Today, we’re taking a swing at the grand spectacle of golf – The Open Championship. This isn’t just any tournament; it’s a rich tapestry woven with historical moments, legendary players, and unforgettable shots. We’ll also look at The Open Favourites for 2023.
From its humble Scottish beginnings to today’s global stage, The Open Championship has seen it all. So, grab your clubs (or just your favourite snack), get comfortable, and join us as we delve into the heart of this iconic event.
Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a casual fan, there’s something for everyone in the fascinating saga of The Open Golf tournament. Ready to tee off? Let’s go!
2023 Open Odds & Favourites in the Betting
The first topic we must address is the favourites for this year’s tournament. As we all know, golfers come and go, but some names carry more weight than others. The 2023 Open Championship odds reflect that already with several familiar faces at the top of the list.
As of July 1st, 2023, Rory McIlroy was the favourite to win with 7/1 odds. McIlroy won the Open the last time it was played at Hoylake in 2014. Betfred and Betfred have a complete list of all the players and their odds.
Odds correct at the time of writing. Be sure to check the bookmaker’s website for the latest odds and offers. Best of luck!
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The Opening Act (1860-1870)
In 1860, the world of golf was forever changed. No, it wasn’t a rogue seagull making off with a golf ball mid-flight, it was the inaugural Open Championship. Like a new play on opening night, the drama, the tension, and the sheer spectacle captivated onlookers. Golfers, spectators, and seagulls alike watched the spectacle unfold on the links course, setting the stage for countless future stories of triumph and tragedy.
The Claret Jug Steps into the Spotlight (1872-1889)
The next act in our story introduces a new character: the Claret Jug. But this isn’t just any jug. This is the trophy that champions yearn for, which symbolises The Open Championship. Its introduction wasn’t just about a fancy piece of silverware. The Claret Jug represented a new level of prestige and the start of course rotation, taking the drama of The Open to stages across the land.
English Hosts, Winners and The Great Triumvirate (1890-1914)
Enter the era of the Great Triumvirate. Not a new pop band, but a period where English hosts and winners took the limelight. It was a time when golfers battled not only the elements and the course but also the immense pressure of performing on home turf. The stories of their victories, their losses, their moments of brilliant skill, and heartbreaking near-misses painted a vivid picture of The Open’s growing allure.
The American Invasion (1920-1939)
Fast-forward to the roaring twenties and the stage was set for the American invasion. Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones, with their bold style of play and unshakeable confidence, left an indelible mark on The Open. The story took a poignant turn with the last Open at Prestwick, a bittersweet adieu to the place where it all began.
The Era of Icons (1959-1974)
The late 20th century was a time of icons. Player, Palmer and Nicklaus – the ‘Big Three’ – dominated the scene, their names becoming synonymous with The Open. Following them were Watson, Ballesteros, Faldo, and Norman, each carving their own path and adding their unique flair to the history of The Open.
Tiger Woods and the Modern Age (1994 onwards)
And then came the Tiger. The modern era of The Open began with Tiger Woods roaring onto the scene. It was a time when technology began to transform the game, but the timeless challenge of The Open remained. Each year brought new champions, stories, and moments that would go down in golfing history.
The Heart of The Open: Links Golf
Through all these eras, one constant remained – the heart and soul of The Open, Links Golf. Played on the raw, unyielding shores where land meets the sea, links golf is a test of skill, nerve, and the ability to weather whatever Mother Nature throws at you. Every hole, every shot, every gust of wind adds to the drama and the thrill of the game. This is The Open, a golfing saga over 150 years in the making.
The Open Championship: Forged by Nature
Step onto the green of a links golf course, and you’ll quickly realize you’re not just playing against your fellow golfers; you’re playing against Mother Nature herself. The Open Championship is where the world’s best golfers come to pit their skills against the raw, unyielding forces of nature. And let’s face it; when Mother Nature decides to play, she doesn’t hold back.
At The Open, every hole is a new challenge and story. The wind can shift at a moment’s notice, turning a confident putt into a desperate scramble. Rain can slice through the air, transforming the course into a slippery, treacherous playground. And the sun can blaze down, casting long shadows and testing the endurance of even the toughest competitors.
If you’re thinking this sounds more like a battle than a leisurely game of golf, you’d be right. The Open Championship is much more than a test of skill and nerve. It’s a battle against fate, a test of resilience, and a lesson in humility. Here, golfers learn that no matter how much they practice, how perfect their swing or how precise their putt is, they can never truly conquer the course.
And there you have it! A front-row seat to the wild ride that is The Open Championship. So, hold onto your hats, folks, because when Mother Nature decides to join the game, it’s always a thrilling ride!
The Call of the Coast: Links Golf Course
Picture the scene: a windswept stretch of coastal land, where the elements hold sway, and golfers must adapt or accept defeat. This is the domain of The Open. Every year, the championship is fought out on a links golf course, as unforgiving as it is beautiful.
These courses are a throwback to golf’s rugged Scottish roots in the 15th century. They’re not manicured or molded but are allowed to form and flex as nature intended. Picture wide-open terrain, undulating landscapes with a sandy base, and nary a tree in sight. It’s a course shaped more by Mother Nature’s hand than any landscaper’s blueprint.
The Open isn’t just a test of skill but a battle against the elements. A constant onshore breeze keeps players on their toes, and the ever-changing wind direction across the tournament demands a fresh strategy with every round. The links are also notorious for their deep pot bunkers and gorse bush “roughs”, ready to punish the slightest misstep.
Victory on a links course requires a change in tactics. The ball must fly lower to counter the wind, making distance control a delicate art. And, don’t expect a slick green – the wind means they’re kept slower than on the PGA Tour. It’s an old-school challenge that keeps the modern golfer honest1.
The Grand Dame: Old Course at St Andrews
Winning The Open is an achievement, but winning at St Andrews? That’s the stuff of legends. The world’s oldest golf course, St Andrews, is a mecca for golfers, and a win here is considered a career-defining moment.
In recognition of its unique status, The Open graces the Old Course once every five years, far more frequently than any other venue. And for many previous champions, this hallowed ground is the chosen stage for their Open swansong.
Picture this: walking down the 18th fairway to uproarious applause from the crowd, pausing for a moment on the Swilken Bridge, and snapping a memento photo against the backdrop of the iconic clubhouse and town. There’s no better way to bid adieu to The Open.
The Prize: Trophy Presentation
The Claret Jug is more than just a trophy; it symbolises golfing greatness. Presented to The Open champion since 1873, the original Jug now resides at the R&A’s Clubhouse at St Andrews, while the champion takes home a faithful replica for a year.
In the past, engraving the winner’s name on the trophy was the champion’s responsibility. But after Roberto De Vicenzo returned the trophy sans engraving in 1967, the tradition was tweaked. Now, the winner’s name is already etched onto the trophy at the presentation, leading to fun speculation on TV about when it’s safe for the engraver to start.
And when the winner is announced, it’s as “The Champion Golfer of the Year”, a title with roots stretching back to the first Open in 1860. As the winner poses for photos with the Jug atop a distinct pot bunker, it becomes an enduring image of triumph and the perfect end to the timeless test that is The Open.
It’s Not Just “The Open,” It’s an Identity
Ah, names. They can be a tricky thing, can’t they? Especially when it comes to a golf tournament that’s been around for over 150 years. So, what’s in a name? Well, when it comes to the Open Championship, quite a lot actually.
From its inception, this golfing event has been dubbed “The Open Championship.” Simple, straightforward, right? Ah, but there’s a rub. You see, in the United States, where golf is a rather popular sport, they have their own “Open” – the U.S. Open. So, to avoid any confusion, on the other side of the pond, the Open Championship is often referred to as the “British Open.”
But here’s where it gets interesting. In the UK and much of the rest of the world, the tournament is known as “The Open.” Why? Because it was the first. The original. The one that started it all. It’s a name that carries a weight of history, tradition, and prestige. The name “The Open” is a testament to the tournament’s storied past, its unique challenge, and its enduring appeal.
So, remember, when you’re talking about the Open Championship, it’s not just a name. It’s an identity. This is The Open, the one that started it all and continues to capture the imagination of golfers and fans worldwide.
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The Open Qualifying & Format
Now, let’s delve into the nitty-gritty of The Open Championship – the qualification process. Introduced in 1907, this process is the gateway for players to participate in the world’s oldest and one of the most prestigious golf tournaments. Imagine being among the chosen 156 who play in the tournament out of more than 2,500 entrants from five continents!
Today, most players qualify through exemptions based on their performance in major golf tours, tournaments or their ranking in the official world golf rankings. But for those not exempt, no worries! They can still make their way in by shining in the Open Qualifying Series of international tournaments or through local UK qualifying.
The tournament has evolved quite a bit since its inception, shifting from a one-day, 36-hole event to a four-day competition with 18 holes per day. The lowest-scoring golfers, after the first 36 holes, stay in the game.
Now, you might be wondering, how exactly can a player qualify? Well, there are four ways to earn your spot: an exemption through the Open Qualifying Series (OQS), local qualifying, or, if the field size is still under 156, being one of the highest-rated players in the official golf rankings that haven’t qualified yet.
Around 65% of the field gets a pass from qualifying, usually due to their previous achievements. This includes previous Open Champions under 60 years on the final day, winners of selected tournaments, top 10 and ties from the previous year’s Open Championship, and more.
Then there’s the Open Qualifying Series, which accounts for about 22% of the field. It was introduced in 2014 and offers spots to the leading players (not otherwise exempt) who finish high in about twelve events run by several international golf tours.
Finally, we have local and final qualifying in the UK, which currently lets in about 8% of the field. Local qualifying involves 13 events, with the best performers moving on to final qualifying. Here, they join other eligible players, including past Open champions.
If the field size hasn’t reached 156 after all this, the highest-ranked players not already qualified get a shot at the Open.
As for the tournament itself, it’s four days of intense golfing action with 156 players battling it out over 72 holes. The top 70 and ties after the first 36 holes move on to the final rounds. And if there’s a tie for the lead after 72 holes, get ready for some extra excitement with a four-hole aggregate playoff!
So, there you have it, folks – a peek behind the scenes of The Open Championship qualification process. Whether you dream of teeing off at The Open one day or love keeping up with all the action, understanding the qualifying process adds another layer of excitement to this iconic tournament.
At the heart of the prize collection is the iconic Claret Jug. Officially known as The Golf Champion Trophy, this emblem of victory has been awarded to the winner of The Open Championship since 1873. It’s not just about the beauty of the Jug, but what it represents: mastery, resilience, and a place in golfing history. Winners’ names are engraved on the Jug, joining the ranks of golfing greats like Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Arnold Palmer.
But the Claret Jug isn’t the only prize up for grabs at The Open. There’s also the Silver Medal, an accolade given to the highest-finishing amateur who makes the cut. It’s a testament to the promise and potential of up-and-coming talent. Past winners include luminaries like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
The Open also acknowledges the best score in each round with a gold medal. While it may not carry the same prestige as the Claret Jug or the Silver Medal, it’s a recognition of excellence and consistency that every golfer strives for.
The prize money for The Open Championship can vary each year. However, the winner’s share has been around $2 million in recent years. For instance, in 2022, the total purse was $14 million, and the winner received $2.5 million. But it’s important to note that these figures can change annually based on factors such as sponsorship deals and television contracts.
The Venues & Courses
The Open Championship has been held at some of the world’s most challenging and picturesque golf courses. These locations not only test the mettle of the world’s best golfers but also offer stunning backdrops that capture the spirit of the game.
Let’s start with the course that has hosted The Open more than any other – the Old Course at St. Andrews. Known as ‘The Home of Golf’, St. Andrews has hosted the tournament 29 times since 1873. With its iconic Swilcan Bridge and Hell Bunker, it’s a course that demands strategy and precision, truly testing the skills of every golfer.
Prestwick Golf Club
Next up is Prestwick Golf Club, the birthplace of The Open. It hosted the first dozen tournaments from 1860 to 1872 and has a hosting record of 24 Opens. Although it hasn’t hosted the championship since 1925, its historical significance remains etched in the annals of golf history.
Royal St. George’s
Royal St. George’s has the honour of being the first course outside Scotland to host The Open. As of now, this English course has hosted 14 tournaments and is known for its undulating fairways and towering dunes.
Royal Liverpool, also known as Hoylake, has a rich history with The Open. It first hosted the tournament in 1897 and has held it 12 times. This course is renowned for its strategic layout, which requires thoughtful and intelligent play. Hoylake was the stage for Tiger Woods’ emotional and memorable victory in 2006, just weeks after his father’s death.
Royal Lytham & St Annes
This English jewel has hosted The Open 11 times. This par 70 course is unique in that it starts with a par 3 and is one of the smallest courses to host The Open. However, with over 200 bunkers, it’s anything but an easy round of golf. Who can forget Seve Ballesteros’ iconic ‘car park’ shot on the 16th hole during the 1979 Open?
Lastly, let’s touch on a course outside mainland Britain – the Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland. After a gap of nearly 70 years, The Open returned to Royal Portrush in 2019. Known for its stunning coastal views, Royal Portrush proved to be a worthy and popular venue, and many are hoping it won’t be another 70 years before The Open returns.
Muirfield, Carnoustie, and Royal Birkdale are three other notable courses with unique challenges and charm. Muirfield has hosted 16 Opens, Carnoustie 8, and Royal Birkdale 10. These courses have been the battleground for countless memorable moments and historic victories.
Looking into the future, the 151st Open returns to Royal Liverpool; in 2024. We will see the Open held at Royal Troon Golf Club, and the following year, Royal Portrush will once again host the championship in 2025.
That wraps up our tour of The Open’s illustrious venues. Each course, with its unique layout and challenges, adds to the rich tapestry of The Open Championship. And as we look forward to future tournaments, we can’t wait to see what new stories will be written on these legendary courses.
Winners & Records
Let’s begin our journey with the venerable Tom Morris Sr., better known as Old Tom Morris. In 1867, at the ripe age of 46 years and 102 days, he became The Open’s oldest winner. A year later, his son, Young Tom Morris, set the opposite record by winning The Open at the tender age of just 17 years and 156 days. Young Tom didn’t stop there; he won four consecutive Opens (1868, 1869, 1870, and 1872), a record that still stands today.
In terms of overall victories, Harry Vardon stands atop the leaderboard with six wins spread over eighteen years (1896-1914). His combination of skill, endurance, and longevity is a testament to his legendary status in the game.
Fast forward to more recent times, Louis Oosthuizen set the record for the lowest score after 36 holes in 2021 with a remarkable 129 (64-65). Shane Lowry holds the 54-hole record with a stellar 197 (67-67-63) in 2019.
The record for the lowest final score (72 holes) belongs to Henrik Stenson, who shot a stunning 264 (68-65-68-63) in 2016. That same year, Stenson also equalled the record for the lowest final score in relation to par, hitting an astounding 20 under. This record was later matched by Cameron Smith in 2022.
Speaking of margins of victory, Old Tom Morris set a record in 1862 when he won by a whopping 13 strokes. This remained a major championship record until Tiger Woods’ 15-stroke victory at the U.S. Open in 2000.
The record for the lowest round ever played at The Open (and indeed, in any major) is held by Branden Grace, who shot a sensational 62 in the third round in 2017. Paul Broadhurst and Rory McIlroy share the record for the lowest round in relation to par, both having shot 9 under.
Wire-to-wire victories are a rarity in golf, but The Open has had its fair share. Notable wire-to-wire winners include legends like Bobby Jones (1927), Gene Sarazen (1932), Tiger Woods (2005), and Rory McIlroy (2014).
Finally, let’s not forget to mention Jack Nicklaus, who, despite his incredible success, holds the somewhat dubious honour of having the most runner-up finishes at The Open, with seven near-misses.
These records and winners embody the drama, excitement, and timeless appeal of The Open Championship. As we look forward to future tournaments, we can’t wait to see which records will stand the test of time and which will be broken.