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Thursday, 17 April 2014

An Open field

FINALLY the year of waiting since Darren Clarke lifted the Claret Jug at Royal St Georges is over and the Open Championship is upon us – this time a lot closer to home.

Royal Lytham and St Annes is playing host to the best golfers in the world next week and I’ve been getting asked one question a lot recently – who is going to win? The answer – who knows?

Since Tiger Woods had his problems on and off the course, 11 of the last 12 major winners have won their first, so it really is a case of sticking a pin in the form sheet. There is no science to predicting the winner, but here goes!

Lytham’s past champions include David Duval, Tom Lehman, Seve Ballesteros, Gary Player, Tony Jacklin and Bob Charles, so does that give any pointers?

Duval and Lehman are American and both have one major to their name.

Duval showed more form than Lehman in reaching world number one, whereas Lehman, a great ball striker, was renowned as a grinder.

Player, Jacklin and Charles are a bit before my time, but they are all golfing greats. Seve is just Seve – a legend.

So, looking at past winners, you need the ability to grind out a score, solid ball striking and good length off the tee to take advantage of Lytham’s reachable par fives. You also need to be renowned as a golfing great and have that touch around the greens that Seve possessed. Is there such a golfer? We’ll have to wait and see!

If you are going to Lytham next week, and I presume a lot of you are, then take advantage of www.opengolf.com and have a look at the course to plan to see where would be a good vantage point.

With big crowds expected, a good vantage point is important, otherwise you will miss all the action. Try and get in a stand that looks over a few holes.

The one at the back of the first green, should give you a view over the first, second and 18th, so you can keep your eye on all different angles.

If you are going to Lytham, I might see you there. Give a cheer for a friend of mine who came through final qualifying at Southport and Ainsdale and is living the dream next week. Keep an eye out for Ian Keenan, hopefully he’ll be there all week and we’ll see him on the leaderboard.

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