Original article published 17 October 2022
The Open Championship is set to start early on Thursday morning and, as ever, there are some interesting three-balls to follow across the first round.
150th Open Championship
Old Course, St Andrews, Scotland
Thursday 14th-Sunday 17th July 2022
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Golf punters could get their Open Championship off to a bright start by backing Ashley Chesters at 9/4 to defeat Garrick Higgo and Minkyu Kim.
Chesters relishes the challenge of St Andrews, which he has played since his amateur days, and he finished 12th as an amateur in the 2015 Open there.
The firm and fast conditions this week will have Chesters licking his lips, as his short but straight game should be effective.
There is so much run on the ball at the Old Course, which is already browning over in places, that Chesters can get himself into position to attack pins like everyone else.
Higgo has been in woeful form this year, missing 10 cuts and slipping outside the top 100 in the world rankings, while Kim is lacking links experience.
The Old Course at St Andrews provided the scene for Victor Perez's career highlight - his DP World Tour breakthrough in the 2019 Dunhill Links Championship.
The Dundee-based Frenchman has become extremely comfortable on Scottish links terrain and will tee off in The Open without any fear.
Given how bright Perez has been over the last couple of months, he can be expected to boss his threeball with Mackenzie Hughes and Scott Vincent and come out on top at 5/4.
Perez won the Dutch Open at the end of May and nearly followed up in the European Open the following week. With his swing returning to its brilliant best, allied to his affection for St Andrews, this crisp ball-striker should be in for a positive week in his adopted homeland.
Tournament favourite Rory McIlroy has a lot of pressure on his shoulders, but that weight of expectation is built on the fact he has total control over every department of his game, and it seems likely the little master will make early strides.
McIlroy famously fired a 63 on the opening day of the last Open he played at St Andrews, despite missing a short birdie putt at the 17th, and the Northern Irishman will feel he can conjure something similar unless the wind blows.
His playing partners - Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa - may be more tentative in the early stages given they have never competed at St Andrews before. Scottish Open champion Schauffele has obviously been in red-hot form, but he had only three days to settle at a track he saw for the first time on Monday, so McIlroy, at 13/10, seems the likely threeball chief here.
Victory in the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush injected Shane Lowry with an extra layer of self-belief and the Irishman will be expecting to contend throughout at the Home of Golf this week.
Lowry left the field for dead at Portrush, cruising to a six-shot triumph, confirming his love affair with links terrain. On this particular piece of coastline, he has excelled in the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews, and the firmer, faster conditions of a summer Open suit him even better.
Lowry has magic hands, able to get up and down from anywhere, and he can boss Justin Thomas and Viktor Hovland in their threeball at odds of 6/4.
Lowry has been in consistent form all season, finishing third in the JP McManus Pro-Am last time out. Thomas and Hovland, lacking much St Andrews experience, were both abysmal in the Scottish Open last week.
The 2010 Open at St Andrews was won at a canter by Louis Oosthuizen - and he underlined his love for the track when losing a playoff for the 2015 Open at Fife's most famous venue.
Oosthuizen seems a solid investment at 1/1 against Harris English and Keita Nakajima in their threeball. English has only recently returned from a long injury layoff, during which he had hip surgery, while Nakajima is an inexperienced Japanese amateur still learning the ropes.
Oosthuizen will expect to take command at such a happy hunting ground.
A final threeball option to consider is Laurie Canter at 4/5. He is a strong ball-striker who is good enough from tee to green to approach Major assignments with confidence.
Canter is a superior player to his Open playing partners Dimitrios Papadatos and Matthew Griffin. Canter tied for 48th place in his last Major - the US PGA Championship in May - and will expect to make the cut this week.