The golfing world is preparing itself for the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie (July 19-22) and it could easily be 14/1 the field or bigger by the time the players tee it up in Scotland. That’s because there’s plenty of in-form players that look ready to step-up to claim another major or even the first major of their careers.
However, there’s also plenty of great action in the build-up to the third major of the season. Both the Irish Open and the Scottish Open will give players ample opportunity to acclimatise to the type of fast bouncy fairways the unusually dry British summer has created. Meanwhile, the PGA Tour’s next two tournaments, The Greenbriar and the John Deere Classic, give players two final chances to claim places at the Open.
Meanwhile, July’s big events could also have plenty of influence on both the European and American Ryder Cup squads. We’ll take a look at the current Ryder Cup standings later, but we’ll kick-off with a review of the best of the golfing action from June.
European Tour Round-Up – June
June had a bit of everything as Mikko Korhonen proved sub-four-hour rounds and being on the clock for all 72-holes of a golf tournament needn’t spoil your game as he shot –16 to win the inaugural Shot Clock Masters.
Meanwhile, Matt Wallace must be coming close to catching the eye of Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn after recording his third win in the last 12 months at the BMW International Open. However, one player who secured his spot in the 2018 European Ryder Cup Team in style is Alex Noren. The Swede, who won the 2018 French Open at Le Golf National, will be looking forward to returning to this year’s host venue for the Ryder Cup in September.
PGA Tour Round-Up – June
Dustin Johnson won June’s opening event, the FedEx St Jude Classic, to maintain his position as world number one. However, despite carrying that form into the first two rounds of the following week’s US Open, he eventually succumbed to Brooks Koepka who was making his own piece of history in becoming the first US Open Champion to defend his title since Curtis Strange in 1988/89. It was then the turn of Bubba Watson to make his own piece of history as he became the first player to win the Travellers Championship for the third time.
Meanwhile, hindsight is a wonderful thing, but there had to be a reason why Francesco Molinari missed the French Open in the year the Ryder Cup is being played at Le Golf National. Twice a runner-up in the French Open, Molinari showed us why he chose to play the Quicken Loans National for the first time instead, as he romped to an eight-shot victory. The Italian now looks almost certain to be in Europe’s Ryder Cup Team come September.
European Tour Schedule – July
The excellent new scheduling of the European Tour means players can now play themselves into form for the Open Championship at both the Irish Open and the Scottish Open. This year’s Irish Open (July 5 – 8) takes place at the Ballyliffin Golf Club, an event sponsored and hosted by the Rory McIlroy foundation. McIlroy won the Irish Open in 2016 but had to watch as new European superstar John Rahm won it last year at Portstewart. Rahm could well defend after going close at the French Open, where one bad shot cost him a triple-bogey and the title.
Meanwhile, the Aberdeen Assets Management Scottish Open (July 12 – 15) returns to Gullane where American Rickie Fowler won in 2015. However, the last two renewals have been won by European Ryder Cup hopefuls Alex Noren and Rafa Cabrero-Bello. After the Open Championship, the European Tour heads off to Germany for the Porsche European Open (July 26 – 29) at the Green Eagle Golf Courses, and Masters Champion Patrick Reed is expected to extend his stay in Europe to play the event. Meanwhile, a few Ryder Cup hopefuls that could do with a big month, and therefore may be worth backing in the lead-up to the Open Championship, include Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Ross Fisher, and Ian Poulter.
PGA Tour Schedule – July
The Greenbriar (July 5 – 8) kicks-off July on the PGA Tour and it was this event in which Xander Schauffele announced himself to the world last year before going on to win the Tour Championship at the end of the season. Another player who announced himself on the big stage last year in July was Bryson DeChambeau who won the John Deere Classic to earn himself a place in the Open Championship. However, after already winning this season’s Memorial Tournament, the world number 22 has already booked his ticket to Carnoustie this year. However, one player who is probably looking forward to a tournament just after the Open is Jhonattan Vegas, who will be bidding for a hat-trick of wins in the Canadian Open (July 26 – 29).
The Open Championship
Of course, the tournament that everyone wants to win in July is the Open Championship (July 19-22) and, with many bookies already going 12/1 the field, it’s not hard to see those odds lengthening even further if the market leaders like Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, and Jordan Spieth don’t win a tournament between now and then. Therefore, this may well be the most open Open of Open Championships ever.
The venue Carnoustie is also a bit of an unknown factor. Six of the seven previous Open Championships to be held at Carnoustie have been won by multiple major winners such as Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, and Tom Watson. However, Watson started a trend by winning the first of his eight majors here in 1975, as Paul Lawrie won his one and only major when winning at Carnoustie (nicknamed “Carnastie” that year) in 1999. However, it played nowhere near as tough in 2007 when Padraig Harrington also won the first of his three majors with a total of –7 par.
Therefore, the fact the last three winners won their first major here at Carnoustie gives hope that golf will have another new name on the Claret Jug in 2018. That was also the case in eight of the last nine Open Championships, whilst 11 of the last 14 major winners have also been first-time major winners.
Of course, the chances of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, and Brooks Koepka adding another major to their CV’s are hard to dismiss, whilst Tiger Woods could easily get in contention if he doesn’t have to hit driver off many tees at Carnoustie.
However, if there is a to be another first-time major winner, there’s plenty of talent just queueing up to get their name on the Claret Jug. Tommy Fleetwood must be high on that list after being placed in the last two US Opens, as he’s already performed well around Carnoustie in the Dunhill Links. Rickie Fowler and John Rahm have also shown that links golf holds no terrors for them. There’s then experienced and in-form players like Francesco Molinari, Alex Noren, Paul Casey, and Ian Poulter.
There’s also other links specialists like Branden Grace, Thorbjorn Olesen, and Tyrell Hatton. It’s also impossible to discount the likes of Hideki Matsuyama, Matt Fitzpatrick, Rafa Cabrero-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau, Paul Dunne, Haotong Li, and Kiradech Aphibarnrat. Bring it on – the 147th Open Championship looks sure to be a thriller!
2018 Ryder Cup Standings
Ryder Cup hopefuls will be trying to put the Ryder Cup to the back of their minds this month with The Open Championship being one of the few events that trumps its importance. However, the competition for Ryder Cup Places is fierce on both sides of the Atlantic. Players who are currently automatic picks or those who could move into the standings with a good performance or two may well be worth considering for betting purposes in the coming weeks.
European Ryder Cup Standings
European Points List
(The four players in bold in the European Points List and Word Points List are currently in qualifying positions + 4 wildcard picks)
European World Points List
American Ryder Cup Standings