Nick Bonfield looks ahead to the climax of the 2015 Open Championship and gives his view on who will lift the Claret Jug at the end of the day...
Below, Nick Bonfield looks ahead to the climax of the 2015 Open Championship and gives his view on who will lift the Claret Jug at the end of the day…
After all the fanfare surrounding moving balls, inclement weather, delays and the actions of The R&A, the 2015 Open Championship is building towards a scintillating climax.
As it stands, there are 18 players within four shots of the lead, including eight Major champions, so predicting the winner is a somewhat difficult task, especially given the inherently unpredictable nature of professional golf.
Nonetheless, here’s my take on how the Open will play out today…
Currently, the early starters are making a plethora of birdies. Scott Arnold has just shot a final-round 66, Jamie Donaldson and Branden Grace are five and six-under-par respectively with a number of holes left to play and Francesco Molinari is seven under through 14.
The weather forecast is decent this morning, but the situation is likely to change around about lunchtime.
On-and-off rain showers are expected from midday, with wind increasing to between 10-20mph this afternoon. There could also be gusts up to 30mph.
As such, I think players starting a couple of hours before the final group could be in with a decent shot, and two names in particular stick out.
Hideki Matsuyama – currently seven-under-par – goes out one hour and 55 minutes before the final pairing of Paul Dunne and Louis Oosthuizen.
He’s a player who can get on a roll when he finds his form and an impressive youngster who always seems to feature in the bigger events.
Some 40 minutes later, Charl Schwartzel goes out. He’s currently 80/1 with Paddy Power, which seems unfeasibly high given he’s a past Major champion, a player who’s made more birdies than anyone else this week and someone who’s only four shots off the lead.
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In spite of the above, I still feel Schwartzel’s compatriot Louis Oosthuizen will reign supreme, although I can see Sergio Garcia and Padraig Harrington going very close.
Garcia, a firm fan-favourite, loves the Open Championship more than any other event, and his record in the tournament is excellent.
Harrington, meanwhile, is as dogged as they come, a brilliant links player and the man with the most Major-winning experience in the top 30.
Naturally, much of the pre-round focus has centered on Jordan Spieth and Paul Dunne.
Spieth, though, struggled with illness yesterday and he doesn’t have much experience playing in inclement weather. I just think the weight of expectation, coupled with those factors, will preclude him from lifting the Claret Jug.
In regards Dunne, I just can’t see him getting over the line with such a top-quality leaderboard, especially playing in the final group in the biggest event in golf.
So, it’s Louis for me. He’s a class act and, crucially, he’s looked very good on the greens this week – something his success hinges on given the strength of his tee-to-green game. Add his temprament, his experience and the fact he’s already won The Open at St Andrews into the mix and you have the 2015 champion.