Sean Goff | Open Championship preview
The Yanks will tell you it’s a young man’s game. Just one player (Vijay Singh, 2004) aged 40 or over has won a Major on American soil this century.
And with 19-year-old Jordan Spieth becoming the youngest winner on the US Tour in the John Deere Classic on Sunday – they may have a point.
But the 2013 Open Championship which tees off on Thursday was won by 40-somethings Darren Clarke (2011) and Ernie Els (2012) for the past two years while American Stuart Cink (2009) and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington (2007,2008) were 36 and 35 respectively when they first lifted the prized Claret Jug.
Here are 7 Golden Oldies from the Paddy Power Blog who could give you a run for your money at Muirfield.
1. Ernie Els (43) 28/1
One of the finest links players in the world. The reigning champion also won here in 2002 (in a play-off) but suffered a tie-break defeat at Royal Troon in 2004. Won the BMW Invitational in Germany one month ago and although he missed the cut in the Scottish Open at the weekend – that didn’t stop him from winning the big one last year. Takes more positives than negatives into the week.
2. Phil Mickelson (43) 20/1
Has now raised expectations of a first Open Championship win after his play-off victory in the Scottish Open on Sunday. Second in six US Opens the ‘Mick’ finished T2 in 2011 at Royal St George’s and was third at Royal Troon in 2004. While no winner of the Scottish Open this century has won the Open Championship – backers can draw comfort from the fact that Els and Clarke both warmed up for the big prize in Scotland.
3 Tiger Woods (37) (10/1)
The World No1 has slid in under the radar for the season’s third Major. A three-time winner of the Claret Jug (2000,2005 & ’06) an elbow injury has ruled him out of action since finishing T32 at Merion last month. Woods is chasing his first Major win since the 2008 US Open but recorded his worst-ever round (81) here in 2002 when high winds and heavy rain lashed the course. Had been chugging along nicely on -10 though before that horror round.
4. Thomas Bjorn (42) (66/1)
A solid links pedigree has seen the Great Dane T8 at Muirfield 2002, T2 at Royal St George’s in 2003 and was fourth in 2011 behind Darren Clarke. In top form over the last three months and excels in the sort of conditions that make the game unplayable. Three Top 10 finishes in his last five tournaments and kept his eye in with a stroll around Castle Stuart links before having to withdraw on the Friday after tweaking a neck muscle.
5. Henrik Stenson (37) 45/1
Led going into the final day of the Scottish Open before finishing T3 – just two shots off Phil Mickelson and Branden Grace. Has finished third at the Open Championship twice in the last five years (2008 & 2010) so knows all about the links effect. Two Top 10 finishes on the US Tour this season and a Players Championship winner in 2009 means this Swede is no back number.
6. Lee Westwood (40) 30/1
Turned the big 4-0 in April and is edging closer to the dreaded ‘best player never to win a Major’ moniker with each passing year. Seven Top 10 finishes this season after relocating to Florida proves he retains all of his ability but needs to sort his putting out. Runner up at St Andrew’s in 2010 and third at Turnberry in 2009 as part of his seven Top 3 finishes in Major tournaments.
7. Padraig Harrington (41) 60/1
Harrington’s career took a nose dive two season ago but has been showing limited glimpses of his old self in recent months. Dual Open Champion with back-to-back wins in 2007/2008. Three Top 10 finishes Stateside shows he can still mix it with the big boys and was an admirable T21 at Merion. Finished T5 behind Els & Co in 2002 at Muirfield. If his game clicks over all four days he could surprise.
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