So let’s preview what is likely to be one of the year’s biggest and best sporting events in the UK and have a look at which players will likely be battling it out to lift the famous Claret Jug.
We’ll also be offering up our top UK betting picks for this classic golf event via Bet365, where new players can secure $100 in free no deposit Bet365 Sports bets.
Royal Liverpool Golf Club
The 2014 British Open will be the twelfth time that course has held the Open Championship. The first was back in 1897, when British Amateur Harold Hilton won the Open here.
Of all the winners, it is the three American winners at Hoylake who are amongst the most prestigious names in golf to have won the Open, Walter Hagen (in 1924), Bobby Jones (in 1930) and Tiger Woods the last time the event was held here in 2006.
The course is a typical seaside links and will play 7,218 yards from the Championship tees. How the course plays is very much dependent upon the weather. In benign conditions with little wind and softer greens, top players can take the course apart, as Tiger Woods did in 2006 shooting 18-under to win the title.
However, if the wind picks up and the storms blow in across the Irish Sea and down from the Welsh hills clearly visible from all areas of the course, then Hoylake can really bare its teeth. The rough in particular will become soggy and grab clubs, making playing from it a golfers nightmare.
Despite the name, Royal Liverpool is situated across the famous River Mersey on the Wirral Peninsular and sits in the top left hand corner of the Wirral adjacent the River Dee. The weather conditions for the week are predicted as being somewhat changeable and this could well have an impact on which golfers both make the cut and lead the field.
If a golfer can avoid the worst of conditions with their tee times, then there is a chance that some less famous names can find themselves in contention.
The contenders for the British Open 2014
What is interesting is that the last three winners of the Open have all been hugely experienced golfers, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Darren Clarke. Indeed of the last ten winners, only Todd Hamilton in 2004 can be said to have been a surprise winner.
Therefore, it makes sense to assume that experience will play a key role in deciding who can overcome the challenges of Royal Liverpool over the weekend to be crowned the champion. In 2013, Phil Mickelson was one of the few American’s to travel to Scotland for the Scottish Open in the week prior to The Open. Mickelson won the 2013 Scottish Open and a week later, repeated the feat by lifting the 2013 Open Championship.
That fact alone tempted more American-based players over to Aberdeen last week and now Justin Rose has the chance to go one better than Mickelson at Royal Liverpool. Rose, the US Open Champion in 2013, has recorded back-to-back victories in his last two events, winning the Quicken Loans National at the end of June in a playoff with Shawn Stefani, then after a week off, he won the Scottish Open by two strokes last weekend.
Rose clearly heads to the Wirral in fine form and indeed he, along with several other of the World’s top ten ranked golfers, have already been spotted getting practice rounds in on the course ahead of the Open this weekend. Rose though will face plenty of stiff competition from other European stars. Rory McIlroy is starting to show signs that he is getting back to somewhere near his best and Graeme McDowell will be in confident form after his win at the Alstom Open de France a week ago.
German Martin Kaymer is also a serious contender after rediscovering the form that made him World Number 1 just a few years ago. Kaymer has already won one major this season, the US Open, as well as the Players Championship. Other European based players in with a real chance of success include Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Thomas Bjorn, who has an excellent record in Open Championships.
That is not to say there will be a European winner. History shows that players from the USA and rest of the world have a fine record at Hoylake. The likes of Adam Scott, Jason Day, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and Bubba Watson are all capable of winning the event. Whether Tiger Woods will be remains open to doubt.
Woods will compete at Hoylake but the form he showed last season has deserted him since his long injury lay off and he heads into the event as a 22/1 shot, arguably the longest odds you’ll have received on Tiger for an Open Championship in many a year.
Our pick for the winner – Rory McIlroy
If you are looking to place a bet on which golfer will emerge victorious at Hoylake on Sunday evening then in my view, you are looking for a golfer who can master changeable conditions. The weather forecast is for showery weather, which will mean changing conditions on the course and as such, I feel this favours players who have direct experience of this changeable weather.
For me, that means I think most American players will struggle and while Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer are the form picks and have the experience in these conditions, I feel the time is now ripe for Rory McIlroy (14/1) to put together his best game and take the title. He showed glimpses of his talent at the Scottish Open last week but a second round 78 effectively ruled him out.
He still finishes 7-under though but McIlroy has the game to score well at Hoylake whatever the conditions. He’ll also enjoy great support from a fervent home crowd, with a large number of Irish fans likely to make the short crossing from Ireland to swell the ranks of his support.
Our pick for a great each way bet – Miguel Angel Jiminez
The venerable Spaniard may well be old enough for the Seniors tour, but he is still capable of magical performances, as he showed when winning the Open de España back in May.
The 50 year old Andalucian finished 9th in 2012 and 3rd in 2001 but has not finished lower than 27th in the event since 2009. With Paddy Power paying out on Each Way bets down to seventh placed finishers in The Open, and with Jiminez still in prime form and able to cope with any conditions Hoylake can throw at him, he represents a great value each way bet at odds of around 80/1.