The Open Preview: Length Off the Tee Could Be an Advantage at St. Andrews

The Open Preview: Length Off the Tee Could Be an Advantage at St. Andrews
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The Open Championship is the oldest golf tournament in the world, originating in 1860. 

For some perspective on how long ago that was, Abraham Lincoln was three weeks away from being elected the 16th President of the United States.  

This year’s Open will be held at one of the oldest courses, St. Andrews. It is the 30th time the venue has hosted The Open. Tom Kidd won the first Open there in 1873, earning 11 pounds for his victory. By comparison, this weekend’s winner will receive $2.5 million of the $14 million purse.  

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The Course 

St. Andrews is referred to as “The Home of Golf” and the par 72, 7,305-yard course has been relatively unchanged since Kidd won his title in 1873. There are several famous landmarks, including the Hell Bunker on the 14th, the 17th Road Hole where players have to hit over a wall to reach the fairway on the par 4. The final hole also features the “Valley of Sin” in front of the green, with the sloping-off area that is the only difficult part on one of the easier holes on the course.  

The course features wide fairways and large greens with seven double greens. The second and 16th, third and 15th, fourth and 14th, fifth and 13th, sixth and 12th, seventh and 11th and eighth and 10th holes each share the same greens.  

Wind is always a factor at the Open, but the weather forecast projects to be relatively tame this weekend with wind speeds under 20 miles per hour and warmer temperatures. 

There is set to be limited wind Thursday morning, while the Friday winds are set to be not as strong as they were forecasted earlier in the week, meaning golfers with early Thursday, late Friday tee times could have a slight advantage when it comes to the weather.  

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Past Opens at St. Andrews 

One key golf betting question that could be answered this weekend is if St. Andrews can pose enough of a defense for the bombers if the weather is relatively tame. 

The course isn’t particularly long; nine of the par 4s are listed at 381 yards or less. Nick Faldo said during the Scottish Open telecast that he believes the majority of the field will be able to drive at least five of the par 4s.  

Past results have favored the longer hitters, too. Zach Johnson was an outlier in 2015, ranking 60th in driving distance to win The Open.

But five of the top 10 leaders in distance finished in the top 10 that year, while driving distance was the best-ranking average statistical category of the top 10 finishers (23.09), topping greens in regulation (23.26), putting average (30.18) and driving accuracy (39.27).  

Tiger Woods also led the field in driving distance in both of his wins at St. Andrews in 2000 and 2005, while Louis Oosthuizen ranked fourth during his victory in 2010.  

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Best Bet 

Bryson DeChambeau 130/1 DraftKings Sportsbook 

I’m leaning entirely into the bomber narrative this weekend and backing DeChambeau. It was reported that he was carrying 345 yards on the range this week with the driver, which would mean he should be able to get it close to the green on most of the par 4s. 

The course is also expected to be dried out this week, meaning it will play hard with plenty of roll which could benefit a bomber like DeChambeau, bringing more par 4 greens into play off the tee.  

His recent form has improved since surgery to recover from a left wrist injury. He made the cut at the U.S. Open. 

He finished 2-under par and 10th at his first LIV tournament and then ended up in a tie for 21st at the JP McManus Pro-Am, shooting 1-under par while beating the likes of Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm. 

There was also the 6-under par back nine during the first round of the Pro-Am, highlighting his ability to go off still and score well.  

DeChambeau is also starting to sound like a more confident golfer. During one of his YouTube videos where he highlighted his preparations for a major title, he mentioned he’s starting to feel confident like he was during 2018 when he won four times.  

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“Over the past four years, I’ve been searching for what I had in 2018,” he said. “I lost it for a little bit. I don’t know why, or how or what happened, but I just haven’t had it over the last four years. I’m finally starting to inch up on it. I went speed training and exposed some vulnerabilities, and I exposed a lot of vulnerabilities, which is why I haven’t been playing very good. But as time as gone one, I’ve learned to control that speed like in 2018 at this new level. And once this hand is fully healed, which it is, you’ll see a new Bryson.” 

Before this video, DeChambeau missed the cut in his previous four tournaments. That quote came right before the U.S. Open and before his improved form. 

If he continues on this trajectory, St. Andrews could end up being no match for his length off the tee. It was just a year ago that Greg Norman thought St. Andrews could “become outdated” because of long hitters like DeChambeau, who have the potential to tear up the course.  

Betting on DeChambeau also highlights how important it is to line shop. He’s 130/1 at DraftKings, but just 65/1 at FanDuel Sportsbook and 66/1 at BetMGM Sportsbook. Always be sure you’re finding the best value for your golf bets.  

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