Here we take a look at who may win their first major at Carnoustie. By Henny Fudge
Potential First Time Major Winners At The Open
The Open takes place at Carnoustie this month for the first time since 2007 when Padraig Harrington sealed his first major by pipping Sergio Garcia in a playoff.
Will a first-time major winner be lifting the Claret Jug this time out?
Here we take a look at who may win their first major at Carnoustie…
Potential First Time Major Winners At The Open
Will Rickie Fowler ever win a major? Or will he become the next Montgomerie or Westwood with their trophy cabinets dry of majors? With the four-time PGA Tour winner edging closer and closer to his 30s, some might think his chances for a major title are getting away from him. However his major form continues to flourish, after a T2 at Augusta earlier in April. The Claret Jug might just be round the corner for Rickie.
Fine performances and excellent play continues for Noren after a tight victory at Le Golf National recently. Due to his age many people might take him out of the equation for this tough challenge at Carnoustie. However, his tied 6th finish at Royal Birkdale last year was his best finish in a major. Could that be vital in helping the Swede capture one?
Despite coming off a recent missed cut at Le Golf National, Fleetwood is still probably the top British, or even top European, pick for taking home the Claret Jug. A record-equalling final round performance at Shinnecock Hills last month proves that Fleetwood can produce low round scores around the toughest of major venues. With three victories on the European Tour in the last 18 months, and three top-5s on his debut year on the PGA tour, success has come Fleetwood’s way. He also holds the course record at Carnoustie, after shooting 63 in last year’s Dunhill Links.
No one can ever miss Branden Grace as he always seems to be consistently around the top of leaderboards both in Europe and America. Last year at Royal Birkdale, Grace became the first player to shoot 62 in a major championship. This helped him to a T6th finish to add on to his other major top-10s. The 30-year old’s consistency could play a major part in what’s said to be the toughest closing stretch of holes anywhere if he’s there contending on Sunday afternoon.
There hasn’t been an Australian winner of the Open since Greg Norman in 1993 which gives Leishman an extra urge to get the job done at Carnoustie. The Australian’s near triumph three years ago at St Andrews bodes well for him as he heads into this year’s Open in great form, with six top-10s in the bag this season already. However, with a few examples of twitchy Sunday performances over the last couple of years could his nerves get the better of him?
Since grabbing his maiden PGA Tour victory at the Quicken Loans National, Francesco Molinari has become a worldwide star. After already sealing a victory in the UK this season at the BMW championship at Wentworth, he clearly can play well in Britain. He may have missed the cut at Royal Birkdale last year, however he has recorded top-25 finishes in his last three majors since then so don’t rule his lacklustre major form out.
Rafa Cabrera Bello:
The mighty tall and tanned Spaniard comes into this year’s Open in great form. Rafa has three top-10s and five top-25s on the European Tour this season, setting him in a fine position for a good look at the Claret Jug this year. After winning last year’s Scottish Open prior to Royal Birkdale he was able to continue that success by recording a T4th finish at the Open. Is that two-week performance possible again this year just with his Open finish knocked up three places?
Jon Rahm is known for his controversial fire and passion on the golf course. This desire has in no doubt put him in good stead for becoming the fastest growing player in the game of golf today. Since being the low amateur at the 2016 US Open at Oakmont he has risen to the top five in the world almost within a click of finger. That being said, his major form isn’t great with only one top-10 – a 4th place finish at Augusta earlier this year. However it’s fair to say Rahm would do anything to become the second Spanish golfer to lift the Claret Jug.
Missing all four major cuts in 2015 might make Harman an odd pick for a potential first time major winner. Since draining a 30 footer on the 72nd hole to claim his second PGA Tour victory at Quail Hollow last May, Harman’s form has constantly flourished. Securing eight top-10s already this season – six of them being in his first six tournaments – maybe Brian Harman is Carnoustie’s dark horse.
Another American player who keeps rolling in the top-10s and gaining relentless great form is Tony Finau. The 28-year old, whose career really only got up and running in 2016 after winning the Puerto Rico Open, has recently been knocking on the door for a major win. His huge length off the tee has proven to be an advantage in this year’s majors by recording top-10 finishes in both the Masters and US Open. Could Finau go that one step closer and become the champion golfer of the year?
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