Who will win The Open, 2022’s final men’s Major golf championship, at St Andrews?
Today’s Golfer’s 2022 Major coverage is brought to you in association with TaylorMade.
We’ve crunched the numbers, looked into our crystal golf ball and used a bit of gut feel to identify who will lift the Claret Jug, become Champion Golfer of the Year golf and the winner of the 150th Open on Sunday, July 17.
As well as bringing you all the stats and facts you need to pick your winner, we’ve got the views of some expert pundits, including Andrew Cotter, Ken Brown, and Rob Lee, and we’ve included all of the latest odds to help you decide who to back.
Be wary backing the favourites
Before you start lumping money on big names like DJ and Rory, consider this – the favourite or second favourite has only won The Open once since 2007.
What’s more, the average odds of an Open winner are around 62/1, more than double the average at the oh-so-predictable Masters and US Open.
In 2015 Zach Johnson was 80/1, while Louis Oosthuizen started the week at more than 200/1 in 2010. However, Tiger did win at St Andrews in both 2000 and 2005 when he was overwhelming favourite.
THE OPEN 2022: Hole-by-hole course guide to St Andrews
A wise head on old shoulders
Maturity counts for a lot at The Open, more so than at any other Major. Since 2011, the average age of the Champion Golfer of the Year is 34.5.
In fact, there have only been five instances where a player in his 40s has won a Major during that time, and four of those have come at The Open.
Which players are 34 and 35 at this year’s tournament? Billy Horschel, Shane Lowry, Seamus Power, and Ryan Fox.
Good form and links experience are crucial
While eight of the last nine champions had won earlier in the calendar year, all of them had played in The Open at least four times before tasting victory – and had all recorded at least one top 10 in the tournament prior to their win.
THE OPEN 2022: Full field and how they qualified
Length is not THAT important
Unlike the US Open, driving distance is not such a deciding factor on a links course. On average, the last 10 winners have ranked outside the top 25 in driving distance for the week.
Of greater importance is your ability to scramble well and get up and down from around the green. In each of the last eight Opens, the champion has ranked inside the top seven for the week in scrambling.
Good ball strikers always prosper
As with most Major Championships, the quality of a player’s iron play is perhaps the biggest determining factor in who comes out on top.
The last 10 champions have hit, on average, more than 72% of greens in regulation (GIR) and six of those players have ranked inside the top 12 for the week in GIR (Shane Lowry was top in 2019).
Currently, there are no players on the PGA Tour with 72% or more GIR this season. Scottie Scheffler is 1st at 71.73%, with Jon Rahm 2nd at 71.67%.
THE OPEN 2022: What does The Open champion win?
Repeat winners aren’t common
There have been 13 different winners from the last 13 Opens played. It’s hardly scientific, but if you like to have all the info before picking who to back you can rule out Collin Morikawa, Shane Lowry, Francesco Molinari, Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Zach Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Darren Clarke, Louis Oosthuizen and Stewart Cink. In fairness, you could probably have ruled a good few of those out without having read the stat.
A successful defence is a rarity
We’re not saying Morikawa won’t win The Open and keep the Claret Jug, but successful Open defences, certainly in the modern era, are rare.
Of the 149 Opens to be played, 21 have resulted in successful defences but 14 of those came in or before 1950 and 10 of those were before 1900. Only five players have retained the famous trophy since 1960 and only two have taken the Jug home for a second year since the turn of the century.
Padraig Harrington was the last man to successfully defend in 2008, while Tiger Woods also achieved the feat in 2006 having won the Claret Jug at St Andrews in 2005.
Before that, the last successful defence had been achieved by Tom Watson in 1983, 11 years after Lee Trevino had done so. Arnold Palmer went back-to-back in 1962, while Peter Thomson won The Open in three consecutive years from 1954-56.
Other players to have defended the title are Bobby Locke (1949, 1950), Walter Hagen (1928, 1929), Bobby Jones (1926, 1927), James Braid (1905, 1906), Harry Vardon (1898, 1899), John Henry Taylor (1894, 1895), Bob Ferguson (1880, 1881, 1882), Jamie Anderson (1877, 1878, 1879), Young Tom Morris (1868, 1869, 1870, 1871) and Old Tom Morris (1861, 1862).
Who are we backing to win The Open?
These are our picks to lift the trophy, listed in order of their odds with the bookies.
The redemption story – Rory McIlroy (10/1)
We know, we know, we said to be wary of backing the favourite. But just give us a minute to explain.
People remember the 63 and then the 80 Rory McIlroy shot as a fresh-faced youngster at the 2010 Open, but they forget that he recovered brilliantly to finish third. He did miss the 2015 Open after injuring himself playing football, but his body of work on the Old Course includes runner-up finishes in the two Dunhill Links he played between 2010 and 2015.
He’s openly professed his love for the course, wishes the tournament was here every year, and he’s been in superb form in 2022 with top-10 finishes at all three Majors, including a runner-up at the Masters. He leads the PGA Tour in scoring average from Ryder Cup teammate Matt Fitzpatrick, is in the top-five for driving distance, and only just outside the top-10 strokes gained for approach play and putting.
A victory for McIlroy at his favourite Open course in a year when he’s become the role model for the DP World and PGA Tours would please the R&A, Keith Pelley and Jay Monahan almost as much as it would please his adoring fans.
The Hot Streak – Xander Schauffele (16/1)
Coming into the tournament off three consecutive wins, at the Genesis Scottish Open, the Travelers Championship, and the JP McManus Pro-Am (if you count that) you can’t ignore the game’s most in-form player in Xander Schauffele. Many will say there’s no chance anyone wins four events in a row (or even three if you dismiss the JP McManus Pro-Am), but the 28-year-old American won’t be one of them.
Schauffele hasn’t finished outside the top-18 in his last seven starts, including those three victories. He finished tied second at the 2018 Open and, if he does manage to continue his red hot form, could well go one better at St Andrews.
The comeback kid – Jordan Spieth (18/1)
His practice swing looks a sight and his putter still isn’t as hot as it was a few years ago, but, as he’s showing at the Scottish Open, you’d be a fool to ever write off Jordan Spieth in a Major. You’d be even more foolish to write him off in The Open at St Andrews where he finished fourth in 2015.
The big fairways will be to his liking and having grown up in Texas, he knows how to handle the windy conditions. Besides, he’s never finished worse than 30th in the last six Opens and lifted the trophy at Birkdale in 2017.
The short game king – Shane Lowry (22/1)
Shane Lowry looks a steal at odds of 22-1. The 2019 champion loves the Old Course, has three top-six finishes at the Dunhill Links (including last year), and is playing some of the best golf of his life.
Add in the fact he’s one of the very best players with a wedge in his hand, knows how to win an Open (especially one on a special occassion) and that he’s notched five top-10 finishes in his last 10 strokeplay events and we can’t help but feel another big win is just around the corner for the Irish Ryder Cup star.
The Open 2022: “Winning The Open hasn’t changed me”
Major form – Cameron Smith (28/1)
He’s won two big-name tournaments already this year and has built a reputation for being one of the best putters on the planet, performed superbly at Augusta, and ranks inside the top 40 for three-putt avoidance and strokes gained around the greens in four of the last five seasons – two metrics which are especially key at St Andrews.
The Aussie’s form hasn’t been as good lately, but he’s a normally solid player in the wind and he’s definitely going to win a Major sooner rather than later. It will need to be sooner if Smith is to achieve his goal of reaching World No.1 by the end of the year.
The former champion – Louis Oosthuizen (50/1)
Louis Oosthuizen has replaced Tiger as the lord of this links. He won by seven strokes in 2010 and only Zach Johnson could better him in a play-off five years later.
He also led after 54 holes at Royal St George’s last year, so at the very least he’s a smart each-way bet at 40-1. You’ll get far shorter odds on the R&A being unhappy if a LIV Golf member wins their 150th Open.
Oosthuizen is excellent at controlling his ball flight and a sublime irons player, so it’ll be no surprise if he contends around here, especially if the wind blows.
A Family Affair – Ryan Fox (80/1)
We’ll be amazed if Fox doesn’t at least contend at St Andrews. The New Zealander has been in incredible form in 2022 with a win, three runner-up finishes (including at the Irish Open), and a 3rd to his name, along with two other top 10s. He’s only missed two cuts all year.
His form guide for his last ten starts reads 2-3-MC-2-54-T2-T8-T9-T15-1 and he is 35 years old (the average age of recent Open winners is 34.5).
Fox is a big hitter, capable of taking St Andrews apart when swinging well, and he loves links golf, He made his Open debut on the Old Course in 2015, finishing in a tie for 49th, played the course twice at the 2021 Dunhill Links (T54th) and has only missed one cut at the Major.
His best finish came in 2019 at Royal Portrush when he also set the record for the lowest back nine in the tournament’s history, birdieing six of his final seven holes to come home in 29 in his opening round.
Success on the biggest stage is in Fox’s blood. His father, Grant, won the inaugural Rugby World Cup with the New Zealand All Blacks in 1987, while grandfather Merv was captain of New Zealand’s test cricket team.
The Dunhill link – Danny Willett (150/1)
We had to double-take when we saw that Danny Willett is priced at 125-1. He’s a Major champion and a proven big-game player who won last year’s Dunhill Links, shooting rounds of 66-68 on the Old Course.
His form’s nothing to shout about, but he’s not missed a cut in his last six Open appearances and has two sixth-place finishes in that run. The first came at St Andrews in 2015. A decent outside bet.
Who are the pundits backing to win The Open?
Four of golf’s top television pundits discuss who they think will win the 150th tournament, who they’re backing as an outside bet, and whether Tiger can contend.
Ken Brown: Ever-popular commentator famed for his ‘Ken on the Course’ analysis. Played in five Ryder Cups and won four times on the European Tour.
Andrew Cotter: The Troon native is one of the BBC’s leading commentators – not only for golf but also rugby, tennis and athletics. Former TG columnist.
David Howell: Former Ryder Cupper and five-time winner on the European Tour. Still playing on the DP World Tour, he also provides insight for Sky Sports.
Rob Lee: Key member of the Sky Golf team who won twice on the European Tour and still jointly holds the lowest nine-hole score on Tour (27).
Who will lift the Claret Jug?
KB I have a feeling it will be Rory.
AC My home would very quickly be repossessed if I started betting on golf – it’s such a difficult sport to call. But let’s say Jordan Spieth for some decent memories from 2015 and the fact that he seems to be finding signs of life again.
DH I’m going to say Jon Rahm. I quite fancy him along with Xander Schauffele and anyone who hasn’t been conflicted with the LIV Golf stuff. Players who’ve got a clear mind about the history of the game will come out on top.
RL I made my predictions at the start of the year and I’m sticking with Jon Rahm, mainly because of his ability to hit flat shots when he needs to.
THE OPEN 2022: The History of the Claret Jug
What about a good outside bet?
KB Tyrrell Glen Hatton.
AC Let’s say Dean Burmester. I’ve no idea why, just that a South African always seems to feature in The Open… and I’ll appear very wise if it comes off.
DH Who knows? You could pick anyone in the field though it would be lovely to see a Cinderella story, to see someone virtually unknown come through like Steven Bottomley did at the 1995 Open at St Andrews (he finished third).
RL That’s a tough one. Sam Burns is an unbelievably talented player and I think he’s got a really good future.
Can Tiger win it again?
KB Yes! It’s a flat walk if you keep out of the bunkers and he knows how to do that.
AC With Tiger you never rule anything out and the Old Course suits him, but no, I don’t think so. After the Masters I might have thought it possible, but he looked broken at the PGA.
DH I’m sure Tiger will be there and if he’s fit enough he can get round the Old Course in a heartbeat. What he’s recovered from is remarkable and he’s still a million miles away from being his best, but you wouldn’t put it past him.
RL Yes. It’s a course that he understands and though there may be a question mark about his stamina, he’s got so many shots. He won’t be going to St Andrews for the bunting… he’s going there to win.
THE OPEN 2022: Legends – Tiger Woods
Where do you expect most of the drama to unfold?
KB The Old Course without wind is going to be vulnerable against the world’s best; it’ll be like Tyson Fury fighting me. However, the Road Hole (17th) can deliver a big punch when you least need it and if you find a difficult spot in a deep pot, that can count you out.
AC Possibly the 12th – a hole that doesn’t really offer an obvious solution off the tee and we’ve seen a few finding the bushes there in the past. But more obviously, it has to be the Road Hole.
DH Hopefully the 17th will have a role to play, but in a nice way with someone doing something amazing and not a collapse. These days the 18th is eminently reachable if the wind is in the right direction, so you might see something amazing on there as well.
RL Sixteen is a deceptively tricky hole depending on wind direction and that green is a horrible little thing, while 17 in horrible conditions is a par 5. If you finish 4-5-4 into a breeze, that’s about par.
Are you worried the big hitters will tear the Old Course apart?
KB Not worried, just a little saddened that this year’s competitors will not experience the sheer joy I had playing the 1978 Open, when a good drive went 260 yards. The Old Course was tactically captivating and mentally, it was totally absorbing. It was brilliant! The best on The Open rota.
AC If the conditions are favourable they will go low, though the pins really can be tucked away. But that’s links golf; it always depends on the wind for defence. Perhaps if somebody shoots 60 round the Old Course they’ll finally say enough is enough with technology.
DH It’s all wind and pin position-dependent. I’m not as fearful as many are that it will get torn to shreds because you can put pins at St Andrews where basically you can’t make birdie, so I’m not particularly worried that it will get completely trashed. Bryson has tried to take on certain courses, including Augusta, in that way and it hasn’t worked.
I don’t necessarily think St Andrews will be any different.
THE OPEN 2022: Best merchandise and souvenirs
Who are the bookies’ favourites to win The Open?
* Odds correct as of 6.30pm on July 8 2022
10/1 Rory McIlroy
14/1 Jon Rahm
16/1 Scottie Scheffler
18/1 Justin Thomas; Matt Fitzpatrick
20/1 Jordan Spieth; Xander Schauffele
25/1 Collin Morikawa; Will Zalatoris; Cameron Smith
30/1 Dustin Johnson
33/1 Tyrrell Hatton; Patrick Cantlay
35/1 Sam Burns
40/1 Louis Ooosthuizen; Hideki Matsuyama; Viktor Hovland; Brooks Koepka
45/1 Tommy Fleetwood
50/1 Justin Rose; Joaquin Niemann
60/1 Tiger Woods
66/1 Sungjae Im; Bryson DeChambeau
80/1 Robert MacIntyre; Ryan Fox; Adam Scott; Seamus Power; Gary Woodland
90/1 Cameron Young; Marc Leishman; Paul Casey; Corey Conners; Max Homa
100/1 Patrick Reed; Abraham Ancer; Billy Horschel; Mito Perreira; Cameron Tringale
110/1 Sergio Garcia; Luca Herbert; Branden Grace
125/1 Lee Westwood; Harold Varner III
150/1 Padraig Harrington
160/1 Francesco Molinari
200/1 Ian Poulter; Phil Mickelson
250/1 Richard Bland; Adria Arnaus; Zach Johnson
300/1 Marcus Armitage
1000/1 Darren Clarke; Paul Lawrie; John Daly
2000/1 Ben Curtis; Todd Hamilton
THE OPEN 2022