The world’s best golfers are in Scotland this week for the 147th Open Championship. Jordan Spieth is the defending champion at Carnoustie Golf Links in Angus.
The Open Championship Preview
Jordan Spieth comes into the event as defending champion, but he is not favourite with the bookmakers following a struggle with recent form. Most are giving favourite status to World Number 1 Dustin Johnson with England’s Justin Rose not too far behind. There’s a strong case to be made for the chances of many of the world’s top-ranked players but Rickie Fowler is much fancied given his strong links record and good performance in last week’s Scottish Open, also U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka who has been a runner-up in the Dunhill Links (an event that includes a round at Carnoustie.)
Justin Rose is part of a strong contingent of British and Northern Irish players looking to secure a home victory. Rory McIlroy will be aiming to claim a second Open title following his 2014 win at Hoylake and Tommy Fleetwood will be looking to draw on good memories of his course record 63 at Carnoustie in last year’s Dunhill Links.
This will be the eighth time Carnoustie has welcomed The Open Championship and there have been some superb contests over the great Angus links. Tommy Armour was champion in 1931 and then Henry Cotton in 1937. Ben Hogan played and won his only Open at Carnoustie in 1953 and Gary Player took the title in 1968. Tom Watson claimed the first of his five Open victories here in 1975 and Paul Lawrie was a worthy home winner in 1999. Last time out at Carnoustie, Padraig Harrington came through a thrilling playoff against Sergio Garcia to win the first of his back-to-back Opens.
The course at Carnoustie is known as one of the toughest tests in world golf. Owing to the dry weather that has prevailed over the past two months, the course is set to be firm and fast-running. This means an extra emphasis on strategy, particularly from the tee. Players will have to assess the best method for staying out of Carnoustie’s magnetic and punishing bunkering. Many will choose to lay up short of the traps but the longer hitters may opt to hit driver to try and fly all the trouble – Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy have already suggested this will be their plan.
It’s a tough track but it doesn’t look like the wind will be too much of a factor this week, so we could well see lower scoring than previous instalments of The Open at Carnoustie. As ever with the links though, the weather can turn quickly and the players will be ready for the test to intensify.
The Open Championship is the most historic and coveted individual prize in men’s golf. First contested in 1860, this will be the 147th instalment of the great event.
The competition was born when James Ogilvy Fairlie, a co-founder of Prestwick Golf Club and a close friend of Old Tom Morris, decided a professional tournament would raise Prestwick’s standing as a golf club. At Fairlie’s instigation, Prestwick sent letters to the leading British Clubs, inviting them to send their professionals for a competition to be held over the links in October 1860. There were eight entrants and Willie Park Snr of Musselburgh was the winner.
For that first Open Championship a red morocco leather and silver ‘Challenge Belt’ was on offer to the winner. No prizemoney was up for grabs, although the professionals were able to earn some pay by caddying for Prestwick members during the week of the competition.
Things have changed a little since then. The winner this week will walk away with the Claret Jug (brought in for the 1873 Open after Young Tom Morris had been allowed to keep the belt following three straight wins) plus a cheque for $1,890,000 and all the trappings that go along with being the “champion golfer for the year.”
Venue: Carnoustie Golf Links, Angus, Scotland
Date: Jul 19-22
Course stats: par 71, 7,402 yards
Purse: $10,500,000 Winner: $1,890,000
Defending champion: Jordan Spieth (-12)
How to watch The Open Championship
Thursday 12 – Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 6.30am
Friday 13 – Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 6.30am
Saturday 14 – Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 9am
Sunday 15 – Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 8am
Not a Sky Sports customer and want to watch The Open Championship?
Why not buy a Now TV pass? For £7.99 you can get a day pass if you wish to watch one of the rounds or, for just £12.99, you can get a week pass to see the whole tournament.
Players to watch:
Amongst the Favourites –
Rickie Fowler: The American is one of the most imaginative players in the game and he loves links golf. He’s been a runner-up back in 2014 and he has a good record in the Scottish Open – a winner in 2015.
The next tier –
Tyrrell Hatton – Another man who plays well on the links, Hatton has won the last two Dunhill Links titles with rounds played at Carnoustie. He was tied ninth last week at Gullane.
An outsider –
Ryan Fox – The big-hitting New Zealander was runner-up in Ireland and then played well again at Gullane. With his power, he could take many of the bunkers out of play at Carnoustie and that could be a big advantage.
Key holes: The finishing three. The 16th is a huge par-3 that can be stretched over 250 yards, the 17th is a complicated par-4 where the players must be accurate with placement from the tee to avoid the snaking Barry Burn. The 18th is, arguably, the toughest finishing hole in golf. The Burn lurks left and right from the tee, out-of-bounds threatens all down the left side while bunkers protect the right. The burn waits again short of the green with bunkers right and OB left and long… It’s witnessed disasters in the past and will likely do so again.