Stan Hey: 6-5 Against

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The Independent Online

Tiger Woods is the winner of three Opens this century and is the immovable object that professional golfers must get around. But he will not be at Birkdale next week. I suspect there will be a giddy feeling among players as they arrive on the Southport coast, with their caddies whispering "you can win this". But even in the absence of Woods, they have to beat the course.

Phil Mickelson is the expected favourite, despite a poor record in Opens – third at Troon in 2004 is his best finish. But Spanish fever is raging, with Sergio Garcia backed to emulate his national football team and Rafael Nadal. There is more than coincidence behind the money.

Garcia has had a decent season, winning the Players Championship in America and finishing second in the French Open. He had a putt to win the Open at Carnoustie last year but missed and lost the play-off. His runner-up slot made for his sixth top 10 finish in seven Opens. If he was a horse with that kind of form, you would lump on. So I will – £20 win at 10-1 (Coral, Ladbrokes).

My three £5 each-way bets are Andres Romero – eighth and third in his two Opens (33-1 generally); Justin Leonard, who won me a "monkey" at Troon in 1997 (66-1 Totesport); and a "what if?" bet on Justin Rose (25-1 generally), whose famous pitch into the 18th hole at Birkdale was all of 10 years ago. Yikes!

Last week's wagers

We found the two big Sunday winners, Rafael Nadal (£22.50 won) and Lewis Hamilton (£25). But we lost £25 on Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Maria Sharapova. Multidimensional (£10 lost) found Sandown baked in the sun, not soaked as predicted. Should I be a weatherman?