When I initially tipped SERGIO GARCIA for this tournament at the beginning of the season, I envisaged a very different year for the Spaniard. Back then, he seemed poised to challenge Tiger for the world no.1 spot, and 16/1 looked the maximum price he could be for Turnberry. Six months later, he’s 22/1 with bookies and much bigger on Betfair due to a miserable run, particularly with the putter.
 
Nevertheless, Turnberry is absolutely ideal for a quality ball-striker like Garcia, and the best player yet to win a major title has a better chance in this one than the others. He comes here fresh, having not played since finishing a respectable 10th in the US Open, and has made several trips to Turnberry in preparation. The fact that he could finish that close at Bethpage despite barely holing a putt speaks volumes about Garcia’s long-game brilliance, and I have a hunch that putting expertise will be less important around Turnberry. Instead, I expect a war of attrition which will play right into Sergio’s hands. And hopefully, this extended preparation will have produced some improvement with the putter. If you’re not already on at

16/1, then I recommend a smaller bet, 2.5 points each-way, at the best price of 22/1.
 
I’ve also called RORY MCILROY‘s odds wrong, as they’ve drifted from 25/1 to 30/1 since advised a fortnight ago. Despite a disappointing week at Loch Lomond, nothing has altered my view; Rory is a massive contender. I’m perfectly happy to forgive a player of his age the odd bad event, and last week’s failure may owe something to his mind being on Turnberry. He knows that his links prowess elevates him to that bracket of serious contenders in this major, and everything in his career to date suggests he’ll rise to the occasion. Again, if Rory can make the top-10 on his

US Open debut, a tournament that is much less suited to his skills, then he is ready to win an Open.
 
In addition to those two long-range fancies, bets on IAN POULTER, JIM FURYK and ERNIE ELS are recommended. This will be the fourth consecutive event in which I’ve backed Poulter, with one place so far largely covering the stakes. In honesty, I soon regretted backing him at Loch Lomond once hearing him talk about the ‘jinx’ on Scottish Open winners trying to follow up in the Open, so perhaps we shouldn’t read too much into a disappointing week. In any case, he ranked 4th for both driving accuracy and greens in regulation last week, confirming that his long game remains in superb nick. Poulter remains a winner waiting to happen, and arrives here with much stronger claims than when runner-up last year.