Appleby confident of retaining his title

By Thomas Rooney on 29-Jul-2011

Defending champion Stuart Appleby is hoping a return to one of his favourite courses will help him regain his form at this week's Greenbrier Classic.

The 40-year-old fired a superb 59 on his way to victory at last week's tournament, edging out Ryder Cupper Jeff Overton by a single stroke.

However, the Australian has only had one top ten since his triumph and is hoping his return to White Sulphur Springs will help him rediscover his form. Those looking at Betfair on iPad should keep an eye on things.

"There's no doubt places do have vibes. I'd love for this place to be the same way for me," said Appleby, who became the fifth man to break the magic 60 barrier on the PGA Tour.

Appleby's score has prompted organisers to toughen up the West Virginia layout after what was an amazing weekend for scoring at last year's event. This year the players will face a longer, narrower tests, with firmer greens and thicker rough and Appleby feels it will be almost impossible for anyone to emulate his score from last year. People looking at Betfair on BlackBerry should bear this in mind.

"The course is nothing like last year. It's got to be three or four shots harder," added Appleby.

"There's a lot of golf course out there now. I don't see 59 there. Anyone shooting lower than a 65 has had a very good round of golf."

Appleby is likely to be one of the star attractions in West Virginian and has been grouped with four time Major champion Phil Mickelson as well as one of the true legends of the game Tom Watson for the opening two rounds.

Noren seals Swedish title

By Thomas Rooney on 25-Jul-2011

Home favourite Alexander Noren comfortably picked up his third European Tour title despite shooting a final round of 77 in Stockholm.

The Swede started the final round with an 11 shot lead after breaking the Bro Hof Slott Golf Club course record on Saturday and never looked in danger of losing his lead during the final round. Those following the Betfair sports betting will have been impressed by his efforts.

Strong winds produced difficult scoring conditions on Sunday with the average final score for the final round shooting up to 78 but Noren kept his cool in the wind, finishing in style with a birdie to seal victory in his home championships. Noren birdied the opening hole on Sunday but the wind wreaked havoc with his swing and he struggled to a 39 on the front nine but steadied the ship and remained cool throughout the back nine to maintain is lead.

Noren eventually finished with a seven shot lead over Englishman Richard Finch who produced a brilliant final round 69, the lowest round of the day despite a triple bogey at the 17th. American Ryder Cup stars Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson finished tied for sixth but the day belonged to Noren who won his second title of the season after winning the Wales Open earlier this year.

"I am so relieved" he told Sky Sports. "I've never seen wind like this in Sweden. Every hole was super tough and even downwind it was hard to choose the clubs."

It's even more amazing at home, everyone cheering you on and you don't really feel that somewhere else.

"It's amazing, you see some friendly faces in the crowd and it's unbelievable. I'm very happy."

Meanwhile, fans of Michael Vaughan cricket tips will be keeping a close eye on the England v India Test which looks set to reach a thrilling finale.

Americans' Open hopes fading

By Thomas Rooney on 15-Jul-2011

The United States of America, as one of the largest countries in the world, is perhaps ill at ease with being the underdog in sporting competition. However, the US showing at the Open Championship in 2011 could be rather lacklustre, when compared to that of the Europe.

Britain will field some of the best golfers in the world at Sandwich, including Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood, and Luke Donald. The USA, on the other hand, having lost their trump card, Tiger Woods, will be pinning hopes on Mickelson, John Deere Classic winner, Steve Stricker, Nick Watney, and Matt Kuchar.The Open 2011 golf odds suggest they could struggle.

That is not to say that Stricker and company are not excellent golfers but, if Luke Donald is to be believed, the Official World Golf Rankings give some indication of how well a country's representatives will perform at the Open Championship. The USA has no contenders in the top four of the Official World Golf Rankings; Europe holds all the cards, with Donald, Westwood, Kaymer, and McIlroy topping the leader board.

"World golf as a whole has become so much stronger," explained Phil Mickelson, who currently ranks sixth in the world. "International and European golf [is] top notch." The US media has written off Mickelson as a 'non-contender', due to his dire performance in the contest over the past two decades. Mickelson has achieved just one top-ten finish in the Open Championship since 1990.

Newspapers in the States fear that this week's event could represent "the Americans' least likely chance to break through". However, failure to claim the Claret Jug would not be a 'fall from grace' for the Americans. The US has only won 29 British Opens in 77 years, roughly half the number of Masters that have been claimed by American golfers. Those following the Betfair golf betting odds  won't be surprised by these stats.

Eleven of the States' British Open victories were won by just three players, namely, Tom Watson (5), Tiger Woods (3), and Jack Nicklaus (3).

Garcia 'loves the game again'

By Thomas Rooney on 14-Jul-2011

Sergio Garcia goes into this week's Open Championship reinvigorated after rediscovering his 'joy and love of the game' after taking a break from the sport last year.
The Spaniard endured a difficult few years both on and off the course but has shown signs of returning to his former glories that saw him become one of the world's top three players and become a regular at the top of the leaderboards at the majors, including losing out in a play-off to Padraig Harrington at the 2007 Open at Carnoustie.

However, his game now seems to be back on song and after a number of promising performance in America, is second place finish at the BMW International in Germany saw him secure his place at this week's tournament at Royal St George's. The latest British Open betting suggests he could struggle though.

Garcia is yet to break his major duck but and hasn't won a tournament forever two years. Despite this, he says that his self-enforced break from the game has done him wonders and has rekindled his desire to win tournaments.

"It definitely helped and I'm really happy I was able to do it," he told Sky Sports. "I rebooted myself into the game of golf because I was losing the best thing that I probably had - the joy and love of the game."

"This is my favourite event of the year," he said. "I love the courses, I love the tournament itself. I love the people - they are easily the best crowds we get all year long. I'm always looking forward to making it back here and you can imagine how happy I was when I got a spot after the BMW's."he Scottish Open.

140th Open will be a showcase of champions

By Thomas Rooney on 13-Jul-2011

There will be 15 former Open Championship winners playing for the Claret Jug at St. George's, later this week, beginning with Mark 'Calc' Calcavecchia, who tees off at 06.41 on Thursday. The golfer, who hails from Nebraska, famously commented on the size of the Open trophy by asking "how is my name going to fit on that thing?"

In order of tee off times, the next champion to begin his crusade for Open glory is Todd Hamilton, winner of the Claret Jug in 2004, followed by Mark O'Meara, victor in 1998. Stewart Cink begins at 08:20, hoping to add to his lone Open success in 2009, while Ben Curtis, known for causing an upset at Royal St George's in 2003, will tee off at 08:58. Those looking at the Betfair golf open betting won't be expecting these players to challenge.

Ernie Els won the Open Championship in 2002. The South African claims that St. George's is in “perfect condition” ahead of the start of the British Open. David Duval will tee-off at 09:42, as the winner of the 130th Open in 2001, closely followed by John Daly, at 09:53. Daly won at St. Andrews Links in 1995, in a playoff against Costantino Rocca.

Paul Lawrie, witness to Jean Van der Velde's safari across the Carnoustie Golf Links in 1999, claimed the gold at the same event. Justin Leonard, Open winner in 1997, and Sandy Lyle, who claimed the top spot in 1985, will also attend the start of the contest on Thursday. The Open betting odds make him a huge outsider though.

One of only two players on the course to have won more than one Claret Jug, Ireland's, Padraig Harrington, will tee off at 13:21, alongside Matt Kuchar and Bryden Macpherson. Harrington, winner in 2007 and 2008, is one of just four golfers since the 1970s to have defended their Open title, with Tiger Woods (2005-06), Tom Watson (1982-83), and Lee Trevino (1971-72). Watson, winner of no less than five Claret Jugs, will be one of the oldest golfers at St. George's on Thursday, at 61-years-old.

Louis Oosthuizen will begin his title defence at 14:21, while the remaining champion, Tom Lehman, winner in 1996, will tee-off late in the afternoon, at 15:38.

Scott Jamieson delighted by Open spot

By Thomas Rooney on 11-Jul-2011

Scotland's Scott Jamieson and American Kyle Stanley have earned the final two places at this year's Open Championship at Royal St George's.

Jamieson will make his Major debut at Sandwich after finishing in a tie for third at the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart. The 27-year-old was the highest ranked player not to have already qualified for the tournament but had to birdie the final two holes to dash the hopes of Chilean Mark Tullo. The British Open golf odds suggest he will be making up the numbers, but he will be delighted all the same.

The Chilean held the place in the Open up until the Scot's last putt and Jamieson credits his caddy for telling him of the situation heading into the final hole and says it will be a dream come true when he tees it up at the Open.

"My caddie said, just before I hit it, that he thought I had a better world ranking than the other guys on 14 under, so I just said, 'right, well let's make sure'. Still, I wasn't sure how important that putt was," he explained.

Stanley qualifies courtesy of his second place finish in the John Deere Classic which was his first top ten finish in his PGA Tour career.

The 23-year-old held the lead at one stage of the final at TPC Deere Run but could only stand and watch as veteran Steve Stricker birdied the last two holes to seal his third consecutive victory at the tournament.

Stanley had previously closed a five-shot deficit but bogeyed the final hole to scupper his chance of a place in a play-off. However, despite the disappointment, the prospect of playing at the Open was more than enough consolation, telling reporters he is "very excited to go over there".

Curtis heads into special Open

By Thomas Rooney on 11-Jul-2011

Ben Curtis, an Open Championship winner in 2003, is preparing to play in his ninth British Open. The American has a mixed record in the Major, achieving a top-ten finish in three Opens, but failing to make the halfway cut five times since his maiden victory in 2003.

The 34-year-old refers to the Royal St George's Golf Course as a "very special place".

Curtis had never played links-style golf before his debut at Sandwich, almost eight years ago, and famously arrived at the course without a caddie. The American was paired up with a caddie from Maidenhead, Andy Sutton. "I told him to just tell me where to hit it", Curtis said. The American went on to win the Open by one stroke, ahead of Thomas Bjorn and Vijay Singh in what was a huge upset in the Open betting.

Despite his modest roots, the former Open champion is now a well-respected player in golfing circles.

He won the Booz Allen and the 84 Lumber classics in 2006, tied for seventh in the Open Championship in mid-2008, and tied for second in the PGA Championship just a few months later. However, Curtis, who claims to "love" links golf, hasn't placed higher than fourteenth in a Major since his near miss at the PGA. The Betfair golf betting indicates he won't be challenging this time around.

Curtis is currently ranked 189th in the world, making him an outsider at the Open Championship. However, the American is probably used to receiving little attention from the bookies; Curtis was a 300/1 bet to win the Open in 2003.

Toms Pulls Out of British Open

By Thomas Rooney on 08-Jul-2011

David Toms has become the latest golfer to withdraw from the 140th Open Championship. Toms' injury is doubly painful for the American, as it struck when he was one-over-par after nine holes at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois. "[Wednesday was] not a great day", the 44-year-old said on Twitter.

On Monday, Toms was treated for an injured left hip, a condition that has troubled him for a while now. The American was given an injection to tide him over the week's golf, but the condition flared up on Wednesday. "It's quite a feat just to get from green to tee," Toms said. By Thursday, he was walking with a "noticeable limp", before finally pulling out of the contest yesterday afternoon.

The development puts an end to a fairly decent run for the player - Toms entered the week of July 4 in seventh position in the FedExCup, a part of the PGA Tour. That said, the 2011 the Open betting odds never suggested he would do well in the forthcoming Major.

Toms would have been looking to improve on a rather lacklustre British Open career, had he not been sidelined. The golfer's record in the Major includes four withdrawals, four missed cuts, and a disqualification in the last 15 years. He has made the halfway cut just three times in the Open, including a tie for fourth in 2000. In comparison, Toms has 13 PGA Tour wins under his belt, including the PGA Championship in 2001. The golf betting indicates he won't be adding to this tally.

Ranked at number 27 in the world, Toms was expecting to go on from the British Open to compete in the Presidents Cup and the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational. However, Toms' is likely to be absent from the fairway until his injury permits otherwise. The golfer is also in the race for the Player of the Year, due to his recent success in the US.

McDowell out to crash British Open party

By Thomas Rooney on 07-Jul-2011

Most eyes at the British Open are likely to be on Rory McIlroy, but his old friend Graeme McDowell is hoping to pip the US Open champion to glory at Sandwich.
The 31-year-old had a great 2010, winning his first major at the US Open while also being a member of the victorious European Ryder Cup team – with McDowell holing the winning putt. Those looking at the British Open odds will be wondering if he can grab a second major.
He has failed to match those heights so far this year but is looking to win his second major at the British Open next week, meaning it could be a battle of two Ulsterman at Royal St George's to lift the coveted trophy.
McIlroy had played nine holes at the British Open course to get the "links vibe back again" and he is looking forward to taking on the challenge when the tournament gets underway.
"I’m excited about how I'm playing and how fresh I feel," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"It's a very beautiful course and it's going to be good for driving stats, as there's a couple of fairways out there that if you miss you should be shot."
McDowell is playing at the Scottish Open to get some links practice and complete his preparations for the forthcoming British Open, while McIlroy has not been seen since his US Open triumph and will be playing at Sandwich following a three-week break. Those who bet on British Open 2011 will be keeping a close eye on him.
It remains to be seen if McIlroy's self-imposed break following his Congressional win will work in his favour, or against it, but what can be confirmed is there will be the biggest crowds following the young Ulsterman around Sandwich when play gets underway.

Harrington excited about Open

By Thomas Rooney on 06-Jul-2011

Two-time Open Champion Padraig Harrington says he is excited about the prospect of playing at Royal St George's especially with the absence of former World number one Tiger Woods.

The fourteen time Major Champion will miss his second Major in succession due to knee and hamstring injuries and has ruled himself out of taking part in Kent due to his desire to make a full recovery.

This week, Harrington is due to take part in the Scottish Open for the first time since 1999 as he looks to find some form ahead of the third Major of the season. The Irishman traditionally prefers to prepare for the tournament at home but with this week's Scottish Open being switched to Castle Stuart from Loch Lomond, he has opted to do his practicing on the course rather than the driving range. Those looking at the British Open golf betting will be keeping an eye on his preparations.

Harrington has never played at the Inverness layout but says he's excited to try a new course and hone his skills ahead of the big one next week at Sandwich buts not sure what shape his game is in.

"I'm here because it's on a links course, but who knows until you get out there yourself?" said Harrington.

"It's fantastic that we get that opportunity to enjoy this style of golf because it's really different to what we are used to and takes a lot of getting used to".

Since his last Major triumph at the 2008 USPGA Championship, Harrington has experienced a dip in form due to various swing changes and his pure desire to play well. However, the Open is a tournament the Irishman always relishes and he says he'll be doing everything he can to win his third Claret Jug.

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