SOUTHPORT, England — Don’t get him wrong.
Jordan Spieth is not saying the British Open is a breeze.
But Spieth, who won the Masters and U.S. Open in 2015, said this week that the British might be the easiest major to win.
His rationale? It’s often the case that the weather is so unpredictable, so susceptible to change between the morning and afternoon, that there’s a luck-of-the-draw element, depending on tee time.
“I’ve kind of seen a bit of everything in four years’ time,” said Spieth, who has finished tied for 30th, fourth, 36th and 44th in the British Open. “To say that it may be the easiest of the majors to win, if you had to pick a major, just because the draw can take out half a field. But the type of golf you have to play is totally different than what we see in the other three majors. You have to have a lot of imagination and a lot of ball-flight control.
“So I’m not saying it’s easy based on competition or anything like that, I’m strictly saying that because a lot of the time some of the field is thrown out and you’re actually playing against a smaller field, your percentage chances go up.”
The oddsmakers at Ladbrokes certainly believe in Spieth. They had him as the favorite to win at 14 to 1, ahead of Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia, at 16-1, and Jon Rahm at 18-1.
Many Open winners drink out of the winner’s trophy.
Last year’s winner took the trophy in the drink.
Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who won at Royal Troon in 2016, brought the Claret Jug with him on a Jet Ski spin around Lake Nona, near his Orlando, Fla., home. He had the trophy snugly secured to his life vest, and snapped some selfies along the voyage.
“It’s an iconic trophy, so to bring that around the world, it’s been many memorable moments due to that,” he said. “I think the Jet Ski is probably the goofiest and most fun we’ve had with it.”
And he has a bolder idea in the works.
“I’ve made an official promise that if I ever win the Claret Jug again, I’m going skydiving with it,” he said. “And I don’t know which is going to be harder, winning the Claret Jug again or going skydiving afterward because that thought scares me a little bit. It won’t stop me from trying to win it, though.”
Rory McIroy has won three of the four major championships — everything but the Masters — including the British at Royal Liverpool three years ago. He was once the hottest golfer in the game. He has been on a cold streak lately, missing back-to-back cuts at the Irish Open and Scottish Open. Since taking five weeks off after the Masters, he has missed the cut in three tournaments and finished 17th in a fourth. What’s more, he’s dealing with a rib injury.
Oddsmakers have him at 20-1 to win this week, meaning he’s in the unfamiliar position of being a relative longshot. And he understands why.
“If I was a betting company and I saw my form over the past few weeks, you would say, ‘Yeah, that’s probably a fair enough price,’ ” he said. “But, again, all it takes is one week for those odds to go back to, I don’t know, 7-1, 8-1 at Quail Hollow (the club in Charlotte, N.C., hosting the PGA Championship next month).
“So, as I say, good week to back me.”
Rising rap fan
Maybe the biggest rising star on the PGA Tour is Rahm. The Spaniard began the year by winning at Torrey Pines with a 60-foot eagle putt, finishing third and second in the first two World Golf Championships, and two weeks ago winning the Irish Open.
Among his inspirations? He’s a huge Eminem fan. Understandably, though, he was reluctant to recite some lyrics when asked to do so in a news conference this week.
“There’s a lot of lyrics in my mind …,” he said. “Especially with the language that is spoken in those songs, I don’t really want to say anything bad on TV or anything. But song-wise, there’s two of them that I like to listen before every round and that would be ‘Not Afraid’ and ‘Til I Collapse.’ “
“Most of them are (about) not giving up and fighting your way through,” Rahm said “And in my case it gets me to the mental state that I need to be to play golf.”