British Open 2021 predictions, Open Championship odds: Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm picks from PGA insider

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CBS Sports 14 July, 2021 - 10:21pm 11 views

Who wins British Open?

The 2020 British Open was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the reigning champion remains Shane Lowry of Ireland. In the 2019 season, Lowry won over Tommy Fleetwood by a six-stroke margin over Tommy Fleetwood. DraftKings NationBritish Open 2021: Past winners, who has won it the most times, why no 2020 winner

What type of course is Royal St George?

It's essentially laid out as valleys between huge sand hills. It's a classic British links course. It might fairly be said that Sandwich is more at the high end of country club courses than a threat to crack the list of top 50 world courses, unlike others in the Open rota. Sports IllustratedAssessing Royal St. George's Place in the British Open Rota, and the Field of Contenders This Week

What time does British Open coverage start?

NBC and Golf Channel have live coverage of the British Open in 2021. The tournament starts on Golf Channel each morning before shifting to NBC for afternoon and evening coverage. 4 a.m. - 3 p.m. Sporting NewsBritish Open schedule 2021: Day-by-day TV coverage to watch on NBC, Golf Channel & stream online

The 2021 Open Championship will begin on Thursday, with Royal St. George's Golf Club hosting the oldest major in golf for a 15th time. In typical British Open fashion, plenty of wind could occur with the course situated on the southeast coast of England and the 2021 Open Championship forecast is calling for a steady 15 mph breeze throughout the week. That would appear to be a disadvantage for American golfers, who have won the Open Championship just four times since 2007 and are typically unaccustomed to links courses.

Jon Rahm grew up in Spain but moved to America to play college golf at Arizona State. He's listed as the 7-1 favorite in the 2021 Open Championship odds from William Hill Sportsbook. Other 2021 Open Championship contenders include Bryson DeChambeau (14-1), Dustin Johnson (15-1), Rory McIlroy (16-1), Brooks Koepka (16-1) and Xander Schauffele (16-1). Before you lock in any 2021 Open Championship picks or make any golf predictions, you need to see who red-hot golf insider Sal Johnson is backing.

A media legend and consummate golf insider, Johnson knows what it takes to win on the tough links courses across the pond. Before the 2018 British Open, the expert was locked in on Francesco Molinari as a top contender. 

"Look at what he has done in the last five weeks," Johnson told SportsLine before that event, "this guy is on fire and that could include and spill over to this week."

The result? Molinari went out and shot 65 in the third round and posted a bogey-free 69 on Sunday to win his first major championship by two strokes. He is the only Italian player to win a major title.

In 2017, he said of Jordan Spieth, "if he putts well, watch out for him." The Texan did just that, shooting a pair of 65s to take his first British Open and his third major overall.  

Johnson also has a tremendous feel for when momentum will propel a player to victory. Before the U.S. Open, he pegged Rahm among his best bets to win and touted Louis Oosthuizen at 45-1 as his top long-shot candidate. Rahm and Oosthuizen battled to the finish, with Rahm surging to his first major title.

Johnson has been on fire all season. Before the Memorial, he had Rahm and Collin Morikawa listed among his best bets. Rahm had a six-stroke lead after the third round but had to withdraw, and Morikawa dueled to the end with Patrick Cantlay before falling in a playoff. Anyone who has followed Johnson's advice has cashed in huge.

Now Johnson, the first producer of "Inside the PGA Tour," a longtime ABC Sports golf producer who worked with Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Greg Norman, and the founder of the world's top golf stats database, has released his highly confident Open Championship 2021 picks, and they will surprise you. You can only get those picks and Johnson's 2021 Open Championship expert predictions and analysis at SportsLine.

Shockingly, the golf expert is fading DeChambeau, who could find himself in a lot of trouble at Royal St. George's. He knows the big-hitter is capable of anything, but the rough will be thick and wreak havoc on his wedge game. The 27-year-old leads the tour in driving distance (321.9), but is 189th in accuracy, hitting the fairway less than 54 percent of the time. DeChambeau overcame the rough at Winged Foot to win the U.S. Open in September, but Johnson isn't willing to bet on him at the Open 2021. 

On the other hand, Johnson knows Rahm will be motivated after a strong seventh-place finish at last week's Scottish Open. The Spaniard lost his No. 1 ranking despite that result, and his frustration on the greens in North Berwick was evident after he missed critical putts to fade on Sunday. He should come out with laser focus as he seeks his second straight major, and his stats are tough to match. He has 11 top-10 finishes in 18 events and leads the tour in scoring average (69.602) and total driving and is fifth in greens in regulation (71.04 percent).

Johnson moved back up to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking last week and should be able to draw on a strong experience at Royal St. George's Golf Club in the 2011 Open Championship. Johnson finished tied for second that week and has managed to put together three top-10s at the British Open. Unfortunately, Johnson hasn't been playing his best golf, finishing inside the top 10 just once and missing two cuts in his last 10 starts. He hasn't finished inside the top 50 in his last three Open Championship starts.

Johnson is backing a major long shot who comes in around 50-1 odds for the 2021 Open Championship. This veteran is trending in the right direction and has found success at the Open Championship before. He could pull off a stunning victory this week, and anyone who backs this underdog could cash in huge. He's only offering these picks at SportsLine.

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Why Are There More Successful Older Golfers Today?

The New York Times 15 July, 2021 - 08:27am

They have learned to stay fit and play smarter. And the British Open seems to be their fountain of youth.

From the 18th fairway in the final group of the British Open in 2009, Tom Watson, the five-time Open champion, hit a shot that flew right at the pin. For a moment, it looked like Watson, then age 59, would win the tournament for a record sixth time and become the oldest player to win a major championship.

A firm bounce sent the ball off the back of the green, and Watson needed three more shots to get the ball into the hole. That dropped him into a tie for first. In the four-hole playoff, he ran out of gas and lost by six shots.

A decade ago, the idea of an older golfer contending in, let alone winning, a major championship was something few considered. That was still the time when most golfers petered out in their mid-40s and kicked around the golf world before having a brief resurgence on the Champions Tour when they turned 50.

The man who beat Watson that day, Stewart Cink, is now part of a group of professional golfers defying age and expectation to contend and win tournaments and majors. Cink, 48, has won twice this season on the PGA Tour, his first wins since the 2009 Open.

Leading these middle-age mavericks is Phil Mickelson, who, about to turn 51, won the P.G.A. Championship in May. He beat Brooks Koepka, a four-time major winner, and Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, who are both in their 30s.

The group also includes Lee Westwood, 48, who won his third Race to Dubai in 2020. He then finished second to Bryson DeChambeau at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and runner-up the next week at the Players Championship to Justin Thomas.

At last month’s United States Open, Richard Bland, 48, of England, became the oldest person to ever lead that tournament at the halfway mark. He had also been the oldest first-time winner on the European Tour, when he won the Betfred British Masters in May.

“All these guys have taken a new approach,” said Dave Phillips, co-founder of the Titleist Performance Institute, which focuses on golf and fitness. “There’s a lot of money out there. They realize they can still compete with the younger guys, but they need to spend more time on their body and what they fuel their body with.”

Phillips, who trains Jon Rahm, the 26-year-old winner of this year’s U.S. Open, has for years been part of Mickelson’s training team.

Cink, who is in the field this week at Royal St. George’s, said his two wins this season could not be attributed to any one thing. “Being 47, 48, just doesn’t feel like I thought it might feel when I was 28,” he said. “My heart and mind make me feel like I’m 10, 15 years younger.”

He credits club technology, but also the fitness regimen that players who came up with Tiger Woods embraced to compete against him.

Westwood said he had always worked on being fit, and it has paid off. But he also knows his limits.

“Everyone talks about how far Bryson hits it, and he hits it miles,” Westwood said. “If you’re younger you might try to keep up with him. At 47, 48, you’re wiser and more knowledgeable. I couldn’t keep up with him if I wanted to. But I can hit it first and closer to the pin and put a bit of pressure on him.”

Often it is the people helping veteran players who keep them going. Cink credits his son Reagan, who has been his caddie this year. “He does relax me, but it’s so much more than that,” Cink said. “He’s learned to approach golf like I do. It’s like having another tour player right beside me.”

The emphasis is on conserving mental energy on the course. The night before a tournament round, Cink and his son look at the next day’s pin placements on the greens and map a strategy for each hole.

“I make it an absolute priority to minimize the energy expenditure when I’m out there on the course,” he said. “I don’t have that reservoir of energy anymore. When you fatigue a bit, your decision making suffers.”

Westwood and his caddie Helen Storey married in June. She has been on his bag consistently since he began to play well last year. “She’s my on-course psychologist,” he said.

Since she does not have a golf background, he calculates his yardages himself and is responsible for his club selection. While caddies normally do that, they can also disagree with their players causing uncertainty. That variable is gone for Westwood. “I just work it out myself,” he said.

Mickelson has been very public about his training regimen, including how he hits “bombs” — his term for the very long drives he hits past younger players. But he is also making better decisions on the course, Phillips said, like his strategic play in winning the P.G.A. Championship this year. (His caddie is his brother, Tim.)

Phillips said what Mickelson and the others were doing provided lessons for older golfers. “It’s not strength, but the recovery and the downtime that matter,” he said. “It’s letting your body recover. Everyone wants to get fitter, stronger, faster. They’re upset when they don’t see the results. But what they’re doing is fatiguing to the body more so than a round of golf.”

Crucial for older players? Maintain leg strength, Phillips said, and that means walk, don’t ride, when you play golf.

“There’s no doubt when I came out on tour in 1996 generally you were thought to retire from professional golf in your mid-30s and take a club professional job,” said Padraig Harrington, 49, winner of three majors and the European captain for the Ryder Cup this year. “Then more money came into the game. And now there is no job that would pay you as well as being on tour.”

Of course, earning money and winning are very different things, he said. When the players he competed with in their prime win today, he attributes it to their ability to focus on that moment.

“One of the big things you see with Phil, myself, Lee Westwood is when we’re not in contention it’s tough,” he said. “When we do get into contention, we get back into it. We’re much better when we’re in contention than when we’re in that gray zone. Sunday when there’s a bit of energy, we get going.”

It is experience, for sure, but that is a double-edged sword: With age, players are more knowledgeable about the nuances of the game and have, in theory, a better psychological understanding of what to do. But they have also failed to do that in similar moments in the past.

“The reason we’re going longer is we have the financial security to go longer,” he said “We also have the sports science to reinvent ourselves.”

If there ever was an annual fountain of youth, it is the British Open. “The Open is the best of all the tournaments for the older guys,” Harrington said. “It’s more about experience. There’s less physicality on an Open course than a typical stadium course. That’s why Tom Watson could compete at 59 years old at the Open.”

As for Cink, he said facing Watson, who is two decades his senior, in the playoff was actually calming. “As a fan I was consumed thinking, look at Watson go, but then I realized I was in contention,” Cink said. “The playoff almost felt like an out-of-body experience. I would have been sweating bullets, but having Watson involved kept me calm.”

british open 2021 Open Championship Bryson DeChambeau

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