FIFTEEN Aussie golfers line up this week in a British Open that will at least initially be dominated by the question of whether 21 year old Jordan Spieth can win three straight majors.
If the young Texan can manage an historic three-peat in a calendar year he would join the legendary Ben Hogan as the only golfers ever to do so.
“I’d say that here and Augusta National are probably my two favorite places in the world,” Spieth said at St Andrews this week. They were words from a young man enjoying being in the midst of a sustained purple patch that this year has included the US Masters, the US Open, and just days ago, a playoff victory at the John Deere Classic.
“I don’t think there is anything more special than playing an Open here. It’s a place where you don’t forget anything,” he said.
One big obstacle in the way of a possible Spieth victory at the 144th running of The Open has already been removed with current world No.1 and defending champion Rory McIlroy out after some ill-timed soccer hijinks. But there are many, many other quality golfers standing between Spieth and the Claret Jug.
Australia’s highest ranked starter is world No.9 Jason Day who will tee it up in the first two rounds with the two most recent British Open St Andrews edition champions – Tiger Woods (2000 & 2006)and Louis Oosthuizen (2010).
The much publicised vertigo health issues that cruelled Day’s run at the US Open have supposedly now been correctly diagnosed and it is hoped the appropriate medication will be able to keep the condition in check.
Next up is now world No.11 Adam Scott who turns 35 on the day of the first round and has been a much better performer than Day on British soil.
Scott has come agonisingly close to winning the Claret Jug with three
top-five finishes in the past three years – including that runner-up finish to Ernie Els in 2012 that none of us really like to revisit.
Scott was buoyed by his final round 64 and T4 finish at the US Open and there is no doubt the 2013 US Masters winner regards lifting the Claret Jug as his remaining pinnacle career goal.
“I feel like I’ve got the momentum and confidence going,” Scott said this week.
“I want to get out there this week, get on the front foot and get in amongst it early.
“You don’t’ want to be chasing here because if it’s benign the leaders are going to shoot low scores.
“I’m playing good (golf) and coming off a really good US Open showing and I’d certainly like to keep that form rolling the rest of the (northern) summer, but certainly here this week.
“I’ve got a good preparation going and hopefully I’ll be there on Sunday.”
The rest of the Aussie line-up are John Senden, coming off a promising performance at the Scottish Open on the weekend, Marc Leishman, Geoff Ogilvy, Marcus Fraser, Brett Rumford, Steven Bowditch, Greg Chalmers, Matt Jones, Adam Bland, Scott Strange, Rod Pampling, Scott Hend and Scott Arnold.
According to the bookies (Sportsbet quoted) the best chances are Spieth (7.5), Dustin Johnson (12) Rickie Fowler (17) Scott, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson (all 21), Oosthuizen (23), Sergio Garcia (31), Hideki Matsuyama, Martin Kaymer, Jason Day (all 34),Bubba Watson and Paul Casey (36).
The action gets underway live on Fox Sports in Australia at 6pm Thursday (AEST).
Spieth will tee off with Johnson and Matsuyama at 6.33pm (AEST), Day’s group at 6.55pm and Scott at 11.12pm along with Kaymer and Jimmy Walker.
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