Former European Open champion ANDREW MURRAY who will be commentating on his 30th Open for BBC Radio 5 Live gives his predictions for The Open.
Anything can happen at The Open Championship but my fancy to win at Royal St George’s this year is Lee Westwood.
This is a terrific course, tricky and undulating. One of the best. I have played it more than a dozen times and the players who have overcome all on the occasions I have commentated on the tournament there are Darren Clarke (2011), Ben Curtis (2003) and Greg Norman (2003).
What all three have in common is that they won because they were supremely accurate off the tee and at the time Darren triumphed he was one of the best drivers in world golf.
My gut feelings come into play here because I know the course. You have to be a great driver of the ball, full stop.
Ben was an unknown but there is a massive premium on finding the fairways and then staying on them at Royal St Georges and Ben was never out of play.
Lee has a great shot at this one and if I was a betting man (which I am not) I would choose Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm as good each-way bets.
My favourite this time is Lee because you have to know links golf to play this course. All the holes play in different directions and the wind can come from anywhere at any time.
Strategy is everything here, playing for position as against length. The winner will be the player with the most skill in terms in controlling his ball flight from a variety of uphill, downhill and sidehill lies.
The really top players are good at coping with stuff like that. It’s natural instinct and just part of the deal at that level.
Lee has that plus the immense patience necessary in the worst conditions. When Darren Clark won there was some dreadful weather off the coast and that shot a few people in the foot.
The weather is unpredictable at Royal St George’s, it always has been and it always will be.
Lee might be due his first major but this is a player who has been in fine form on the PGA Tour this year with absolutely nothing to prove to anybody.
That is more of a key than anything and he has all the experience he could possibly need.
Another old boy who might shock the young guns a little bit is Sergio, also coming into a bit of form again. Jon also has a great chance, again because he drives the ball fantastically well.
It’s a joy to have this wonderful championship back after losing it last year to Covid.
The 2019 champion Shane Lowry has had a long wait to defend his title and the atmosphere in Ireland when he won at Royal Portrush was the best I can remember as a Radio 5 Live commentator at the event.
My time with the BBC goes back to 1991 at Royal Birkdale where Ian Baker-Finch was the champion. My favourite memory to date? In 2005 when Jack Nicklaus bid farewell to the Open at St Andrews.