2022 150th Open Championship: Battle of the Greats

The Open Championship, often called The Open, is one of the PGA’s most prestigious and most-followed events. Alongside the Masters, US Open, and PGA Championship, the tournament sees the sport’s top competitors head to St. Andrews, Scotland, founded in 1860, to compete on the world’s first ever golf course. 

Unsurprisingly, the event, to be held in mid-July this year, is a who’s-who of the PGA. Top names qualify under a variety of circumstances, while analysts and fans closely follow the field to see which athletes will compete. At the moment, sportsbooks offering golf odds are focused on Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy as favorites, followed by Collin Morikawa and Jordan Spieth. 

However, these odds might shift as new outcomes unfold along the PGA Tour and as new competitors confirm their participation in The Open. After a wild year for golf, including ongoing drama with the Saudi Super League and the recovery of stars like Tiger Woods, there’s more attention than ever before on The Open—which is incidentally celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2022.

All Eyes on Mickelson & Woods

So far, Woods and golf legend Phil Mickelson, aka Lefty, have both qualified to compete in The Open. Though not favorited like Rahm and McIlroy, the pair will be two of the most-watched golfers when the tournament kicks off on July 14.

Woods remains on the up and up after a devastating accident in 2021. Only fourteen months later, he competed in the Masters—though it was largely a symbolic appearance. Since then, he’s shown incremental improvements. Many will be watching Woods at St. Andrews to see if he can pull off a win.

Mickelson, who became the world’s oldest Majors champion after nabbing the 2021 PGA Championship at age 50, is currently on a sabbatical from golf. In fact, he recently dropped out of the 2022 PGA Championship, which has raised some eyebrows about the likelihood that he’ll compete in The Open.

Unlike Woods, Mickelson hasn’t faced injury. Instead, he was embroiled in controversy this February after commenting on the possible formation of the Saudi Super League. Though he’s since apologized for his insensitive comments, he’s faced backlash from fellow golfers and fans worldwide. Will The Open be his return to the public eye?

1.3 Million Requesting Tickets

Not all eyes are on the golfers competing in The Open—or even on St. Andrews. This year’s Open has seen a flood of ticket requests. In fact, the Sports Industry Research Centre reports that 1.3 million tickets have been requested and that as much as $340 million could be poured into the Scottish economy from visiting fans alone. 

It’s expected that as many as 290,000 fans could filter through the course over the weekend; 80,000 spectators will be permitted for practice and another 60,000 per day for the competition. The current record for attendance at a PGA event is the Phoenix Open, which welcomed over 618,000 fans over a weekend and over 201,000 in a single day. 

While St. Andrews prepares to welcome historic crowds, golfers are preparing for the return of massive audiences. Will it help get some back in the groove after limited spectatorship in the last few years, or will some be missing their peace and quiet?

Greg Norman Disqualified from The Open

While most fans are diligently following their favorite stars like McIlroy and Morikawa, some were hoping to see a special appearance from legend Greg Norman. At age 67, the multi-Major winner isn’t eligible because he’s over 60 years of age and hasn’t won The Open championship in the last ten years.

The Australian golfer announced earlier this year he would be applying to play. Though he hasn’t hit the links often since his heyday in the 1980s and 90s, at which point he spent 331 weeks ranked World No. 1, some hoped to see Norman compete.

However, many fans of the PGA weren’t surprised. In addition to being ineligible to compete, Norman is also a vocal proponent of the Saudi Super League, now branded as the LIV Golf Series—the same league Mickelson is being shunned for commenting on favorably. 

As the battle between the PGA and LIV continues, events like The Open will remain essential for highlighting the organization’s longstanding history and presence in golf.

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