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No. 8 (par 4) looking back to the tee from the green. Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images

The Open, the only men's golf major to shut down last year amid the pandemic, returned today at Royal St. George's in Sandwich, England.

  • Favorites: Jon Rahm (+800) had the best opening odds, per Caesars, followed by Rory McIlroy (+1400), Brooks Koepka (+1500), Jordan Spieth (+1600) and Xander Schauffele (+1800).
  • Wild stat: Lee Westwood (+3500) is playing in his 88th major, the most ever without a win.
No. 18 (par 4). Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images

Storylines:

  • Two straight for Rahm? The red-hot Spaniard hopes to become the first player since Spieth in 2015 to win consecutive majors. Strange but true: Rahm was born with clubfoot (turned 90 degrees inward), which led to the development of his unique, short backswing.
  • All eyes on Bryson: DeChambeau's feud with Koepka is still very much alive, his game isn't well-suited to links golf and he's debuting a new caddie.
  • Packed gallery, strict protocols: 32,000 fans (80% capacity) will be permitted daily, the most since golf returned last June. Golfers must remain in four-person bubbles (caddie plus two staff) and go nowhere but their hotel and the course.
  • Pray for a "good draw": Lengthy daylight hours means everyone tees off from the first hole, creating a wide range of tee times. Depending on the traditionally-fickle weather throughout the day, The Open really could be about "the luck of the draw."
No. 5 (par 4), No. 6 (par 3) and No. 7 (par 5) along the coastline. Photo: David Cannon

The course: Royal St. George's, playing 7,189 yards with a par of 70, hosts The Open for the first time since 2011, and 15th overall — fourth most behind St. Andrews (29), Prestwick (24) and Muirfield (16).

  • Beware the bumps: St. George's fairways are peppered with mounds that ricochet balls into undesirable lies and leave players with blind iron shots.
  • Be resourceful: Those mounds, plus several deep pot bunkers and thick fescue, put an emphasis on resourcefulness. Look for players to use irons more frequently (tee shots) and creatively (bump-and-runs).
  • Get to know ... Paul Larsen, the head greenkeeper and this week's breakout star. He speaks lovingly about his course's grass composition to anyone who'll listen, offering helpful tidbits like "there's no place for rye on a links course." Thanks for the tip, Paul!

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

Exclusive: Meta's civil rights chief aims to "turn the knob" for good

Photo Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Meta

A year ago, Facebook brought in Roy Austin, Jr. to lead a new team focused on civil rights. Since then, he has assembled a squad of experts advising parent company Meta on everything from voting rights to hate speech to ensuring new products don't have discriminatory impact.

The big picture: Austin's team of nine must tackle those tough issues inside a company of nearly 70,000 employees serving more than 3 billion users around the world.

Momentum builds for salary transparency

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New York City will soon require employers to supply a salary range when they're advertising a position — the biggest step yet in the growing but controversial movement for pay transparency.

Why it matters: Laws like New York's aim to give workers, particularly women and people of color, more power in job negotiations. But the rise in remote work is throwing a wrench into the effort.

2 hours ago - Health

Contact tracing fizzles across America

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

States across the country are scaling back their contact tracing efforts, often focusing on vulnerable communities and relying more on Americans to alert close contacts themselves after testing positive for COVID.

Why it matters: As vaccines have become available, the virus has become more infectious and life has slowly headed more toward normal, health officials have come to view contact tracing as a relatively inefficient use of resources.