2018 Open Championship Golf Ante-Post Preview
The 2018 Open Championship (July 19-22) sees Golf’s most prestigious tournament head back to Scotland, where the best players in the world will do battle for the Claret Jug on the famous links of Carnoustie.
It will be the eighth time Carnoustie has hosted the Open Championship, and the winner will join a tremendous role of honour that comprises Tommy Armour (1931), Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), and Padraig Harrington (2007).
Carnoustie is also notorious for being one of the most difficult courses on the open rota, especially if the wind blows, and final-day dramas are common-place. Only Ben Hogan went into the final round as favourite, with several winners coming from way off the pace. However, nothing quite epitomised Carnoustie better than the 1999 Open Championship, when Jean Van De Velde blew a 5-shot lead, despite still holding a 3-shot lead on the final hole. The beneficiary was Paul Lawrie who made up 10-shots in the final round to force a 4-hole play-off which he duly went on to win.
The 2007 Open Championship also provided plenty of drama, as Harrington looked to have blown his chance of winning back-to-back Open Championships when double-bogeying the tremendously difficult eighteenth hole, only for Sergio Garcia to give him another chance, which he went onto take.
Despite those wins for Irish and Scottish Players, and Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke have won for Ireland since, there has been no English winner of the Open Championship since Nick Faldo won the last of his three Open Championships in 1992.
Therefore, the big question is are any of the English players value to lift the Claret Jug in July?
Justin Rose is the shortest-priced of the English Players at 25/1, but the man who was once the boy who finished fourth at Birkdale as a 17-year-old amateur has not really made his mark on the Open Championship since.
There’s also the talented Paul Casey but, as he struggles to close out tournaments on a regular basis on the PGA Tour, it’s hard to see him claiming a major at this stage of his career.
Therefore, England’s best hopes of Open Championship success could come be two players in their twenties who have made massive improvement over the last two seasons, step forward Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrell Hatton.
Buoyed by the success of becoming the new European number-one, Fleetwood could climb to new-heights this season, and the world number 18 was brought up on the links of Southport. He also already has history at Carnoustie having shot a Course Record 63 at the 2017 Dunhill Links, a tournament he traditionally does well in when in form.
Meanwhile, world number 17 Tyrell Hatton has shown that links-golf is right up his street having won the last two Dunhill Links competitions by 4-shots and 3-shots, shooting rounds of 65 and 67 at Carnoustie in the process.
Carnoustie is likely to be set-up much harder for the Open Championship than it is for the Dunhill Links, but that hasn’t stopped the likes of Paul Lawrie and Padraig Harrington winning both a Dunhill Links and an Open Championship at Carnoustie.