Two-ball picks for Moving Day at Royal St George’s



12 strokes separate first and last going into the weekend. Winning from that far back would seem almost insurmountable in any scenario but especially given the cream has already risen to the top of the leaderboard. Those starting out from 9.30am are, fundamentally, playing for pride and a respectable finish.

Keep opposing Bryson on links

Bryson DeChambeau is a notable exception but his struggles were hardly unpredictable, given three previous failures in this major. One day he will master the art of links golf but, for now, I’m happy to put him in the same box as I did with Phil Mickelson during his first 10-15 Open attempts – an American whose wider reputation will always mean unduly short odds in match-ups.

Furthermore, I like today’s outsider opponent. Talor Gooch is making steady headway on the PGA Tour and will be delighted to have made the Open cut at his first attempt. His best two results this year came on championship courses – Sawgrass and Riviera.

MacIntyre is the Moving Day banker

This is only Brendan Steele’s second made cut in five at The Open, and there’s little to suggest he’ll ever make a fine links player. The American hasn’t bettered 70 during any third round this season either.

In complete contrast, I expect to be backing Robert MacIntyre in this major for years, even decades to come. He’s made for this test. Royal St George’s hasn’t played all that ‘linksy’ due to receptive greens but they should dry out somewhat today and there’s a stiff 15-18mph wind forecast this morning.

Take on Rory with thriving Bland

Rory McIlroy’s third round Open record may surprise – he’s only bettered 73 on four occasions in nine attempts. He’ll doubtless be going hell for leather in pursuit of birdies, from so far back, which will entail plenty of risk.

Richard Bland is exactly the sort of opponent to take him on with at attractive odds. Experienced, bang in form including consecutive top-15s on links courses, and sure to enjoy the opportunity. He’s absolutely thriving since landing a first Euro Tour title at the British Masters.

Harrington represents good value

Matthew Fitzpatrick is another who has underperformed in Opens and is doing so again, so far. Considering he’s up against a twice former champion, oozing links pedigree, the betting here is too one-sided.

Padraig Harrington may not be the force of old, but he was placed in this year’s PGA Championship and made the top-20 on a links last week.

Solid Harding a good match for Casey

Finally, I’m again looking to take on a short odds favourite, whose Open record is underwhelming compared to their wider performances. Paul Casey has only bettered 70 three times in this round in 12 Open appearances.

His opponent has often struck me as under-rated. Justin Harding is pretty consistent, and an excellent scrambler. Following two solid rounds, there’s no reason he can’t keep it going and challenge his best ever major finish (12th at the 2019 Masters).

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