Three Majors have been played so far in 2021, but for many the best has been saved till last. The 149th Open Championship is like no other Major; the world’s best play, with sea breezes, heavy rough and potentially bad weather replacing the benign conditions we so often see.

Royal St George’s hosts the tournament for the first time since 2011 and, for many, it’s regarded as one of the tougher tests on the Open roster, with penal rough, reportedly uncut for two years, guarding several holes for errant shots.

So, sit back, enjoy the show, and take a read of our preview.

JT primed for a bold showing

It’s become commonplace in golf that the top of the market is very congested with four or five of the world’s best usually very tightly matched in the betting. However, it’s a very different story for the Open this year, with US Open champion Jon Rahm head and shoulders above the rest at 8/1.

And the case for the Spaniard is a pretty strong one. He was superb when winning at Torrey Pines and prior to that he was forced to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament, where he looked destined to take the title. It looked very likely he’d go back-to-back at last week’s Scottish Open after two rounds, but the putter started misbehaving and he ended up finishing sixth – two shots behind the leaders.

He’s conquered both Portstewart and Lahinch, so is more than capable of playing well on the Links, but in a market as deep as this one, he has to be taken on.

The man to do that with could well be Justin Thomas, who like Rahm, comes into this off a solid showing at the Scottish Open.

Since his win at the Players Championship, the putter has been Thomas’ real hinderance with the American continually failing to capitalise on the myriad of opportunities he gives himself. However, there were plenty of signs at the Renaissance Club that he was, at least, starting to find his mojo again. He ranked 59th for Strokes Gained: Putting – a significant improvement on what he’d shown on the PGA Tour in the tournaments prior.

Interestingly, he ranked 100th for Strokes Gained: Approach, which was perhaps the key reason why he didn’t finish closer to the lead, but he ranked third in Strokes Gained: Tee To Green, so it’s not like his game isn’t trending in the right direction.

As mentioned, the rough at Royal St George’s is going to be some of the thickest we’ve seen in a long time at the Open, so the fact that Thomas ranked first in Strokes Gained Of The Tee and 11th in driving accuracy bodes very well on that score.

His tie for eighth last week was further evidence of his growing ability to play Links courses and he looked a big player at Portrush in 2019 before he fell away on Sunday. He looks primed for a bold showing again, especially if the putter gets hot, at 18/1.

Finally time for Louis?

The other player who looks of interest is Louis Oosthuizen at 35/1.

The South African, to the frustration of many, often flatters to deceive when in contention, but that’s perhaps a tad harsh given his performances in Majors this year. He ran into an inspired Phil Mickelson at the PGA Championship and then didn’t do an awful lot wrong when again runner-up at the US Open behind Rahm.

For a player as naturally gifted as Louis to not have won since 2018 is pretty remarkable, but he’ll take great heart from the fact he keeps knocking on the door in these big events. He of course won this title in 2010 and was second in 2015, so is well-versed to the intricacies of Links golf.

He hasn’t missed a cut in 2021 and having taken a few weeks off for this, he should be fresh and ready to go.

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