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Open Championship 2015: The 40/1 links specialist with St Andrews course form to match

by Sean Goff | July 14, 2015

Jordan Spieth tees it up at 09.33am on Thursday as he prepares for world domination by winning his third Major on the bounce.

But the Texan has spent about as much time at St Andrews as Aston Villa normally spend in the top half of the Premier League and this is a whole different ball game than a Sunday shoot-out at the John Deere Classic.

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But wait, Spieth supporters are probably not wailing right now, he won at Chambers Bay didn’t he?

True, but the rest of the field was seeing the course for the first time also and Spieth’s local caddy Michael Greller was more familiar at dealing with the bumps and hollows than Kim Kardashian’s photographer.

Here’s seven links exponents with serious course form at the home of golf who could just out-play their odds in a tournament where Paddy’s paying to seven places on each-way bets.

1. Martin Kaymer 33/1

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The former World No 1’s form has nose-dived Stateside since last Autumn – missing the cut at the US Masters and US Open before finally shaking himself with a fourth-placed finish behind Bernd Wiesberger at the Open de France.

Swerved the Scottish Open in favour of the range but the dual Major winner can call on some pretty solid links play – and winning course form at St Andrews – having been a three-stroke victor in the three-course 2010 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship (ADLC) where he was also runner-up in a play-off in 2008.

Posted a best-placed 7th behind Louis Oozthuizen in 2010 the last time the Open Championship was played at the course.

2. Branden Grace 40/1

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With last month’s confidence booster at the US Open behind him (finished T4), Grace knows he can live with the best on a course he’s already won at.

He proved his links credentials by winning the three-course 2012 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews having earlier won the 2012 Volvo Golf Championship in his native South Africa.

Was second in a play-off to Phil Mickelson at the 2013 Scottish Open and has gradually been improving his position at the main event finishing 77-64-36 in the last three seasons.

If he can overcame having to play with the likes of Hugh Grant and Shane Warne in the pro-am to win here three years ago – he can overcome anything.

The 40/1 shot could be looking at his reflection in the Claret Jug on Sunday evening.

3. Tiger Woods 35/1

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There was a time when 35/1 about Tiger Woods winning a Major was about as likely as Donald Trump being made cultural ambassador to Mexico.

That was about three months ago as the 14-time Major winner descended into the worst slump of his pro career that culminated in a first-day 10-over-par (80) at the US Open. Woods’ career looked DOA.

But two of Tiger’s three Open Championship wins came at St Andrews (2000 & 2005).

The first was part of his Tiger Slam where he won four Majors (the US Open, Open Championship, PGA Championship & US Masters) in a row and recently showed signs of some return to form with three rounds in the 60s when finishing T32 at the Greenbriar Classic a fortnight ago.

There’s no-one – and not just the US networks and big-dollar sponsors – who doesn’t want Tiger to bounce back to something near his best here.

Just put the driver away already.

4. Louis Oosthuizen 22/1

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The South African has rediscovered his Mojo of late since Bubba Watson’s bending-the-ball-around- the-trees-trickery snatched the 2012 US Masters from his grasp.

Oosthuizen drifted back into the limelight when second to Jordan Spieth at Chambers Bay as he narrowly failed to add a second Major to his 2010 Open Championship victory at this track.

The 32-year-old bounced out of the gates back then shooting three rounds in the 60s (65, 67, & 69) before a final-day 71 to cruise home by seven strokes from Lee Westwood with Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson & Rory McIlroy all a shot further back.

May need all his course experience to overcome the Tiger Woods’ circus and Jason Day vertigo dramas on the first couple of days at St Andrews. But if he’s still in contention on moving day – he knows how to get the job done.

5. Padraig Harrington 80/1

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If it’s horses for courses you want they don’t come more equine than two-time Alfred Dunhill Links champ (2002 & 2006) Padraig Harrington.

The three-time Major winner (& two-time Open Champion) was seven years in the wilderness before his Wikipedia page had to be updated when he saw off Daniel Berger in a play-off at the Honda Classic last March.

Harrington went back-to-back in 2007 (Carnoustie) & 2008 (Royal Birkdale) for his Open triumphs and his general links play and knowledge of St Andrews makes him a lively outsider this week.

6. Shane Lowry 33/1

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The Irishman has been posting some pretty nice figures Stateside as he chases a full Tour card.

A top 10 at the US Open (T9) at Chambers Bay was followed by a pedestrian T31 at the Scottish Open after he let a place in the top three slide.

Having won the Irish Open as an amateur (Baltray 2009), Lowry shot four rounds in the 60s at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2013 to lead at the 10th before eventually finishing joint-third to David Howell & Peter Uihlein.

If he avoids the carnage off the fairways as much as he avoids the gym has a great chance to better his T9 finish at Hoylake last year.

7. Tommy Fleetwood 70/1

A course-record equaling 62 (-10) on day three at St Andrews last October proved the Lancashire lad’s liking for the Old Course bringing up his third top 5 finish in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Fleetwood had previously shown his liking for Scottish venues when winning the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in 2013 and shot three rounds in the 60s at Gullane last week to finish T10 behind Rickie Fowler.

His overall game has improved all season and if he can avoid a return to the technical glitches as much as he avoids a trip to the barber, the 24-year-old’s outstanding course form could count for a lot come Sunday.

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