We’ll cut straight to the good stuff this week, that being the news of the Reno-Tahoe Open, crown jewel of the illustrious Paychex Cup, securing title sponsorship. Starting this year it’ll be known as the Barracuda Championship. No word yet on Vaughn Taylor’s reaction.
Now on to the lesser business, the 2014 Open Championship…
The Open (as an American, can I call it just “The Open,” or am I obligated to insert “British”? You know what, we don’t care. Let’s just play the tournament) is back to Royal Liverpool for the first time since Big Cat’s triumphant march of long-irons in 2006.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Royal Liverpool is it’s location. As in, where the hell is it, exactly? You’ll probably read that it’s in Merceyside, England. Conversely, you’ll probably hear that it’s in Hoylake. But compounding this is the course name, Royal Liverpool, implying yet another location. I had to take a deep plunge into Wikipedia to get this all straightened out…
Merseyside, as it turns out, is a county in northwest England. So the course is within its boundaries, but it’d be like identifying Pebble Beach as located in California, USA. Drilling down to the town the links is located in, we get the answer Hoylake. So Hoylake is also a correct answer. Best I can tell, Hoylake is a suburb of sorts to Liverpool, which is the nearest metropolitan area, hence the Liverpool moniker. So I guess all three are valid locations in one sense or another. And with that said, I regret wasting ten minutes of my life on this pursuit.
So the course itself is a stereotypical seaside Links layout. Not much more needs to be said beyond that. The big question marks, as always, will be the wind and weather. In 2006 the wind stayed down, it was dry, and as a result the course was baked-out, firm, and fast (hence Tiger keeping the Big Dog sheathed).
According to the R&A, there have been 13 bunkers removed, leaving the total at 82. Also of note, the routing for the Open Championship differs from the normal course routing. #1 this week usually is #17 for the members, while #18 is usually #16. So there’s that, if you ever have the opportunity to play Royal Liverpool. The finishing par 5 has all the potential in the world to produce some serious drama come Sunday, but I’m hoping the internal out of bounds doesn’t play a major factor. Be prepared to hear a lot about this. In this video, Frank Nobilo asks the Executive Director of Rules and Equipment why they have internal out of bounds. He replies:
“Well we’d prefer not to have internal out of bounds, but it’s not unprecedented at the Open Championship, and it’s not unprecedented here at Royal Liverpool.”
What? Is that an answer? Can someone please explain this internal out of bounds?
The final thing I want to mention is Royal Liverpool’s Royal designation. According to Wikipedia, it was bestowed in 1871 “due to the patronage of the Duke of Connaught, great-great grandfather to Ken Duke” (that last part may be made up).
Barring an ex-pat contingent and father-son once in a lifetime golf trip patrons, the gallery is best summed up in this video:
The local caddy element has always been an interesting element to The Open Championship as well. Knowing the majority of caddies are responsible for their own Travel and Expense (such BS), many don’t make the trip across the pond with the pros using a local looper instead. I can’t wait for Tom Rinaldi to serenade us with a special that opens with the clinking of Guinness Glasses and closes with an emotional salute to one of Hoylake’s finest, an ode to the birthplace of the game.
Overall, The Open Championship vibe is similar to nothing else in golf. Everything is different. The reactions of the crowd, the sound of the applause, and the ambiance is unparalleled in this sport, and to a certain extent, sports in general. As much as we pretend to hate Europe every two years for the three day Ryder Cup, this sport was founded on these islands, and their fans deserve a salute. Enjoy your week, lads.
It was the triumph of the People’s Champion last year at Muirfield! His Sunday 66 was an absolute Tour de Force, a virtuoso performance in the truest sense, matched only in its brilliance, perhaps, by its unexpectedness. What the hell was Mickelson doing winning a British Open? Yet there he was, birdieing four of the final six holes, charging down the stretch in a performance eerily reminiscent of his first Masters win back in 2004. The golf he played that day last year was not only arguably the year’s best, but probably will be looked back upon as some of the best of Mickelson’s career.
Oh, and another thing–have a look at that leaderboard. Just take it in. The sheer magnitude, and outright splendor of it. Amazing.
GIF courtesy of Adam Sarson, aka the GIF Factory.
(Lines courtesy Ladbrokes.com, the Official Bookmaker of NoLayingUp.com. Some prices below are from Sportsbook this week)
Horses for Courses
Sergio (30/1) – As Kyle Porter says, just shoot me now.
Jordan Spieth (35/1) – Copy and paste from just about every one of our previews. There isn’t much more that needs to be said from us on Spieth. Solid odds here.
Jason Day (40/1) – Just going to bet him in every major until he wins one. It’s going to happen in the next 28 majors, so this seems like a great price for me. Less than stellar Open Championship history but we expect him to ball out.
Rickie Fowler (50/1) – He seems to be a pretty popular pick, but he’s played fantastic in majors so far this year with top 5’s in both of them, and he loves links golf. Friendly odds at this price. 50/1!
Zach Johnson (55/1) – Another popular pick. He’s got a very underrated history at The Open, including top-10’s the last two years. He’s also in good form coming off yet another baller performance at last week’s major, the John Deere.
Brendon Todd (100/1) – Doesn’t have the major championship experience, but peep his season. Dude is a stud, and I want him on the Ryder Cup team. I SAID IT!
Gary Woodland (135/1) – These odds jumped off the page at me. Never better than T30 at The Open, but he’s had a fantastic year, and needs to be bet at this rate.
Brooks Koepka (200/1) – Not gonna rationalize. We just love him. And he will burst through in a major way at some point.
Honorable Mentions & Fantasy Fodder
Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson are must plays this week, we just don’t love their odds. Justin Rose is in the same boat, as he should be cruising coming off his Scottish Open win.
- Monday’s Feherty episode with Padraig was as enjoyable as they come. Padraig is so candid and open that I couldn’t help but be glued to my tv. His analysis of his ’08 PGA Championship victory is downright delicious: “There’s nothing like winning ugly and stealing something.”
- Not including SVP and Andy North, ESPN’s coverage of The Open just doesn’t match up. It’s like Warren Buffet doing an interview with Geraldo Rivera – Tradition and class meet a 24-7 hype machine. I wouldn’t be surprised if we cut to Chris Broussard reading tweets about what color headband LeBron plans to where in Cleveland. You would think the suits in Bristol would know that all they have to do is put a couple English accents or even the Euro Tour B-squad in the booth or at least out on the course. The accents are crucial. They lend credibility and enhance the viewing experience with, “on location” flavor. That said, anything is better than Johnny and Dan.
- (Soly speaking now): We’re a house divided on ESPN coverage. I love it as long as there is no Berman. The volume of shots they show is unprecedented when it comes to golf coverage, and there will be no blowhards. The full Tiger cam is something that should have been in existence for the last decade. It’s 2014, if someone wants to see Tiger, let them see Tiger.
- And to take the ESPN thing one step further: Can we get Ian Darke in the booth as a guest commentator????
Enjoy the week and catch us on twitter during coverage @NoLayingUp.