The 150th British Open begins Thursday July 14 on the most historic of courses, the Old Course in Saint Andrews, where golf was born. The stars are there, and the show promises to be dazzling, perhaps for the last time. The shadow of the lucrative dissident Super League LIV hangs over the British tournament, raising fears of an absence of big names in golf in future editions. Franceinfo: sport tells you more about the 2022 event which could be historic in more ways than one.
1What is the route?
The British Open, or more soberly The Open, takes place every five years on the father of all courses, the Old Course of Saint Andrews, a windswept beachfront course (a links) dotted with a cloud of small bunkers (112 in all) very deep and very well placed.
In Saint Andrews, golf has been played since the 15th century. This historic course, whose route dates back to the middle of the 18th century, has become a bit short for players and equipment. “We can get closer to the greens with the driver, but that does not mean that we will continue with birdies”, warns Rory McIlroy, the former world No. 1. He nevertheless expects the scores to be low, but, he warns, the course will become “very tricky at the weekend”.
2What is the impact of Super League LIV on the event?
The shine of this Great Britain Open history is tarnished by the conflict between the traditional pro circuit PGA and the dissident Super League (LIV). The latter debauches headliners with its barrels of Saudi petrodollars. While the qualification system for Majors is based on world rankings, players who joined the LIV were to be deprived of points. However, the organizers of the British accepted this year.
The LIV project was permanently condemned by Tiger Woods. The American legend has denounced golfers who join the competing circuit, a decision “incomprehensible” to his eyes. “They have turned their backs on what got them to where they are.” Among the targeted athletes, Dustin Johnson, Lee Westwood, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed may be playing The Open for the last time. “It would be better if the winner was not involved in the LIV”says ex-world number 1 Rory McIlroy.
3Who are the main contenders?
Winner last year, American Collin Morikawa (25, world No. 4) defended his title and wants to recover the trophy he had to return to the organizers on Monday, as tradition requires. Irishman Rory McIlroy (world No. 2), winner in 2014 at Royal Liverpool, has not won a Major since the PGA Championship the same year. But he has just finished in the Top 8 of the first three Majors of the year, confirming his return to form. American Scottie Scheffler, world No. 1, won four of the biggest tournaments of the season, including the Masters. The British Matt Fitzpatrick (world No. 10) intended his part to continue after his triumph at the US Open last month.
The American Justin Thomas (world No. 5), engaged in the LIV and winner of the PGA Championship for the second time in May, hopes to win the British tournament for the first time. Tyrrell Hatton (world No. 28), a member of the European Ryder Cup team, was his first Major on the course where the Englishman twice won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. The young American Will Zalatoris (25, world No. 13) is now among the possible winners, after finishing 6th in the Masters then 2nd in the PGA Championship (beaten in the play-off by Thomas) and the US Open.
Finally, the Tiger is back. After the terrible car accident in which he almost left his right leg in February 2021, the 46-year-old American (world No. 974) has come a long way. “To be here, for my sixth Open at Saint Andrews, able to play on this course, it’s fantastic”he explains. In 2000, for his first victory at the British Open, winning the 4th of his 15 Majors, the greatest champion in the history of golf achieved the feat of avoiding 112 bunkers during the four rounds.
As his swing is not in question, Rory McIlroy is convinced that Woods has a card to play for the victory: “It’s going to be a game of chess and in the last twenty years no one has been as good at this kind of game of chess on a golf course as Tiger.”