Nick Bonfield looks ahead to the climax of the 2015 Open Championship and gives his view on who will lift the Claret Jug at the end of the day...
Below, Nick Bonfield looks ahead to the climax of the 2015 Open Championship and gives his view on who will lift the Claret Jug at the end of the day...
After all the fanfare surrounding moving balls, inclement weather, delays and the actions of The R&A, the 2015 Open Championship is building towards a scintillating climax.
As it stands, there are 18 players within four shots of the lead, including eight Major champions, so predicting the winner is a somewhat difficult task, especially given the inherently unpredictable nature of professional golf.
Nonetheless, here's my take on how the Open will play out today...
Currently, the early starters are making a plethora of birdies. Scott Arnold has just shot a final-round 66, Jamie Donaldson and Branden Grace are five and six-under-par respectively with a number of holes left to play and Francesco Molinari is seven under through 14.
The weather forecast is decent this morning, but the situation is likely to change around about lunchtime.
On-and-off rain showers are expected from midday, with wind increasing to between 10-20mph this afternoon. There could also be gusts up to 30mph.
As such, I think players starting a couple of hours before the final group could be in with a decent shot, and two names in particular stick out.
Hideki Matsuyama - currently seven-under-par - goes out one hour and 55 minutes before the final pairing of Paul Dunne and Louis Oosthuizen.
He's a player who can get on a roll when he finds his form and an impressive youngster who always seems to feature in the bigger events.
Some 40 minutes later, Charl Schwartzel goes out. He's currently 80/1 with Paddy Power, which seems unfeasibly high given he's a past Major champion, a player who's made more birdies than anyone else this week and someone who's only four shots off the lead.
Related: history of St Andrews
In spite of the above, I still feel Schwartzel's compatriot Louis Oosthuizen will reign supreme, although I can see Sergio Garcia and Padraig Harrington going very close.
Garcia, a firm fan-favourite, loves the Open Championship more than any other event, and his record in the tournament is excellent.
Harrington, meanwhile, is as dogged as they come, a brilliant links player and the man with the most Major-winning experience in the top 30.
Naturally, much of the pre-round focus has centered on Jordan Spieth and Paul Dunne.
Spieth, though, struggled with illness yesterday and he doesn't have much experience playing in inclement weather. I just think the weight of expectation, coupled with those factors, will preclude him from lifting the Claret Jug.
In regards Dunne, I just can't see him getting over the line with such a top-quality leaderboard, especially playing in the final group in the biggest event in golf.
So, it's Louis for me. He's a class act and, crucially, he's looked very good on the greens this week - something his success hinges on given the strength of his tee-to-green game. Add his temprament, his experience and the fact he's already won The Open at St Andrews into the mix and you have the 2015 champion.
Nick Bonfield joined Golf Monthly in 2012 after graduating from Exeter University and earning an NCTJ-accredited journalism diploma from News Associates in Wimbledon. He is responsible for managing production of the magazine, sub-editing, commissioning and feature writing. Most of his online work is opinion-based and typically centres around the Majors and significant events in the global golfing calendar. Nick has been an avid golf fan since the age of ten and became obsessed with the professional game after watching Mike Weir and Shaun Micheel with The Masters and USPGA respectively in 2003. In his time with Golf Monthly, he's interviewed the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Jose Maria Olazabal, Henrik Stenson, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and Billy Horschel and has ghost-written columns for Westwood, Wayne Riley, Matthew Southgate, Chris Wood and Eddie Pepperell. Nick is a 12-handicap golfer and his favourite courses include Old Head, Sunningdale New, Penha Longha, Valderrama and Bearwood Lakes. If you have a feature pitch for Nick, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with 'Pitch' in the subject line. Nick is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade M1 Fairway wood: TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 Hybrid: Ping Crossover Irons (4-9): Nike Vapor Speed Wedges: Cleveland CBX Full Face, 56˚, Titleist Vokey SM4, 60˚ Putter: testing in progress! Ball: TaylorMade TP5x