A look ahead to the 144th Open Championship

The Open is one of golf’s four major championship events and features some of the greatest professionals on the planet. Every year, the top players in the world descend on St Andrews as they compete in a three-day event for one of the sport’s most prestigious trophies. This year’s championship will begin on the 16th July and the 2015 Open event could see the winner’s prize money pass the £1 million total for the very first time. Last year’s champion Rory McIlroy – and current world number one – will be looking to defend his crown against some of the world’s best players, including England’s Justin Rose and Masters champion Jordan Spieth. The Northern Irishman will be quietly confident of his chances after an excellent start to the 2015 season but will remain level headed as he prepares for the upcoming event.

The second major of the golfing season, the US Open, is set to get under way this week and the 26-year-old will compete directly with defending champion Martin Kaymer after the two were paired together in the draw. Although this tournament may not give any clues towards Scotland’s event next month, McIlroy will be looking to land a huge psychological blow to Kaymer and the other competitors as he aims to remain clear as the best player in the world. At the time of writing, the Northern Irishman is priced at 4/1 with betfair to retain the Open Championship in July, while world number two Jordan Spieth is valued at 9/1. The tournament is one of the greatest competitions on the sporting calendar and golf fans from all over the world are set to attend the world famous event. We consider just a few of the contenders for the 144th Open Championship and provide our thoughts on their chances this year.

McIlroy will fancy his chances of retaining his title this year as he attempts to claim the fifth major championship of his career. The Northern Irishman won two professional tournaments last month – the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship and the Wells Fargo Championship – and will be looking to take that form into the summer months. In fact, McIlroy set a new record at the Wells Fargo Championship as he finished seven strokes ahead of his nearest competitor, completing four rounds of golf in just 267 shots. In 2014’s Open Championship, he earned a thrilling two shot victory over Spain’s Sergio Garcia and America’s Rickie Fowler to join Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win three of golf’s major championships under the age of 25. If he can defend his crown and win a fifth major title, he will further stake his claim as one of the greatest golf players of all-time. McIlroy will be hoping to celebrate this year’s tournament in a similar style to last year.

However, new kid on the block Spieth is threatening McIlroy’s dominance in the sport and the youngster will fancy his chances of causing an upset in this year’s Open Championship. The newly crowned Masters champion – who broke a number of records at Augusta National this year – is full of confidence after a phenomenal start to the calendar year but has struggled in recent weeks. The 21-year-old missed the cut in May’s Players Championship while he finished joint-17th in the Match Play Championship. Despite these setbacks, Spieth has climbed up to second in the world rankings and will plan on displacing the Northern Irishman at the top of the standings in the near future. The American is extremely talented and is a future candidate for the number one player in the world. If he can improve his consistency in the build-up to this event, Spieth will stand a great chance of claiming his second major title of the season.

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England’s Justin Rose is also having a sensational year and could feature among the leaders throughout the event. The world number six finished second to Jordan Spieth at Augusta, finishing with an incredible 14-under-par score. In fact, that total would have been good enough to win each of the previous three tournaments, but the young American was just too good. Since the Masters, Rose has gone on to perform well in a number of competitions. The Englishman won the Zurich Classic, finishing on 22-under-par, while he also finished ahead of Spieth in the Memorial Tournament as he claimed second place. Rose has struggled at the Open Championship throughout his illustrious career but, with a bit of luck, he is more than capable of making the cut and, at the very least, should be looking to equal his greatest ever finish of fourth at the iconic event.

The Open Championship is set to be competitive and there could be a number of shock performances that light up the tournament. American Phil Mickelson remains a top player and is capable of beating the very best on his day, while Tiger Woods has struggled for consistency and recently hit a career-worst round of 85 at the Memorial Tournament. McIlroy and Spieth are likely to be there or thereabouts and should climb up the leaderboard as the championship progresses. The newly crowned Masters champion will be hungry for a second major in 2015, but title holder McIlroy may be too strong as the Northern Irishman hunts a fifth major success.

St Andrews hosts the British Open 2010

This week sees the British Open returns to the home of golf, as St. Andrews hosts the 139th British Open Golf Championship.  Last year the British Open Championship was held at Turnberry where veteran Tom Watson surprised everyone apart from himself as he almost lifted the trophy but lost a gripping 4 hole play-off against fellow American Stewart Cink.

Graeme McDowell will have a boost of confidence after his amazing victory at last month’s US Open at Pebble Beach; and Tiger Woods will be looking to win his third British Open Golf Championship title and become the first golfer to win three British Opens at St Andrews, following his victories in 2000 and 2005.

As with most tournaments he enters, Tiger Woods is favourite to win but it’s a surprise to see Graeme McDowell isn’t heading the European list of contenders.  That goes to Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy, closely followed by Padraig Harrington, along with South African Ernie Els and American left-hander Phil Mickeslon.

Lee Westwood will go to St. Andrews boosted by his own recent victory on the US golf circuit at the St Jude Classic in Memphis Tennessee after a three-way play-off with American Robert Garrigus and Sweden’s Robert Karlsson.

As for Rory McIlroy, he is still looking for his first major title after being touted as a serious contender for the past few years now.  It may be the pressure of such high expectations, but McIlroy has not been able to stay with the leaders over the course of four days, and as a rule fades in the latter part of the big occasions.  But as always I will be hoping the young golfer from Northern Ireland will be lucky this time around.

Due to his low stature in the world rankings these days, Ryder Cup captain, Colin Montgomerie had to qualify for the 2010 Open at St Andrews.  But like Tiger Woods, St. Andrews is a special place for Monty, who has never missed an Open Championship since making his debut in 1990 at St Andrews.

The 139th British Open Golf 2010 will take place at St. Andrews, Scotland between Thursday 15th and Sunday 18th July.

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The 139th British Open Golf 2010 at St. Andrews

Next month the British Open returns to the home of golf, as St. Andrews hosts the 139th British Open Golf Championship.  It is also celebrating 150 years since Willie Park Senior won the very first ‘British Open Championship for Professional Golfers’ over three rounds of twelve holes on the famous links course at Prestwick. The event was inspired by the Earl of Eglinton and Colonel James Fairlie, and with the help of Prestwick Golf Club members, money was raised for a red leather belt with a silver buckle to be awarded to the winner.

Last year the British Open Championship was held at Turnberry and after a 4 hole play-off against veteran Tom Watson, the American Stewart Cink won his first major title.

This year, Lee Westwood will head the British contingent following his latest win at the St Jude Classic in Memphis Tennessee after a three-way play-off with American Robert Garrigus and Sweden’s Robert Karlsson.

The British Open attracts the biggest names in golf and so is a perfect excuse for a golf in Scotland weekend break; and the chance to visit the famous St. Andrews course and see the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and other top world ranking players is a bonus.

Following Tiger Woods much lauded return to golf at the US Masters in New York earlier this year everyone will be hoping he recovers from a neck injury that forced him to withdraw from the Players Championship in May. Woods is scheduled to play in the US Open at Pebble Beach this weekend and defend his AT&T National title in July. He also has the added incentive to play at this year’s British Open as he is looking to become the first golfer to win three British Opens at St Andrews after victories there in 2000 and 2005.

This year’s European Ryder Cup captain, Colin Montgomerie qualified for the 2010 Open at St Andrews with a fantastic 62 at Sunningdale New, a course equalling score including five birdies on the last seven holes.

Colin Montgomerie has never missed an Open Championship since making his debut in 1990 at St Andrews.

On qualifying for the 139th British Open, Montgomerie said,

“It is a special place, no question, and I’m just glad the opportunity has been taken. I’ll be 47 when the Open comes round and this will probably be my last opportunity to play the Open at St Andrews.”

The 139th British Open Golf 2010 will take place at St. Andrews, Scotland between 15th and 18th July, so book your golf break now.

GEO Guidelines for Sustainable Golf Development Receive Unanimous Support

GEO - Sustainable Golf Development
GEO - Sustainable Golf Development

During a packed Environment Session at the World Forum of Golf Architects in St Andrews, the Golf Environment Organization (GEO) debuted their draft Guidelines for Sustainable Golf Development.

Since the groundbreaking project commenced in 2009, GEO has been co-ordinating a team of experts in the creation of globally applicable guidelines that will enable the diverse stakeholders in golf development to achieve higher standards of social, economic and environmental return on investment.

As golf development around the world is increasingly influenced by the expectations of government and local communities, the golf design industry has recognised that it must take the initiative to foster mutual understanding between developers and regulators, and find common goals and solutions to social and environmental issues. GEO’s Development Guidelines will provide a basis for all parties to work constructively in maximising the shareholder and stakeholder potential of projects. For the first time, golf development has been interfaced with society’s 21st Century sustainability agenda, resulting in a framework of processes, principles and technical information that can be applied to any project, anywhere in the world, from a 6-star resort to a 6-hole children’s course.

After the presentation Jonathan Smith of GEO commented:

“We were thrilled to have the opportunity to present this project to such a large and knowledgeable audience, and we are buoyed by the positive feedback and encouragement we received. The combination of credible content and international partnership will represent a robust and valuable statement on behalf of golf architects worldwide – that they recognise and understand their unique opportunity to leave positive long-term social and environmental legacies. We are now set to open the guidance for consultation among selected institute and association representatives during the coming months, with a view to launching the final version at regional events in the second half of 2010.”

The summary brochure distributed at the World Forum, also detailing the next steps for the project partners, can be downloaded from www.golfenvironment.org.

As hosts of the Environment Session, European Institute of Golf Course Architects (EIGCA) President David Krause was delighted with the engagement of the international audience:

“We were all impressed with GEO’s achievements to date and the golf course design industry unanimously agreed to support their Guidelines project. Together with our global colleagues we realise that the future of golf development will depend on a sustainable approach and that our designs will need to evolve in response to environmental and social issues. The EIGCA is proud to have played a leading role in aligning the golf course design industry with GEO’s efforts, and we look forward to adopting these guidelines when they are published in the summer.”

Speaking on behalf of his ASGCA colleagues, newly inaugurated President Erik Larsen added:

“The American Society of Golf Course Architects applauds GEO for their efforts towards establishing guidelines for sustainable golf development. This is an important issue and warrants careful study as it could affect our profession and the golf industry for the long term. We look forward to being involved with GEO to further develop sustainable principles for golf courses.”

Takeshi Sato, Chairman of the Japanese Society of Golf Course Architects (JSGCA), was equally supportive:

“The JSGCA pledge their full support to the work being undertaken by GEO. The relationship between golf, people and nature must be one of kinship and mutual support. Whether in new development or the renovation of existing facilities, our profession must strive to achieve sustainable outcomes at every opportunity. We applaud GEO’s efforts in developing internationally applicable guidelines.”

Five-time British Open champion and Patron of the Society of Australian Golf Course Architects (SAGCA), Peter Thomson was keen to speak on behalf of his society:

“I am delighted that the golf architects of Europe, The USA, Japan and Australia have pledged to support the initiatives of GEO to provide a common voice for the golf industry on the important issue of golf and the environment. Jonathan Smith and his team are to be congratulated on their work to date and for their Sustainable Golf Development Guidelines. Golf is and has always been a game with nature and it is time that non-golfers became aware of this fact.”

R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson was also pleased by the enthusiastic reception to GEO’s challenging project:

“The R&A has made substantial financial and ethical investment in the production of these guidelines. Whilst new golf developments that damage the environment and disenfranchise local people do more than anything to harm the game’s reputation, we also know that golf facilities can be social, economic and environmental assets. We anticipate that these guidelines will help developers and architects to build courses that are in line with sustainable requirements, and will be of great assistance to planning authorities that seek to better understand the needs of golf and make more informed judgements on project proposals.”