The British Open is among the premier events on the PGA circuit. With a history dating back well over 100 years and a tradition of greatness with the biggest names in the sport, few events capture the magic of The Open Championship. After getting canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the tournament is back. With it, pros like 2019 champion Shane Lowry will have a shot at one of the biggest victories in golf.
Keeping the British Open magic alive
The British Open is the closest many get to interact with the golfers as they strive for greatness. Looking back at many of the tournament’s most iconic moments, fans and casual observers alike have seen visions of the soon-to-be champion being trailed by adoring fans during the last two holes. With COVID-19 in mind, however, R&A Chief Martin Slumbers told the press how they would make the age-old tradition work and keep the event as true as possible, according to Jacksonville.com:
“The big uncertainty for us is the clarity with the government and health authorities around social distancing, and that will determine what the atmosphere will be like at the Open. I’m keen to get as many spectators in as possible because I do think that’s what creates the atmosphere, and I think actually it’s what makes the players play just a little bit better.”
At 75% capacity, it might not be exactly the same. But with sports slowly returning to their normalcy, players can take solace in knowing that while many things have changed since the 2019 tournament, some traditions remain.
The biggest names in golf will seek to get the bulk of this year’s $11.5 million purse, details Golfweek. This involves an increase of $750,000 from the total purse of the 2019 British Open. The 2021 winner will earn $2.07 million, up from Shane Lowry’s $1.935 million for his win in 2019.
What to expect at the 2021 British Open
Despite the year off, the tournament will likely reach full swing once the players take the green. CBS Sports reports on the odds entering the 149th Open. With defending champion Shane Lowry struggling in recent months, he’s a long shot to win it all at 40-1 odds. This puts him ahead of big names like Phil Mickelson, but far behind the actual favorites.
At the top, PGA points leader Jon Rahm sits not-so-comfortably at 9-1 odds, while perennial favorites Rory McIlroy and Rahm’s runner-up, Dustin Johnson, sit at 11-1 and 12-1, respectively. Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka round out the top-five at 14-1 odds, with Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas coming close behind. With golf slowly returning to normalcy, a somewhat typical British Open is exactly what the fans and golfers need.
With a tight points race between Rahm and Johnson and a not-so-tight race between the people behind them, the Open could put Thomas and the rest of the hopefuls back in the mix.
Where to watch the 2021 British Open
With the odds favoring the top two players in the standings, DeChambeau, Thomas, and the rest of the golf world can only hope they are the ones standing tall when the event kicks off at Royal St. George’s in England. American golf fans can watch the early rounds on the Golf Channel on Thursday, July 15 and Friday, July 16 at 4:00 pm Eastern. The later rounds will air on CBS on the afternoons of Saturday, July 17 and Sunday, July 18.
Whatever happens, it’s good to see the greatest golfers in the world finally able to play one of the sport’s premier events. It will be a return to a tradition that both winners and losers can appreciate, given all of the circumstances. Now, we wait and see what happens after the first ball is teed off.