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British Open Course Preview and Odds: Should We Consider Augusta Form For St. Andrews?

This week, the 150th Open Championship takes place at St. Andrews Golf Links, which is renowned as the "Home of Golf". Tom Jacobs takes a look at what is required to win around this famed golf course.
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British Open Course Preview and Odds: Should We Consider Augusta Form For St. Andrews?

St. Andrews is arguably alongside Augusta as the most famous golf courses in the game of golf, and when players think of Open Championship's they consider St. Andrews as the pinnacle.

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Tiger Woods has been playing this golf course since 1995, when he was an amateur and his victories in 2000 and 2005 at St. Andrews, will forever go down as some the most dominant major displays, alongside his U.S. Open triumph at Pebble Beach, and his 1997 Masters victory.

But what is it about this layout, that saw Woods outperform his general Open Championship record, saw Oosthuizen win after missing his first three Open Championship cuts, and most recently allowed Zach Johnson to overcome a distance disadvantage to win in 2015?

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The Course - The Old Course, St. Andrews

St. Andrews (The Old Course)

  • Length: 7,305 Yards
  • Par: 72
  • Greens: Fescue, Poa and Bengtrass Mix
  • Designer: Old Tom Morris
  • Course Record: Ross Fisher - 61 (2017 Dunhill Links)

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Old Tom Morris was the original designer of The Old Course at St. Andrews, Muirfield (2013 Open Championship), Carnoustie (2018 Open Championship), and Royal Portrush (2019 Open Championship). While they are all courses that have been updated since, given the time that has passed, a lot still remains influence-wise, and there has certainly been some crossover.

2013 Open Championship at Muirfield

The top-10 at the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield reads as follows:

  • 1st - Phil Mickelson
  • 2nd - Henrik Stenson
  • T3 - Adam Scott, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood
  • T6 - Zach Johnson, Tiger Woods, Hideki Matsuyama
  • T9 - Hunter Mahan and Francesco Molinari

The first thing you will notice when looking at this leaderboard is that both Tiger Woods and Zach Johnson who have both won at St. Andrews also finished inside the top-10. It isn't a surprise to see Tiger's name, but Johnson only had three top-10s in the Open Championship, his win at St. Andrews, and his sixth at Muirfield among them.

Henrik Stenson finished second here, and third at the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews.

Adam Scott was T10 at the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews and third at Muirfield.

Lee Westwood was second at the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews, behind Louis Oosthuizen, and third at Muirfield.

Ian Poulter was third at Muirfield and 11th at the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews.

2018 Open Championship at Carnoustie

In terms of Carnoustie in 2018, Woods was T6 there, and a multiple winner at St. Andrews.

Rory McIlroy was second in the 2018 Open Championship at Carnoustie, and he had opened with a 63 at St. Andrews in 2010, before eventually finishing T3, despite a second-round 80.

Justin Rose was T6 at the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews and T2 at Carnoustie in 2018.

Jordan Spieth was T4 at St. Andrews in 2015, and T9 at Carnoustie in 2018.

Other Correlating Courses & Events

The Masters at Augusta

Tiger Woods is a multiple winner at St. Andrews and Augusta.

Zach Johnson, the most recent winner of the Open Championship at St. Andrews, won a Green Jacket at Augusta

Louis Oosthuizen who won the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews, and lost in a playoff to Zach Johnson in the 2015 Open Championship, also lost in a playoff at Augusta in 2012.

Danny Willett who won the 2016 Masters at Augusta, is a winner of the Dunhill Links at St. Andrews and also finished T6 at the Open Championship at St. Andrews in 2015.

Jordan Spieth has won at Augusta, and finished T4 at the 2015 Open Championship.

March Leishman who lost in a playoff to Zach Johnson at the 2015 Open Championship, has three top-9 finishes at Augusta.

Jason Day who was 4th at the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews, has second, third, fifth, and 10th place finishes at Augusta.

Sergio Garcia was T6 at the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews, and won a Green Jacket at Augusta in 2017.

Adam Scott was T10 at the 2015 Open Championship and has won a Green Jacket at Augusta.

Justin Rose was T6 at the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews and has twice finished runner-up at Augusta.

Brooks Koepka was T10 at the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews and has finished runner-up at Augusta.

For the most part, these are just elite players, playing well at both venues, but with Oosthuizen, Willett, Leishman, and especially Zach Johnson I lean toward there being a genuine link. Wide fairways, big greens and creativity needed around the greens are shared concepts at both courses. Both tend to suit a more experience player and reward those with the patience and expertise that challenges like uneven lies and undulating fairways present.

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Course Form (Past 10 Years)

Below is the Top-5 for adjusted scoring average over the past 10 years at this event:

This list will include starts at the Dunhill Links, which is played at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns as well, so that should be considered. I will only include those with two or more starts.

  • Tony Finau - 10-10 - Both starts came at Dunhill Links
  • Tyrrell Hatton - MC-MC-MC-1-1-2-15-2 - MC in only Open start at St. Andrews
  • Haotong Li - 5-23-14 - All Dunhill Links
  • Brooks Koepka - 50-9-10-2-7 - 10th came at 2015 Open Championship
  • Tommy Fleetwood - 5-2-MC-13-15-25-2-5-7 - MC came at the 2015 Open Championship

This could be noisy statistically, so let us also look at the top-10 in terms of Open Championship form, over the past 10 years.

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Event Form (Past 10 Years)

Here are the top-10 players in terms of Open Championship form, over the past decade. The 2015 Open Championship result will be highlighted. For consistency purposes, I will leave out those with just one start, meaning last year's winner, Collin Morikawa doesn't make the list, nor do Mackenzie Hughes, who was 6th at Royal St Georges in 2021 or Scottie Scheffler who was 8th in the same renewal.

  • Jordan Spieth - 44-36-4-30-1-9-20-2 - 4th at the 2015 Open Championship
  • Robert MacIntyre - 6-8 - Last two years only
  • Tony Finau - 18-27-9-3-15 - Did not play 2015 Open Championship
  • Henrik Stenson - 68-2-39-40-1-11-35-20-MC - 40th at 2015 Open Championship
  • Zach Johnson - 16-9-6-47-1-12-14-17-MC - Won the 2015 Open Championship
  • Rory McIlroy - 25-60-MC-1-5-4-2-MC-46 - DNP 2015 Open Championship
  • Brooks Koepka - MC-67-10-6-39-4-6 - T10 at the 2015 Open Championship
  • Shane Lowry - 32-9-MC-MC-MC-MC-1-12 - MC at the 2015 Open Championship
  • Xander Schauffele - 20-2-41-26 - DNP 2015 Open Championship
  • Francesco Molinari - MC-39-9-15-40-36-MC-1-11-MC - T40 2015 Open Championship

As we can see here, some of the best links players of the last decade, haven't necessarily played well at St. Andrews, so that does suggest this could be its own unique test.

Key Stats

Current Form - 5 of the last 8 Open Championship winners have won in one of their previous five starts. Additionally, going back through 100 years of Open Championship form, only four players have won an Open Championship without winning on either the European or PGA Tour in the 12 months prior. One of those was Zach Johnson who won here in 2015, but he had also just finished T3 at the John Deere Classic the week before, 6th the start before that and was a shot off winning the John Deere the year before.

Scrambling - Three of the four best scramblers in the 2015 Open Championship finished the week T4 or better. In addition to that, seven of the last eight Open Championship winners have ranked inside the top-7 for Scrambling. This looks a key metric, which would only come to the fore more if the wind picked up.

Par 4 Scoring - There are only two Par 5's and two Par 3's at the Old Course, meaning there are 14 Par 4's and that has to be a focal point this week. Of the top-10 on the leaderboard at the 2015 Open Championship, only one player (Jordan Niebrugge) ranked outside the top-10 for Par 4 Scoring. Winner Zach Johnson ranked 2nd, and playoff protagonists, Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman ranked 3rd and 4th respectively in that category. Jordan Spieth, who finished the week in 4th, played the Par 4's better than anyone.

British Open Outright Winner Odds

Rory McIlroy+1000
Xander Schauffele+1600
Jon Rahm+1800
Joran Spieth+1800
Scottie Scheffler+1800
Matthew Fitzpatrick+2000
Justin Thomas+2200
Shane Lowry+2500
Cameron Smith+2800
Patrick Cantlay+2800

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Tom Jacobs is the host of the Lost Fore Words golf podcast and has been writing betting articles on golf for the past decade. Tom also co-hosts the DP World Tour Picks & Bets show on the Mayo Media Network, so has his finger on the pulse on all the major Tours. A long-suffering Nottingham Forest fan, Tom also enjoys watching Soccer at the weekend, and was delighted to see his Forest team win promotion this season!


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