A GLANCE through the list of winners at previous Opens held at Muirfield shows that this course is one that tends to reward only the very best players, and that is reflected in my tips for this year’s championship.
Last month’s US Open triumph at Merion constituted a huge breakthrough for Justin Rose, and I have never seen the Englishman look as happy as he did after landing that first Major of his career.
This week he has a great chance of making it back-to-back Majors. Rose has shown that he can now hold his nerve on the biggest occasions and the Muirfield course should suit his game beautifully.
My second tip may not have played since the US Open, where he was only tied for 32nd, because of a nagging elbow injury, but he is Tiger Woods and I would certainly not discount him.
Woods is a master of plotting his way around a golf course, as the 14-time Major winner demonstrated to great effect when he won his last Open title at Hoylake seven years ago.
Muirfield is another course that lends itself to such strategic manoeuvres – Nick Faldo won here in 1987 by making par at every single hole of his final round – so it could be ideal for Woods.
It may well also suit Lee Westwood. It’s a great course for great golfers, and he certainly is one. The Englishman has had seven top-three finishes in Majors without winning one, so he could be due one.
Beyond those three, Graeme McDowell’s recent form has veered from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again, but three wins in seven events speak volumes for just how well he can play. If the wind picks it up it could play right into the Northern Irishman’s hands.
Nobody’s form is hotter than Phil Mickelson’s right now, with the American having won last week’s Scottish Open and finished tied for second at the US Open, though I’m not sure this is the course for him.
Muirfield is ideal for Rory McIlroy, on the other hand, though the former world No1 has just not shown any form. From a betting point of view, he’s available for 28-1, and that certainly looks value.
Lastly, keep an eye out for American rising star Brooks Koepka. The 23-year-old has won three Challenge Tour events already this year, was tied 12th on his European Tour debut at the Scottish Open and, ability wise, I’m told he has got the lot.
Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam
On course design by Robert Trent Jones, JR
“The design process is similar to the way in which a great composer creates a symphony. A great course possesses an overall mood of rhythm that engenders feelings of anticipation mixed with nostalgia.”
On the memories golf creates by David Cannon
“Golf is such an intriguing sport. It has the ability to throw up the most unexpected but wonderful stories. It’s also the cruellest of sports, but that’s its ultimate appeal – the mix of emotions in a matter of yards and seconds.”
On my fondest memories of golf by Tony Jacklin
“Winning my Majors gave me great thrills and being captain for the first Ryder Cup win on American soil was a supreme moment. But one of my greatest moments dates from when I was a kid. I was self-taught and spent hundreds of hours hitting balls and working on my game, and to keep focused I imagined the likes of Ben Hogan and Sam Snead watching my every shot and asking myself what they would say. Then in 1970 I had the opportunity to play a practice round ahead of the PGA Championship in Tulsa with Ben Hogan. And I took five dollars off him! So that was a special time moment for me.”