The 2012 British Open gets underway tomorrow at the Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s Golf Club in England where Darren Clarke looks to defend his title. Boasting 205 pot bunkers scattered around the 7.086 yard, par 70 course, Royal Lytham is sure to be a test of skill and nerves for the entire field. Players in the field have already talked about playing conservative off the tee in order to avoid the nightmarish collection of bunkers. If you happen to miss a bunker but end up in the rough, according to Tiger Woods, most lies are “nearly unplayable”. The 6th and 12th holes have the fewest bunkers, with six apiece, while the 17th and 18th holes combine for a mind-numbing 37 sand traps.
As with any major championship, the top players in the world come out to compete, and the 2012 Open Championship is no exception, with 9 of the top 10 and the majority 50 players in the world competing in the 156 person field. Once again, Tiger Woods seems to be the odds on favorite to take home the Claret Jug while few seem to have faith in Phil Mickelson. Many feel that Mickelson’s game is simply not set up to succeed on a links course, and his record does not dispute that fact. However, Lefty has done much stranger things in his career than pulling out a victory at the British Open, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in contention late in the weekend.
In addition to Tiger, the betting parlors seem to be heavy on Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy. It’s not really surprising that only 1 of the favorites is an American, considering the vast amount of experience most European golfers have when it comes to playing links courses.
If the weather holds off (which is not entirely likely), this course is going to prove to be incredibly difficult. If the wind and rain pick up (which is far more likely), the champion is going to be the one that was able to hold on without falling completely apart. The last 15 major championships have been won by a different person; will this year’s Open Championship continue the parity?