What will happen this week? I think Bryson DeChambeau is going to have a hard time. I hear the rough is bad in places and I’m not sure he hits it straight enough to do well.
You can’t hit it at the sky at Sandwich.
Even if you hit it 350 yards, you still can’t control a wedge from that rough because it wraps itself around the club shaft and the club face. I’d be looking for someone with a lower ball flight who can shape shots.
Bryson DeChambeau tees off the 9th during the practice day at The Royal St George’s course
WHY I’M NOT PLAYING
After winning the Senior Open last year I was exempt for this week and it was a very difficult decision to miss the Open. The problem is that it would have meant four majors in five weeks — and the US Senior Open last week was on the hilliest course I have ever played in my life.
It was also in Omaha, with no flights out on Sunday night, which meant I wouldn’t have got to Kent until Tuesday afternoon. Terrible preparation and a lot of golf, so I thought it was best not to overdo it. But I would have loved to be there.
Veteran Bernhard Langer has decided not to compete in this year’s Open Championship
I had three top-three finishes at Royal St George’s but I always thought it the course on the rota where you could get the most unfair bounces. There were numerous times where I hit a wonderful tee shot and then you get down to the ball and find it is in the thick rough.
You’re thinking, ‘Oh, how did it get there?’ and then you find it hit a slope in the middle of the fairway. At St Andrews you hardly ever get that, if at all. There are also a lot of uneven lies. You can say it is links golf and, yes, it is — but most people would say if you hit a good shot it should be rewarded.
DeChambeau of The United States plays a shot from the rough at the first hold in practice
Langer came close to Open success in 1981
ONE THAT GOT AWAY
As you might imagine, I have some lasting memories of the times I almost won the Claret Jug at Sandwich. In 1981, I played really well but I was 23 and I don’t think I was ready to win and finished second to Bill Rogers.
Four years later, when Sandy Lyle won, is the one when I think I really had a good chance. I was joint leader with David Graham going into the final round but missed a 4ft par putt on the first green and that really shook me up. It made me nervous and worried about my putting all day and I ended up shooting 75 when a 73 would have won me the tournament.
In 1993 I had another chance, playing with Greg Norman in the final round. I played well but he delivered flawless golf that day and would have been hard for anyone to catch.
RORY DIDN’T NEED SWING CHANGE
It Is seven years now since Rory McIlroy won a major and there is no question the pressure builds. I went eight years between my Masters wins and it does get to you. The good thing for Rory is that he won his majors at a young age and he’s still young. I have no worries for Rory.
What I don’t understand is him changing his swing a few months ago in an effort to hit it further. He was already one of the longest, what’s another 10 yards going to do? Thankfully, he looks like he is on his way back. For him, going forward, it should be all about focusing on the right stuff, like his short game.
Rory McIlroy has not won a major since 2014, when he won the Open at Royal Liverpool
WESTWOOD IN MIX
I loved Phil Mickelson’s age-defying win at the US PGA. Can something similar happen at the Open? Absolutely it can. I have been saying it for years.
It is not about hitting it out of oblivion, it is about punch shots and manoeuvring the ball and an imaginative short game. Lee Westwood has a real chance if he has a good putting week, he is such a good ball striker — Padraig Harrington as well.
Langer has backed Lee Westwood to impress at Sandwich if he can master his putting game
TEN HOME HOPES!
I know it has been a long time since an Englishman won the Open and I’m not surprised in one sense. When you play in your home Open, expectation and emotion is always running high and it does make it harder.
Now imagine if it’s the biggest Open of all! Having said that, there have been so many good Englishmen since Sir Nick Faldo won the last of his three Open titles, it is strange that none have won. How many candidates must there be this time? You could probably name 10 who could win. Maybe this is the year they will finally get that bit of luck.
No Englishman has won the Open Championship since Nick Faldo back in 1992
RAHM’S MY TIP
The favourite? Who is the man who can do what Tom Watson used to do, who can move the ball left and right in the wind and be fearless on the greens?
I like players like Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas. But if I had to pick one it would be Jon Rahm.
Langer has tipped Jon Rahm to achieve success at this year’s Open Championship
RYDER CUP POINTERS
There is a lot at stake at the Open this week with regard to the Ryder Cup. I’m a firm believer in backing current form when it comes to the match against the Americans and it is a definite benefit having the Open champion in your team.
Any time you win any tournament it gives you confidence. Imagine the huge boost you get from winning the Claret Jug, six weeks before the Ryder Cup!
The Ryder Cup in September will take place at the Whistling Straits course in Wisconsin
It Is going to be hard for Europe in Wisconsin in September. It is always harder at an away game than a home one and the American team looks very strong. Having said that, I like our captain Padraig Harrington and I know he is going to do a great job.
For the sake of the game, I’m hoping it will be a close match because that does wonders for the sport and I hope Europe can pull it off. I will certainly be cheering for them.
Padraig Harrington will be Europe’s captain for the Ryder Cup in the USA this September
HERE’S TO THE 150!
Finally, I’m looking forward to defending my Senior Open title at Sunningdale next week. It will bring back a lot of good memories for me. I won the European Open there way back in the day and I was in contention for a Senior Open there a few years ago. It is a beautiful area and one thing I can say for certain — if I’m lucky enough to win the Senior Open again, I will definitely be at St Andrews next year for the 150th Open!
Following the cancellation of the tournament in 2020 due to Covid, Bernhard Langer is still the current champion of the Senior Open following his 2019 success
Bernhard Langer, who is an ambassador for Mercedes-Benz, an official patron for the Open, was talking to Derek Lawrenson