Open Championship Preview
The final major of the year is upon us, in the quest for the Claret Jug and to be champion golfer of the year. This year Open Championship is being held at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951. Royal Portrush is unfamiliar with most golfers in the field and with the usual links golf strategies and the usual Open weather conditions. This tournament is expected to be a good one with many storylines coming into the tournament. Will Rory Mcllroy win at his home course? Will Brooks Koepka continue his major dominance? How will Tiger Woods do in his first event in over a month? Will there be a first time major winner? How will the crowd and weather come into the play of the tournament? Last but not least who will be the number one in the world by the end of the week? As usual In this preview I will give you my sleepers, my top 11 power rankings, predict a winner and give a winning score prediction.
Rafa Cabera Bello, Eddie Pepperell, Marc Leishman, Shane Lowry, Paul Casey, Brandon Grace, Kevin Kisner and Louis Oosthuizen
All these golfers are international players expect one. They all have links golf experience and some knowledge of Royal Portush, have played on the European Tour or have done well the Open in the past. I buy hard on these golfers to be in the thick of things come Sunday morning.
11 Graeme McDowell
Not only is this is home event but his home course. McDowell is one of the few who contains valuable knowledge of the course for this week. With good form coming into the Open and wit the home crowd here to give him the boost I’m likening McDowell chances to contend for his first Open. Most people will have him as a sleeper for this week but I will be bold and have him as one of the favorites.
10 Justin Rose
I will note how inconsistent his form has been this year since his last win at Torrey Pines. However with his past experiences with links golf and a runner up finish last year keeps me confident in him. His putting is what will put him into contention this week, it’s the only club that has been consistent all year.
9 Francesco Molinari
Ever since his collapse at the Masters Molinari has struggled with his game. However he is also one of the few golfers with experience at Portrush. Not only that but his game always suits links golf especially his fairway accuracy and putting. He is also the defending champion and will be there on Sunday morning looking to reclaim the claret jug.
8 Dustin Johnson
Yes the world number two is rated low on this list for certain reasons. One his game has not been as good since his runner up at the PGA Championship. The another reason is I believe his game does not fit links golf as much as others golfers on this list. Johnson has not been in contention in an Open since 2011 with a runner up finish. Last year Johnson tried to overpower Carnoustie and failed. I simply believe if he wants to contend this week his driver and putter (as always with him) will be key.
7 Henrik Stenson
Playing with good form coming in Stenson best major has always been the Open. Since 2014 Stenson score under par at the Open has been -28, that is third most among active golfers. The way he has been playing the past two months with three top 10s and his Open history. Stenson name will surely pop up towards the top of the leaderboard Sunday morning.
6 Matt Kuchar
You just wonder when Kuchar first major championship will come? In 2017 he was defeated by Jordan Spieth so you have a feeling he is do for one. Oh did I mention Kuchar has been the FedEx Cup leader the entire season? What does that mean you ask? Great play of course and I expect Kuchar to continue his form this week at the Open putting him at six on my list.
5 Xander Schauffele
We head into the top five now with a popular pick this week Xander Schauffele. Schauffele has not played since the US Open but that should be no big deal as he finished tied for 3rd at Pebble Beach. His last six major starts have been T6,T2,T35,T2,T16 and T3. He was the leader at two of those starts during the back nine on Sunday as well. That combined with his great form in 2019 as Schauffele as a popular pick this week and sits him at number five on my list.
4 Adam Scott
Scott has been making some noise with his game as of late with two third place finishes. Like Stenson, Scott has had a good scoring average at Open Championships in the past despite a 2012 win slipping by his fingers on the back nine Sunday. All parts of his game including his putting have been solid and his name has been around major leaderboards this year as well with a T18 T7 T8 which at all three points he was close to the lead. Portrush fits his game very well and if his putting shows up expect Scott to be on the first page of the leaderboard come Sunday morning.
3 John Rahm
Rahm is the hottest golfer coming into the Open this week. His last three starts have been a tie for third, second and a win at the Irish Open. I have always thought the one thing holding him back from breaking through is being in his own head. With his win at the Irish Open and hot play we may be passed that stage of his career and as a result Rahm is one of the favorites this week sits number three my list.
2 Brooks Koepka
I mean the run Koepka has been since 2017 at majors has been incredible. Despite the Open being his worst major statistical wise, it is almost impossible to keep Koepka off the top two on this list. His caddie Ricky Elliot is a member at Royal Portrush and will give Koepka some valuable course knowledge. That alone sounds scary and Koepka will be many pick to win the Open this week. I want to add despite playing on the Challenger Tour and European Tour Koepka has not been a very good links golfer. However with his form recently that may not matter for the world number one and that puts him at two on my list.
1 Rory Mcllroy
The favorite this week in my mind and there are plenty of reasons for this. One this is Mcllroy home course he has played thousands of rounds at Portrush. Nobody knows this course in and out more than Mcllroy. With this also being in his home country as well the crowd will be electric and will follow and root for Rory giving him some motivation and energy to go out and find a way to win. Oh and Mcllroy last four starts at the Open are the following, a win and tie for fifth, fourth and a tie for second last year. Oh and Mcllroy has the best scoring average under par at the Open since 2014 among active golfers. He is the favorite and a popular pick this week.
Ever since Royal Portrush was announced as the host of the 2019 Open Championship Mcllroy been the favorite. It is almost like his destiny to win another Open Championship in front of his country and the course he grew up on and has a history on. With his play at recent Open in the past as I mentioned as above Mcllroy knows how to contend at Open Championships. His play has also been good coming into the Open as well. His course knowledge along with his caddie Harry Diamond who has played more rounds according to Mcllroy which is a good thing to have. As well as feeding off of Tiger Woods like galleries this week means I am going to pick Mcllroy to win the Open Championship this year.
Tiger Woods prediction
This was the first time this year I have not put Tiger Woods in my power rankings at a major. This is because of the conditions how his body will respond ,potential rust and no course knowledge. I have no expectations for Woods this week. However It would not shock me if Woods contends on Sunday morning and lights up Royal Portrush. I’ll be more realistic and go with a top 20 finish for Tiger Woods this week but would love to see number 16 and number 82 this week as well.
Winning score prediction -7
With the conditions and slow greens and golfers not seeing Royal Portrush as much. I believe scores will be around the -4 to -5 range come the final round and the winning score being -7.
By Ashkan Motamedi