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The Open Championship at St Andrews - Preview

The withdrawal of Rory McIlroy from the Open this week has left the door open for the American youngster Jordan Spieth to further confirm his grip on the sport.

Prior to McIlroy's injury, the pair of them were expected to fight it out for the honour of becoming the 144th Open Champion. It would have been a treat to watch, and we're sure we'll see it next year. Spieth will now feel a fraction closer to his ambition of becoming the first ever golfer to complete the Grand Slam and hold all four Open titles in one calendar year. He already holds the US Open and the Masters this year, but he's not without challengers for the trophy on offer this week.

Spieth's fellow Americans Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler are among his closest competitors, and the Australian Adam Scott and the Swede Henrik Stenson will also have something to say about things.

England's highest ranked entrant is Justin Rose, currently rated the world's eighth best golfer and, of course, a former US Open champion. But what are his chances of preventing Spieth taking the Claret Jug on Sunday?

He's certainly in with a chance, though he's going to need to be on his best form if he wants to win it. The best place we've found to back him is at Ladbrokes, who are offering a realistic 25/1.

Frankly, though, our money would be going on Spieth. He's young, talented, and eager, and he knows that if he takes the victory he will supplant McIlroy as the top ranked golfer in the world

Golf is a strange sport and it doesn't take much to affect your head and thus affect your game - just ask former world number one Tiger Woods. Because of this Spieth is the favourite for the Open and yet still at odds we would consider tempting. The best place to back him is at Coral, who have him at a very decent 8/1.

Finally, what of his closer competitors? Well, on form and skill, the one we would consider backing is Dustin Johnson. He's a fair second favourite, and the best place to pick him up is at ToteSport, who are offering tempting odds of 12/1.

Can McIlroy turn his form around?

Rory McIlroy isn’t enjoying the best of seasons in the world of golf right now, but even though he is in shocking form, he is never a man to write off in the big tournaments.

The second Major of the year – the US Open – gets underway in a few weeks time and the Northern Irishman might be a decent bet for the encounter, despite the fact he looks a shadow of the player he was in 2011 and 2012.

In 2011, McIlroy won the US Open with a record score of -16, so he has the knowhow in this tournament, even if this year’s encounter is played at a different venue.

He is a man that often raises his game for the big occasion and if he does manage to play some decent golf, there is no doubt he will be involved.

The man that 24-year-old might need to stop is Tiger Woods and the American looks as hungry as ever to succeed. We haven’t really seen the battles we might have expected between these two this year and the US Open could be the perfect place for them to go head-to-head on the final day.

If you fancy placing a US Open bet, you will see that McIlroy is being offered at 16/1 with BetVictor to win this one and when you consider the quality he does have, that could prove to be cracking value.

On form, could you make a case for him lifting the trophy? Well, probably not, no. However, sheer class doesn’t just disappear and if McIlroy can improve his game in the next couple of weeks, he could come into this encounter full of confidence.

The first round is key of course and if he does get a flying start, he isn’t likely to let his lead go like he did in 2010.

We are all set for a thrilling US Open this year.

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