Turnberry’s Ailsa Course has hosted three Opens, producing a winner of the very highest calibre on each occasion. Most famously, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus fought out the ‘Duel in the Sun’ 22 years ago, when Watson prevailed on the final green for the second of his five Open titles. Greg Norman’s first major victory came on this course in 1986, during the best season of his career, when he led every major going into the final round. And the last time the Open came to this famous Ayrshire venue in 1994, the champion was again the best player in the world that season, Nick Price.
 
Those previous Turnberry results would appear then to point towards a 15th major title for Tiger Woods, who due to the absence of his closest rival Phil Mickelson, starts as the most dominant favourite in living memory. The consensus is that this is a ‘shot-makers course’ that will favour the very best, and as you’ll see from my portfolio I do share that view. That doesn’t, however, make Woods a good value bet at 5/2.
 
The first point that must be made here is that golf has changed markedly since Turnberry last hosted an Open. Back then, the Open winner usually came from a small, select band of world-class links specialists. Big upsets were few and far between. Nowadays, while it is still easy to identify a core of ten to 15 world-class links specialists, it’s impossible to write virtually anyone off. The last ten Opens have produced three almighty shock winners in the form of Paul Lawrie, Ben Curtis and Todd Hamilton. Moreover, this year has seen some quite bizarre results, not least in the two majors, where Angel Cabrera and Lucas Glover were virtually unconsidered beforehand.
 
Nor is Tiger’s links record beyond question, even if he has already won three Open titles. There are two types of Open venue; the norm where the rough is dense and any waywardness is punished, or alternatively there’s St Andrews. I’ll save my criticisms of the Old Course for next year when it hosts this major, but the scene of two of Woods’ titles suited him down to the ground. With little rough to worry about, Tiger could set about taking iron off the tee, avoiding the bunkers and waiting for the several straightforward birdie opportunities to build his score. Hoylake in 2006 was a similar story, because a dry summer had left the rough unusually short.
 
Turnberry is very different. Every player to have reported from the course over the past fortnight has commented that the rough is at its most penal, and that relentlessly hitting fairways is going to be essential. The fact Woods can leave his driver in the bag is an advantage on that score, but his record when employing that strategy around a links is mixed. Besides those three titles in unusually benign conditions, Tiger only put up a serious challenge at Sandwich in 2002 and Birkdale in 1998.
 
A further deterrant to taking this short price is the all-important draw. As with all links courses, Turnberry’s main defence is the wind, so anybody out at the wrong time of the day can see their chances scuppered quickly. Remember, it was an unlucky early tee-time at the US Open that put paid to his chances there at similarly prohibitive odds. From a value perspective, especially with some firms paying six or even seven places for each-way bets, we must look elsewhere.