“Controversial” is a fore letter word

We preview the 2021 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s


After two long years, it’s time again for the Open Championship. Someone check on Shane Lowry; he might still be in the bar celebrating his 2019 victory.

(All photos in this newsletter by Jason Livy, courtesy of Royal St. George’s Golf Club. They’re great, right?)

The venue

Royal St. George’s will host the Open Championship for the first time since Darren Clarke took home the Claret Jug in 2011. It’s not every player’s favorite rota course, but that will probably just enhance the entertainment this week. At around 7,200 yards, RSG won’t overwhelm the pros with length, but its jagged landforms will add an element of chance to every shot.

Below you’ll find a few holes we’re excited to watch in action. We also recommend Golf Digest’s Every Hole at Royal St. George’s drone tour.

No. 4 – par 4 – 496 yards – You’re going to see a lot of the 4th hole this week. The infamous Himalaya bunker, which measures about 40 feet tall and sits to the right of the fairway, will surely attract the broadcast camera’s gaze. Most players will carry it with ease, but it could come into play if the wind is hurting. The green is severely sloped and has a boundary line over the back, so the second shot is pretty scary.

Photo credit: Jason Livy

No. 5 – par 4 – 416 yards – Just after the demanding 4th hole is the scorable 5th. Depending on the wind, players will use a number of different clubs off the tee to position themselves for the approach through the dunes and out toward the sea.

No. 10 – par 4 – 412 yards – The tee shot on the opening hole of the back nine isn’t much to look at, but the approach is a doozy. The green is perched up and kicks poorly struck approaches in all directions.

No. 12 – par 4 – 379 yards – The shortest two-shot hole at Royal St. George’s features one of the coolest fairways you’ll ever see. The rolling terrain means that shots are not over once they hit the ground. Players will likely have a wedge into a small green that gives birdie looks only to precise shots.

No. 14 – par 5 – 545 yards – This par 5 isn’t about length but about the danger to the right. The “Suez Canal” runs alongside the hole before cutting across the fairway. Players who bail left with their second shots are greeted with a series of bunkers and a tough angle into the green. Eagles are in play but so are big numbers.

Photo credit: Jason Livy

No. 16 – par 3 – 161 yards – The final two holes at Royal St. George’s are fairly demanding, so players know their best chance for a late-round birdie will come at this shortish par 3. Misses, however, tend to find the deep pot bunkers.

Tee times

Pairings were assigned on Tuesday, and as at all major championships, there are a few juicy ones. Sandwich is five hours ahead of the East Coast in the U.S., so make sure to set your alarm clocks! Open Championship Tee Times

Here are some first-round tee times we’ll be tracking (all times local):

7:30 a.m. – Min Woo Lee/Sam Horsfield/Christiaan Bezuidenhout – Sure, this isn’t the powerhouse group you expected to see right off the bat, but these guys are bona fide studs and ranked in the top 100 of the Official World Golf Ranking. None of them have much experience in the Open, however.

7:52 a.m. – Paul Casey/Abraham Ancer/Ian Poulter – All three of these players have the right skill set for Royal St. George’s. Casey and Poulter in particular have heaps of experience on links courses, and both are in good form right now.

9:25 a.m. – Jordan Spieth/Bryson DeChambeau/Branden Grace – Our first headliner group. Early in the week, Spieth and DeChambeau have received a lot of media attention. Whereas Spieth has a fantastic track record at the Open—a win, three top 10s, and zero missed cuts—Bryson has never had any success at the event. Maybe if he stops being so defensive about his lack of fore calls he’ll have better luck.

9:58 a.m. – Shane Lowry/Jon Rahm/Louis Oosthuizen – The reigning Open champion, the reigning U.S. Open champion, and the man with three top-three finishes in the past five majors.

10:20 a.m. – Dustin Johnson/Will Zalatoris/Justin Rose – These are all big names, but no one has any idea how to handicap them. DJ nearly won the last time the Open was at Royal St. George’s but has been struggling lately, Zalatoris is making his tournament debut, and Rose has two top 10s in majors this year but not much else. Could they go 1-2-3? Sure! Could they all miss the cut? Absolutely.

1:26 p.m. – Collin Morikawa/Corey Conners/Sebastián Muñoz – Because last year’s event was canceled, Morikawa, like Zalatoris, is making his Open Championship debut at Royal St. George’s. No. 4 in the OWGR, he’s the highest ranked player ever to be a first-timer at the Open (OWGR started in 1986).

3:10 p.m. – Justin Thomas/Tommy Fleetwood/Adam Scott – When there’s wind and unpredictable bounces, you need to flush it. This group almost always does just that. Plus, it’s time for Justin Thomas to get back in the mix in a major. He hasn’t done much in golf’s four biggest events since his 2017 PGA victory.

3:21 p.m. – Rory McIlroy/Patrick Reed/Cameron Smith – Justine Reed (allegedly) may be very unhappy with this late tee time, but what a group! Rory is, well, Rory, and both Reed and Smith perform well in tough conditions. Add in the memory of Cameron Smith calling out Reed for cheating, and this trio is all the reason you need to make a second pot of coffee.

The Latest from The Fried Egg

TFE Events – Registrations for the Big Muddy at Davenport Country Club on Monday, July 26, close this coming Sunday! You can still reserve your spot HERE. Also, we plan to open registrations for the Fresno Scraper at Prairie Dunes and the Royal Rumble at Lancaster Country Club next Tuesday, July 20, at 12 p.m. ET.

Paulie’s Picks: The Open Championship – It’s time for the final men’s major championship of the year! Make sure you end the major season on a high note with Paulie’s advice on DraftKings and one-and-done picks.

Tom Doak on Royal St. George’s – Tom Doak has seen more golf courses than almost anyone, so his thoughts on this week’s Open venue carry some weight. Photography from Jason Livy.

The Strange Beginnings of Royal St. George’s – Royal St. George’s has changed quite a bit since Laidlaw Purves laid it out in the 1880s. Garrett Morrison compiled a few materials on the evolution of the course and the factors that influenced the alterations.

The Fried Egg Podcast: Two fresh pods!

Five Things About the Open Championship with Jaime Diaz: Golf journalism luminary and Golf Channel commentator Jaime Diaz sits down with Andy Johnson to preview the Open at Royal St. George’s.

The Battle over Royal St. George’s: Historian Bob Crosby joins Garrett Morrison to discuss the contentious early history of the 2021 Open Championship host.

Listen to both on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Shotgun Start: Open Preview, where shouting fore is now a controversial topic

This Wednesday episode revels in the return of golf’s oldest major championship and a style of golf that we see far less than we should. Brendan begins with a point of the recent Open hitting a sweet spot of authenticity for the discerning golf audience on the internet and elsewhere that has boosted the major over the past decade or so. Then they get to Royal St. George’s, with Andy providing some intel on the course’s history and layout and greens and the “quirk” that may drive some players nuts this week. They’re almost bursting with excitement over the venue and what it might present for the world’s best, citing Brooks quotes about “shots to nothing.” The usual major championship Wednesday practice of highlighting their favorite tee times is done, with some curious placement of Brooksy, Jimmy, and others. Then they move to the quotable portion of the preview, scanning the transcripts. Bryson’s insistence on both his “greatness and humbleness” as well as his extremely defensive answer about never shouting “fore” are discussed, among other answers. The final segment includes picks to win as well as a review of some of the top players who might need it most or could change their trajectory most with a win. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Quick Hooks

The Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, a two-woman team event on the LPGA Tour, runs from Wednesday to Saturday. Among the teams to look out for are Nasa Hataoka-Lexi Thompson, Danielle Kang-Lydia Ko, Jessica-Nelly Korda, Sophia Popov-Anne van Dam, Inbee Park-So Yeon Ryu, Minjee Lee-Yuka Saso, and Brittany Altomare-Angel Yin. Tee Times

The Korn Ferry Tour is in Springfield, Illinois, for the Memorial Health Championship, and PGA Tour University graduate Kevin Yu is looking for his fifth straight top 25. Tee Times

Oh good, another alternate-field event. The Barbasol Championship kicks off in Kentucky on Thursday. Tee Times

Rose Zhang, Alexa Pano, Amari Avery, and Fried Egg Stories alumna Kiara Romero are among those moving on to match play at the U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur. Scoring

Pro Shop

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