Six times European Tour winner Simon Dyson does not hesitate for a fraction of a second when you ask him who will win The Open Championship at Royal St George’s.
These days Simon runs the Elite Golf Performance Academy at Mottram Hall near his Cheshire home.
But if you wind the clock back to 2011 at the same quirky Kent course then that was the year he achieved the best Open result of his career and his only top ten finish.
It was Darren Clarke’s name on the Claret Jug and Simon was the leading Englishman . . . thanks to a stunning flop shot from the right-hand side of the 18th green to four feet which allowed him to jump up the leader board into ninth place at the last gasp.
“I am going for Brooks Koepka this year”, said Simon. “I like everything about his game, he’s brilliant and his record in majors is better than anybody and for an each way bet I choose Justin Rose.
“This is not the most glamorous course on The Open roster but it is very demanding. You know what it is and you get on with it.
“It would not be high on my choice of golf courses to play but although it does not really float my boat I was pleased to be professional enough to have my best Open there.”
The lay-out at RSG divides opinion. None of the holes face in the same direction. The course contains virtually every variant of lie and slope possible. The wind and rain can come at you from any direction at any time.
It is the exact opposite of your typical American course which makes it surprising Simon places Brooks ahead of Justin.
Yet Brooks is not your typically insular American. In the summer of 2012, he turned professional and began playing on the Challenge Tour in Europe and three wins in a year gave him a European Tour card.
Simon added: “Royal St George’s is a very good test of golf and you need to be on form with every part of your game
“You prepare for it as best you can and see what happens because it is hard to know what is going to happen from one day to the next.
“Something else I remember about 2011 was that the weather was horrendous at times the crowds were too busy holding their umbrellas to applaud as much as you would normally expect at an Open. So the atmosphere was sometimes a bit weird.
“You have to have a strategy for getting round the course, you have got to be very patient and you have to accept what it throws at you, and Brooks does all of those things better than anybody
You set out your strategy and you stick to it. If something bad happens you just accept it and move on. You might not be making birdies but you know they are going to come.”
So what does Simon say about the ongoing verbal warfare between Brooks and Bryson DeChambeau?
“Brooks makes me laugh in how he reacts to it and I think it’s all quite funny. I do not know how much of a ruckus there really is between them or whether they are just playing up to it.
“It is what it is . . . and if they really do not like each other then this stuff happens. You are not going to get on with everybody.
“As for Justin Rose, he has got the qualities to do well. His patience and strategy is also world-class which is why Justin has won the US Open. If you can win a US Open, you can win The Open Championship.”
Simon’s first Open was at St Andrews in 2000 and he said: “The knowledge of spectators at an Open is phenomenal.
“You get proper golfers watching there – not like at the Phoenix Open where you get a lot of people who want to drink and do not know that much about golf.
“Open crowds are so knowledgeable about golf they recognise a good shot when they see it which is why I always loved playing in front of them.”
Brooks Koepka majors highlights
|Masters Tournament||T2: 2019|
|PGA Championship||Won: 2018, 2019|
|U.S. Open||Won: 2017, 2018|
|The Open Championship||T4: 2019|