Golf’s third major of 2015 kicks off early Thursday morning; and unless you’re a degenerate like me, you’ll be sleeping, so set your DVRs.  The Open Championship returns to the birthplace of golf: The Old Course at St. Andrews.  Here are a few quick facts about the course:

  • It will play roughly 7,300 yards.
  • The fairways are relatively wide.
  • Beware: pot bunkers!
  • There are only two par 3s and two par 5s, leaving 14 par 4s.  I counted as many as eight holes will require a 175+ yard approach shot.
  • The greens are gigantic; some are actually used by two separate holes.
  • The weather will play a factor, so make sure to stay on top of that.

The Open’s official site has an interactive walk-through of the course.  If you take the time to scroll through you’ll see that the longer hitters should have a distinct advantage.  They’ll be able to take a lot of trouble out of play off the tee and significantly cut down on their approach yardage (which will be huge if the winds are gusting).

In terms of course history, I think you should focus on three tournaments:

2010 Open Championship played at St. Andrews
2014 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship played at St. Andrews
2015 U.S. Open played at Chambers Bay

The first two are obvious; the most recent Open Championship and most recent tournament played at St. Andrews.  This year’s U.S. Open gives us an idea of recent form; and as an added bonus, it was played on a course that should correlate well with St. Andrews (Phil Mickelson drew a number of comparisons between the two).  Look for guys who played well in these tournaments.

There were only two stats that garnered near-uniform consideration by the experts: driving distance and strokes gained: tee-to-green.  Here are the leaders in those two areas:

Driving Distance

  1. Dustin Johnson 319.0
  2. Adam Scott 309.2
  3. Jason Day 309.0
  4. J.B. Holmes 308.4
  5. Bubba Watson 308.2

Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green

  1. Hideki Matsuyama 1.751
  2. Jordan Spieth 1.653
  3. Sergio Garcia 1.593
  4. Bubba Watson 1.588
  5. Adam Scott 1.535

The Euro Tour doesn’t provide strokes gained: tee-to-green statistics.  But if you’re looking for a little Euro action for your lineups, Tommy Fleetwood, Bernd Wiesberger, and Stephen Gallacher all rank in the top-50 on tour in both driving distance and GIR.

Some other stats the experts are looking at are: ball striking, GIR/proximity, par 4 scoring average, sand save %, scrambling, strokes gained: putting, and total driving.

These are the golfers the experts are targeting at St. Andrews:

  • Adam Scott
  • Bernd Wiesberger
  • Brandt Snedeker
  • Brooks Koepka
  • Charl Schwartzel
  • David Howell
  • Dustin Johnson
  • Henrik Stenson
  • Hideki Matsuyama
  • Joost Luiten
  • Jordan Spieth
  • Justin Rose
  • Louis Oosthuizen
  • Martin Kaymer
  • Matt Kuchar
  • Paul Casey
  • Rickie Fowler
  • Robert Streb
  • Sergio Garcia
  • Shane Lowry
  • Tiger Woods (TIGER!)
  • Tommy Fleetwood

One.  Million.  Dollars.  Go out there and win it!  Best of luck to all of you this week, and R.I.P. to my normal sleep schedule.

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