British Open 2022 picks, predictions & best bets from golf expert Diane Knox Balas

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Diane Knox Balas

Golf · 1 month ago

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Golf analyst for Pickswise.

Back-to-back weeks watching golf in Scotland is absolute bliss for me! Being a Scot living in Florida, I miss the motherland all the time and it’s really lovely to be able to relish in the rugged landscapes and enjoy some pure golf from early in the morning into the afternoon. Plus, this is one of the greatest weeks of all time. 

It’s the 150th Open Championship at The Old Course, St Andrews — the Home of Golf. The final men’s major of 2022 is loaded with prestige, history and an unfiltered appreciation for both the course and the championship. Plus, it’s a real celebratory milestone with this being the 150th iteration. 

Tiger Woods is back in action this week, having skipped the U.S. Open and withdrawn before the final round of the PGA Championship. This has to be the one he’s been looking forward to for a long time, having lifted the Claret Jug there in 2000 and 2005. Louis Oosthuizen and Zach Johnson have also won The Open in St Andrews.

The Old Course, St Andrews: What you need to know

The Old Course poses a unique challenge. It’s unlike any other golf course in the world, and that’s just part of the reason why it’s so special. It’s a par 72 and plays just over 7,300 yards. And that’s it – there’s zero room for expansion. The views are incredible, the fans are passionate and the course will be a true test in so many ways.

The course originally consisted of 22 holes, but in 1764 it transformed into the traditional 18, with the fairways widened and the greens enlarged. It really is a tale of two nines with the front nine holes heading out towards the water, and then golfers literally make the turn and head back home. However, before the turn is made, 6 holes make up ‘the loop’, and the only par-3s are situated there — holes 8 and 11. The par-4s are short, and there are only two par-5s on the course.

A lot of the large greens are used on dual holes — only the 1st, 9th, 17th and 18th holes have single greens. The green that’s used for the 7th and 11th holes is 112 yards wide! Golfers have to pay attention to ensure they’re shooting at the correct pin, but the front pin flags are white, while the back-nine flags are red – apart from the 18th, where a white flag flaps in the wind to ensure it stands out against the grand red building that sits behind it.

Experience around The Old Course counts for a lot. Players have to navigate a lot of blind shots, undulated fairways, a lot of humps and bumps and hidden bunkers, and it can be a very frustrating place, especially when the turf is firm. In total, golfers have to deal with 110 bunkers and one is, very aptly named Hell. It sits on the 14th hole, is 300 square yards and 100 yards deep. You can see how it earned its name – and you will see how it lives up to its reputation!

There are no trees on the course and it feels extremely wide open, which can be deceptive. However, there are a lot of gorse bushes that need to be avoided at all costs, and most of the trouble is up the right-hand side. The players really have to take on the trouble to maximize scoring opportunities. 

The 17th hole, or the Road Hole, notoriously plays as the most difficult on the course. Players are basically hitting their tee shots over the sheds of The Old Course Hotel, and many balls have ended up on hotel room balconies! The Road Hole Bunker has even been named the most notorious golf hazard in the world.

The entire course is completely exposed, with nothing to protect players from the unpredictable Scottish wind and weather conditions. Scotland has been basking in sunshine, so I’ve heard the course is playing really firm and fast, and appears pretty baked out. We’re going to see a lot of bump ‘n’ run shots up to the greens. Just like we saw last week, the wind will cause havoc and you should expect it to blow a lot stronger than the forecasts state.

I’m looking at solid driving stats, creative approach play, good wind technique and great putters to prevail this week, along with some St Andrews experience.

Read our golf betting guide to learn about the markets available for the 150th Open Championship

Tiger Woods’ chances at the 150th Open

Tiger Woods is back in a place he loves. He won at The Old Course in 2000 with a final score of -19, and in 2005 at -14. Woods has pretty much dominated in St Andrews, winning by eight strokes in 2000, and five strokes five years later.

On Saturday night, late in the bright Scottish night, Tiger walked the course with just his wedge and putter (and Justin Thomas), and on Sunday he played all 18.

St Andrews is a relatively flat walk, aside from some bumps and tricky bunker lies. However, reports suggest Tiger looked pretty uncomfortable at times on Sunday, and having watched him compete in the JP McManus Pro-Am last week, the pain seems to be affecting him. When asked about his desire to compete this week, he said “I want to be able to give it at least one more run at a high level”.

It sure is going to be wonderful to watch him play, but this week I’m not picking him. In a way, I really hope that comes back to bite me in the butt! He’s available at +6000 on BetMGM, and on DraftKings Sportsbook he’s +550 to finish in the top 10.

Knox’s Knockout 2022 British Open Championship picks

Rory McIlroy (+1000) FanDuel

I decided after Rory’s Sunday run at the Masters that he was my pick to lift the Claret Jug this week, and my arguments for that have only strengthened. He skipped the Scottish Open last week — he was the only player in the OWGR top 15 to do so — and he obviously thought his preparation would be better off for it. He’s been in excellent form, has great (winning) experience playing links golf and possesses that power off the tee that will set him up for birdie and eagle chances around St Andrews. 

Jordan Spieth (+1600) DraftKings

Jordan Spieth plus The Open seems to be a match made in heaven. He became the Champion Golfer of the Year in 2017, and just missed out on a place in the playoff in St Andrews in ’15. He’s never missed the cut at The Open, and has one win and a runner-up finish combined with two other top-10 finishes. Spieth played great in the Scottish Open last week and finished T10 after a testing bunch of holes coming down the stretch. He grinds, he battles and he pulls off some sort of magic around the greens, and all of that plays into the winning formula at St Andrews.

Max Homa (+6000) Bet365

I really like Max Homa to play well this week. Granted, he doesn’t have the experience in St Andrews that I talked about earlier, but he’s enjoying Scottish golf and relishing the challenge that the links presents. He ended up finishing T16 last week after a few dropped shots coming down the stretch at the Renaissance Club, but I loved the fact that, after making the cut, he went to another nearby course and played 18! He’s having a great season with two wins and four top-10s, and I feel his game has major champion written all over it.

Billy Horschel (+12000) FanDuel

Billy Horschel has had recent experience playing in St. Andrews, having competed in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last October and shooting -4 around The Old Course. He’s playing well, coming off a recent win at Memorial and has notched up five top-10s this season. With excellent around-the-green and putting stats, he could be a nice longshot this week in St Andrews.

Lock in Diane’s best Top 5 and Top 10 bets for the British Open this week

Pickswise is the home of free expert Golf picks and Golf predictions. Our PGA expert picks go live every Monday or Tuesday, so check out our latest golf picks, best bets and analysis for this week’s tournament now.

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