149th Open Championship Primer: History, TV, Field, Odds

17th Hole at 149th Open Championship St George's
General view of the 17th green during a practice round for The 149th Open at Royal St George’s Golf Club on July 12, 2021 in Sandwich, England. (Photo by Harry Trump for R&A via Getty Images)

The fourth and final major of 2021 is upon us, as the British Open Championship (also known as the 149th Open Championship) gets underway this week at Royal St George’s in Sandwich, England.

The iconic golf course, which sits on the southeast coast of England, will host The OPEN for the fifteenth time.

A field comprised of the game’s biggest names, including defending champion Shane Lowry, will be teeing it up at the layout designed by Laidlaw Purves in 1887.

Lowry will be joined by a bevy of top-ranked stars including all of the top-10 (in order): Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, and Tyrrell Hatton.

Other familiar names who are considered serious threats include Rory McIlroy, Louis Oosthuizen, Webb Simpson, Daniel Berger, Viktor Hovland, Tony Finau, Scottie Scheffler, Matthew Fitzpatrick, and Jordan Spieth, among others.

The Skinny

Tournament: The Open Championship
Dates: July 15-18, 2021
Where: Sandwich, Kent, England
Course: Royal St George’s
Distance: Par 70, 7204 yards
Architect: Laidlaw Purves (1887)
Format: 72-hole stroke play (36 cut)
Purse: $11,500,000
Winning Share: $2,070,000
FedExCup/OWGR Points: 600/100
Defending Champion: Shane Lowry (2019)

How to Follow The Open Championship

Brooks Koepka
Brooks Koepka and his caddy Ricky Elliot on the 6th tee box ahead of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush GC on July 16, 2019 in Portrush, Northern Ireland. Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

TELEVISION: Thu: 1:30-4 a.m. (Peacock), 4 a.m.-3 p.m. (GOLF), 3-4 p.m. (Peacock); Sat: 5-7 a.m. (GOLF), 7 a.m.-3 p.m. (NBC); Sun: 4-7 a.m. (GOLF), 7 a.m.-2 p.m. (NBC)



LINKS: TheOpen.com | The Open on Instagram | The Open on Facebook | The Open on Youtube | Official App

Open Championship History

Seve Ballesteros
Seve Ballesteros holds the Claret Jug following his victory during The 113th Open Championship held on the Old Course at St Andrews, from July 19-22,1984 in St Andrews, Scotland. (Photo by R&A via Getty Images)

The oldest of the four majors, The Open Championship has humble roots that date all the way back to 1860. The inaugural tournament featured a small handful of professionals playing three 12-hole rounds in one day at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland.

That first Open was won by Willie Park Sr., who finished the event in 174 strokes (this was back even before pars were a thing).

The early winners were awarded a red belt, known as the Challenge Belt, but the event had to come up with something new after the legendary Young Tom Morris was able to invoke a myopic condition where a player with three consecutive Open victories gets to keep the belt.

The belt became a medal, and as the tournament increased in prestige and participation, the ultimate prize became the Claret Jug, one of the greatest symbols of achievement in the world of elite-level sports.

Jack Nicklaus Wins 1978 British Open
Jack Nicklaus is presented with the Claret Jug after winning the 1978 British Open at St. Andrews, Scotland. (Photo by Bob Thomas Sports Photography via Getty Images)

The Open Championship’s illustrious list of winners includes both of the Tom Morrises (Old and Young), Harry Vardon, Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros, Tiger Woods, and Phil Mickelson, among others.

Vardon is the tournament’s all-time leader in wins with six, followed by James Braid, John Henry Taylor, Peter Thomson and Watson with five a piece. In all, 27 players have won multiple Open Championships.

Royal St George’s is the host venue of The Open for the 15th time – the first since 2011 when Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke claimed his one and only major title.

History: Recent Winners

2019: Shane Lowry (-15)
2018: Francesco Molinari (-8)
2017: Jordan Spieth (-12)
2016: Henrik Stenson (-20)
2015: Zach Johnson (-15)
2014: Rory McIlroy (-17)
2013: Phil Mickelson (-3)
2012: Ernie Els (-7)
2011: Darren Clarke (-5)

History: Records

264 – Henrik Stenson (2016)

197 – Shane Lowry (2019)

130 – Nick Faldo (1992)
130 – Brandt Snedeker (2012)

62 – Branden Grace (2017)

Youngest – Young Tom Morris (17.5, 1868)
Oldest – Old Tom Morris (46.3, 1867)

6 – Harry Vardon (1896, 1898-99, 1903, 1911, 1914)
5 – James Braid (1901, 1905-06, 1908, 1910)
5 – John Henry Taylor (1894-95, 1900, 1909, 1913)
5 – Peter Thomson (1954-56, 1958, 1965)
5 – Tom Watson (1975, 1977, 1980, 1982-83)

4 – Young Tom Morris (1868-70, 72)*
3 – Peter Thomson (1954-56)
3 – Bob Ferguson (1880-82)
3 – Jamie Anderson (1877-79)
* No tournament in 1871

1912 Ted Ray (+11)
1927 Bobby Jones (-3)
1932 Gene Sarazen (-5)
1934 Henry Cotton (+3)
1973 Tom Weiskopf (-12)
2005 Tiger Woods (-14)
2014 Rory McIlroy (-17)

Open Championship Power Rankings

Justin Thomas 149th Open Power Rankings 2021
Justin Thomas plays a shot from the 1st tee during a practice round for The 149th British Open Golf Championship at Royal St George’s, Sandwich, England on July 12, 2021. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS AFP via Getty Images)

The power rankings for the final major offer no huge surprises other than maybe world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and No. 6 Bryson DeChambeau ranked outside the top 12.

Four-time major winner, and world No. 8, Brooks Koepka is at the top of the list, with superstars Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa, and Jon Rahm firmly entrenched in the top six.

Branden Grace, at No. 62, is the lowest ranked player on the list, and joins Russell Henley (55) as the only players ranked outside the world top-50. Meanwhile, Webb Simpson (15), Daniel Berger (16), and Tony Finau (17) were the only top-20 ranked players not appearing on our list of 25.

Power Rank-Player (World Rank)
25. Scottie Scheffler (19)
24. Joaquin Niemann (26)
23. Phil Mickelson (32)
22. Russell Henley (55)
21. Tommy Fleetwood (35)
20. Bryson DeChambeau (6)
19. Matt Fitzpatrick (20)
18. Adam Scott (43)
17. Patrick Reed (9)
16. Branden Grace (62)
15. Rory McIlroy (11)
14. Dustin Johnson (1)
13. Viktor Hovland (14)
12. Shane Lowry (44)
11. Patrick Cantlay (7)
10. Harris English (12)
9. Tyrrell Hatton (10)
8. Jordan Spieth (23)
7. Paul Casey (21)
6. Justin Thomas (3)
5. Collin Morikawa (4)
4. Xander Schauffele (5)
3. Jon Rahm (2)
2. Louis Oosthuizen (13)
1. Brooks Koepka (8)

Read Joel Cook’s Open Championship Power Rankings full article.

Open Championship Odds

Jon Rahm
Jon Rahm watches his tee shot from the 10th tee box during a practice round ahead of the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush on July 16, 2019 in Portrush, Northern Ireland. Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The favorite this week in southeast England is world No. 2 Jon Rahm, who enters off his first major victory at the U.S. Open. The 26-year old Spaniard is the heavy odds-on favorite, and listed at 7-1 to claim his second major. He’s far ahead of Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy who are offered at 16-1.

Jordan Spieth, the 2017 Open Champion, has odds of 18-1, alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, and Xander Schauffele.

Top-5 Betting Favorites

1. Jon Rahm (7-1)
2. Brooks Koepka (16-1)
2. Rory McIlroy (16-1)
4. Jordan Spieth (18-1)
4. Dustin Johnson (18-1)
4. Xander Schauffele (18-1)
4. Justin Thomas (18-1)

Full Field & Odds

Joel Cook contributed to this preview.


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