The 2013 Open Championship begins tomorrow, medical Thursday, July 18 at Muirfield Golf Links in Gullane, Scotland on the northeast coast of the United Kingdom. As golf’s oldest and toughest major with a pool of global competitors competing for the iconic Claret Jug, the Open is definitely one worth keeping up with this weekend.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Dating back to 1860, the Open Championship (commonly known as the British Open to differentiate from the US Open in the states) tests the best in the world with links style golf. Some have said the trick to this style is not just getting your ball on the green, but keeping it there.
The firm, fast golf course will be the first challenge. The second will be the unpredictable weather of the United Kingdom coast. Within the course of a few hours there can be sideways rain, howling winds, and clear skies with sunshine. As is the case with the US Open, this is not only a test of tremendous skill, but also of mental fortitude.
Muirfield has hosted the Championship 15 previous times. South African Ernie Els is the defending Champion in two regards.
Els won the Open Championship last year and also won in 2002 the last time the Championship was hosted at Muirfield.
WHO TO WATCH:
I sound like a broken record, but of course, Tiger Woods. Even though Woods was tremendously disappointing at the US Open with a t-32 finish, and has recently nursed a left-elbow injury, he still has the most wins on the PGA Tour and is still the #1 ranked golfer in the world. Woods tees off at 9:45 AM EST on Thursday with Graeme McDowell (2010 US Open Champion) and Louis Oosthuzien (2010 British Open Champion). The last time Woods has won an Open Championship were his back to back wins in 2005 and 2006.
Phil Mickelson has normally never faired well at these Championships. His best finishes in the last 12 years are only two top 10s. For one of the modern masters of short game this is surprising. This year Mickelson decided to get over to the UK early to get accustomed to conditions. He competed in the Scottish Open last weekend and pulled off a dramatic playoff victory. He is bringing the most confidence he’s ever had into an Open Championship.
Justin Rose and Adam Scott who have both won their first majors this year at the US Open and Masters respectively will be fan favorites. Rose became the first British US Open Champion in 17 years, he would love to continue that streak to win in his home country.
The dark horse for this year is Sir Nick Faldo. He won an Open Championship at Muirfield in 1992. The last time he won an major was in 1996. He is pictured to the right putting on Tiger Woods’ first green jacket in 1997 as is the tradition at the Masters.
The last time he competed in the Open Championship was 2008. Faldo has since taken a post in the announcers’ booth and covers the PGA Tour and Major Championships. He is 55 years old, but will be familiar at Muirfield. The past two years we have seen winners over 40, maybe this year we will witness one over 50.
WHEN TO WATCH:
ESPN has exclusive coverage of the Championship. To catch the first golfers you can pull an all-nighter or wake before the crack of dawn. You can always grab a cup of tee (in the British fashion) after to keep your day going after the broadcast. Unlike the other Championships, you can watch all the coverage in the morning on the weekends and then go out and play a round of golf afterwards. Perfection!
Thursday July 18: 3 AM – 2 PM (CDT)
Friday July 19: 3 AM – 2 PM (CDT)
Saturday July 20: 6 AM – 1:30 PM (CDT)
Sunday July 21: 5 AM – 12:30 PM (CDT)