Today, we’re taking a swing at the grand spectacle of golf – The Open Championship. Also known as the British Open, this isn’t just any tournament; it’s a rich tapestry woven with historical moments, legendary players, and unforgettable shots.

So who is on form and who is the most likely to brave the wilds of Scotland to take the British Open, the oldest golf tournament in the world?

Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a casual fan, there’s something for everyone in the fascinating saga of The Open Championship.

Ready to tee off? Let’s go!

Let’s get straight to the odds and the who’s who of the golfing elite…

British Open Odds 2024

Player Odds
Rory McIlroy 8/1
Jon Rahm 9/1
Scottie Scheffler 10/1
Viktor Hovland 14/1
Cameron Smith 18/1
Jordan Spieth 22/1
Tommy Fleetwood 22/1
Brooks Koepka 25/1
Rickie Fowler 25/1
Patrick Cantlay 25/1
Max Homa 30/1
Ludvig Aberg 30/1
Collin Morikawa 30/1
Shane Lowry 30/1
Tyrrell Hatton 33/1
Matt Fitzpatrick 33/1
Xander Schauffele 33/1
Joohyung Kim 35/1
Dustin Johnson 35/1
Will Zalatoris 40/1
Justin Thomas 40/1
Cameron Young 40/1
Bryson Dechambeau 40/1
Betfred

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When Is The Open Championship On In 2024?

The Open is one of the four men’s major golf championships. The others are the Masters Tournament, the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open.

Since the PGA Championship moved to May in 2019, the British Open has been the fourth and final major tournament of the year.

In 2024 it will be held at Royal Troon from the 14th to the 21st of July 2024.

2024 British Open Odds & Favourites in the Betting

As we all know, golfers come and go, but some names carry more weight than others.

The 2024 Open Championship odds reflect that already with several familiar faces at the top of the list.

For most of the year Rory McIlroy has been the favourite to win with 8/1 odds.

McIlroy last won The Open when it was played at Hoylake in 2014. Since then he his best finish was in 2018 when he was joint runner-up behind the winner Francesco Molinari.

However, McIlroy is Number 2 on the official world golf rankings, behind Scottie Scheffler and one ahead of Jon Rahm who is in third place on the leaderboard.

Given that this is practically McIlroy’s home turf he has edged it out on the bookies odds. Rahm appears to be his nearest rival and the one best placed to give him a run for his money.

But can any of the top golfers take the Claret Jug or will a dark horse swing for glory at Royal Troon?

When Was The First Open Championship?

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.

In 1873 the Claret Jug made its first appearance. 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.

1890-1914 was the era of the Great Triumvirate. It was a period where English hosts and winners took the limelight.

And then came 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.

By the late 20th century 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.

What Makes The Open Different – Links Golf

Links golf, often referred to as “links course” or simply “links,” is a type of golf course typically found in coastal areas, particularly in the British Isles.

Links courses are characterised by their unique natural landscapes and specific features, which distinguish them from other types of golf courses.

These types of courses are typically located near the coast, often with views of the sea. The proximity to the ocean plays a significant role in shaping the course’s characteristics.

Unlike many modern golf courses, links courses are often built on undulating, sandy, and naturally rugged terrain.

The course design aims to incorporate the natural landscape as much as possible, with minimal artificial alterations.

And where would we be without those bunkers, a staple of links courses, some of which can be deep and challenging.

With areas of long, wispy grasses and rough that can penalise wayward shots, these areas require precision and accuracy from golfers.

Throw in the constant breeze or gusty winds from the sea and you get an extra layer of challenge for golfers.

The courses used in the tournament are considered to provide the purest forms of golf due.

And that’s what makes The Open Championship so special.

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: The Claret Jug

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 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 and each year only 156 players are chosen from 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 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!

Qualifying For The Open

There are four ways to earn your spot:

  • Exemption through the Open Qualifying Series (OQS)
  • Local qualifying
  • Being one of the highest-rated players in the official golf rankings that haven’t qualified yet
  • Open Qualifying Series

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.

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.

So, there you have it, folks – a peek behind the scenes of The Open Championship qualification process.

Prizes

At the heart of the prize collection is the iconic Claret Jug. 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. 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 $3 million in recent years.

For instance, in 2023, the total purse was $16.5 million, and the winner, Brian Harman, received $3 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.

St. Andrews

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

Royal Liverpool, also known as Hoylake, has a rich history with The Open.

It first hosted the tournament in 1897 and has held it 13 times, including in 2023.

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?

Royal Portrush

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 152nd Open returns to Royal Troon, in South Ayrshire, Scotland for 2024.

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).

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.

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.