly 100 total yards to the course, then expect to see Tiger et al taking the big dog out the bag with regularity this time around.
Like all good links courses the rough will be merciless, but the removal of 13 bunkers since the last visit ensures they’ll be plenty of reward for a well-aimed cuff off the tee.
One man these differing conditions should suit is recent Alstom Open de France winner Graeme McDowell – a 25/1 chance for the Claret Jug with Ladbrokes.
G-Mac led after the first round at Hoylake in ’06 and the Portrush native ranks an impressive 17th in driving accuracy on the PGA Tour, hitting 68.69 per cent of fairways from 42 rounds.
Look out for a very tough start to the course, where three of the first four holes, all Par 4’s (Royal,Stand and Road) where fresh broken ground has been created in the rough to make escape shots even trickier.
Anyone coming through these holes under par will be in good shape going forward into their round, while five other holes have seen new swales set around the greens to punish errant approach shots.
Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello at 150/1, could be worth a few pennies on this evidence, fourth for GIR on the European Tour and fourth in driving accuracy in his last event at the Open de France.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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