Rory McIlroy may be out of the picture but there are still a number of players from Britain and Ireland who will start The Open with a very real chance of victory. Here we take a look at five of those men.
The World Number 7 will be the top ranked player from Britain and Ireland in the field for The Open at St Andrews. He’s already a Major winner having prevailed in the US Open of 2013, and he’s consistently proved himself to be a man for the big occasion. He was tied for second in this year’s Masters and has finished in the top-10 in six further Major Championships. Rose is a methodical and precise player with a game that should be well suited for the tests posed by the Old Course. He finished second in the Dunhill Links Championship of 2007; an event culminating at St Andrews. Rose is clearly a good links player, as evidenced by his victory in the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen.
The Englishman has enjoyed a resurgence of form this year and has climbed back into the top-25 on the Official World Golf Ranking. He has recorded six top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour in 2015, including a tie for sixth at the Masters and a second place in the Travelers Championship just three weeks ago.
Last time The Open was at St Andrews in 2010, Casey played in the final group on Sunday with Louis Oosthuizen. He was right in the mix until a hooked drive on the 12th resulted in a triple bogey seven. Casey ended the week in a tie for third. The 37-year-old also has four top-10 finishes in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship to his name so the Old Course is clearly a track he enjoys.
The Irishman is on a great run of form and has a game that was honed on, and is perfectly suited to, the links. He won his first European Tour title as an amateur back in 2009 when he triumphed over the links at Co Louth to take the Irish Open, and he has consistently performed well on links courses since then. He has been third and sixth in the last two Dunhill Links Championships at St Andrews and he finished in the top-10 in The Open Championship last year at Hoylake.
He proved at Chambers Bay that he can cut it with the very best when the going gets tough – he finished in a tie for ninth there.
The talented Scot has the game to be a contender in the Majors but is yet to show his best in one of the year’s big four events. This tournament could provide an opportunity for him to produce a breakthrough performance. He’s played solidly on the 2015 European Tour and is currently 22nd on the Race to Dubai ranking. He also played well in the US Open to finish in a tie for 27th.
Like most Scottish players, he knows how to negotiate the links. He was third in the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen last year, and third at Castle Stuart in 2012 – an event he really should have won: He dropped four shots in his last four holes to lose it by one.
The young Englishman has been enjoying some excellent form of late and is into the top-50 on the Official World Golf Ranking. He reached the last eight of the WGC-Match Play, was tied sixth at Wentworth and tied for 27th in the US Open – his first made cut at a Major. He has a great record in the Dunhill Links, and that shows he has the game for St Andrews. He was second last year, narrowly missing out to Oliver Wilson, and has been fifth in two of his three further appearances.
Fleetwood has the game to win a Major and could be a surprise package at the Home of Golf.