We return to the scene of David Duval's success in 2001 as we hit Royal Lytham and St. Annes for the year's third and arguably biggest major - The Open Championship. Not your typical links course with the sea not even in view for the most part, Royal Lytham is surrounded by housing estate and according to Padraig Harrington, we are in for an exciting week:
"It is a fantastic venue with a great atmosphere. When you put 40 thousand people in there, because it's so enclosed, the noise really does reverberate around the golf course."
It may be a little different to your normal links but the 2012 Open Championship venue will play as tough as any of the seaside courses with rough "brutal" in places and over 200 bunkers throughout the course waiting to catch you, most of which will cost you a shot. Playing to a par 70, the 7,083 yard layout is very much one for the plotters and experience could be vital this week. Scrambling, as ever at the Open Championship, will be a premium as will the ability to keep the ball low under the wind.
2012 British Open Championship Picks
Pick #1: Luke Donald e/w at 18/1 (price change - 7 places with PP) A short price maybe but Luke Donald is surely the player to beat on a track that demands all the attributes the Englishman has in abundance. The world no.1 is in good shape in the lead up to the Open Championship, currently in contention in Scotland as I write. 15th in driving accuracy, 3rd in strokes gained putting and 2nd in scrambling on the PGA Tour in 2012 and with the patience, intelligence and experience for an Open Championship event, Donald has a brilliant chance to win his first major at Royal Lytham.
Pick #2: Justin Rose e/w @ 33/1 (general 6 places) is another player that fits all the criteria this week for the Open Championship. A very meticulous player who keeps mistakes off the card, Rose played a lot of links golf in his younger years and stormed onto the golf scene as an amateur at the British Open. Rose ranks 10th in scrambling and 5th in the all-round on the PGA Tour and comes into the event off two top tens in Europe with a 21st place finish at the US Open sandwiched in between.
Pick #3: Francesco Molinari @ 40/1 (change - PP 7 places) Currently watching Francesco lead from the front in Scotland and seeing a tee to green game in magnificent shape, I can't swerve him at this price. One of the straightest hitters on tour both with his irons and off the tee, Molinari hits 70% of fairways on average over the years and in 2012, his GIR% is just under 80%. A winner already this season and two top 10s in the wind at the BMW and in Ireland, a must pick for me. Next week will be a case for making pars and avoiding mistakes and Francesco fits the bill.
Pick #4: Ross Fisher e/w @ 66/1 (PP 7 places) Ross Fisher is back and with a vengeance. It's four top 10s now in his last four starts for the Englishman who's currently going well up in Scotland as I write. A more than competent wind player as proven by winning at the London Club in 2008, followed by leading the Open Championship on the final day in 2009 before an eight on a par four scuppered his chances, Fisher is rumoured to be fan of Royal Lytham although has not played there since 2004. He's also been preparing nicely for the event - "I’m going to go and have a look next Friday with myself and Adam and my coach, so go up and try to get some work done there".
Open Championship Sleeper Watch
Pick #5: Retief Goosen e/w @ 110/1 (price change 7 places - PP) Sneaking under the radar this week at a huge price is the South African who finished 13th at Royal Lytham in 2001. Seemingly over his injury problems to some degree, Goosen finished 23rd in France a few weeks ago after an opening round 77 and he demonstrated his scrambling ability of old when posting a top ten at the US Open a couple of weeks previous. Again, Goosen's experience and intelligence could stand him in good stead for this week's Open Championship.
Another angle of attack this week at the Open championship is one I use in the toughest of golf tests. I had big success with this trading strategy in 2010 when Louis Oosthuizen provided me with my biggest ever win - Louis was one of about 12 big odds picks I split my tournament bankroll across; I backed him pre tournament at a huge 400.0 on the betting exchanges and he went on to trade at evens after round three. Admittedly I got a bit tense and I made a mistake and lost some discipline by straying from my strategy and traded too early as he was then four clear of Casey and seven clear of Kaymer (in third). Not long into round 4 he was trading under 1.5 and in hindsight, I should have waited.
The theory behind this strategy is that no matter how well the top golfers are playing, when they face a test such as the British Open where course set-up can be brutal and where luck plays a huge part as regards the elements, it can be a case of last man standing. In 2010, half of the field got the rough end of the stick with their draw and most of them were blown off the course and missed the cut, including some of the biggest names. You will need an exchange account to benefit from this strategy and you can learn more about how to trade here.
For in play advice and tips, follow me on Twitter: @Nicspicks
An alternative approach to betting on the Open this week - my article here
Fancy some no stress free golf bets this week? Up to £200 with Bet365