As The Open, the oldest and arguably the most prestigious event in the golfing calendar, commenced today, experts from across the world are up with their hot favourites. However, looking at the record Royal Birkdale possesses, it is going to be a tricky affair to zero-in on a single golfer in particluar. Royal Birkdale has a very scintillating history and even though being one of the newest entrants on The Open rota, it is hosting the championship for the 10th time since it first came to it in 1954. Interestingly, out of the earlier nine editions, seven were won by first timers!
This season too includes several first timers, including a few who would feel the breeze of a major for the first time. To the delight of every Indian, Anirban Lahiri (ranked 67) and Shiv Kapur (ranked 300) would be representing their country at the Royal Birkdale. Anirban, who’s best finish at The Open was a T31 in 2015, will be looking to top his best finish in a major, his T5 at the PGA Championships also in 2015. Kapur, in the meantime, returned to the winners club a couple of months ago with his Asian Tour win at the Yeangder Open, where he fired a stunning final round 64.
Looking at the current standing at The Open, five names emerge as the top contenders for the title. DSport is live telecasting all the action from the Royal Birkdale. Let’s talk about their chances at claiming the ultimate prize:
For the 2014 US Open champion and gold medallist at the 2016 Olympics, a win this week would be a perfect bookend to his glorious career that was launched at this very venue in 1998 as a 17-year-old schoolboy finishing T4.
McIlroy has had two top ‘fives’ in the last three years at this tournament. He seems like he’s wandering a bit right now, but he can snap out of that at any moment. Look back at 2014: He missed the cut at the Irish Open, shot a 78 at the Scottish Open and went on to win three straight events including two majors. I don’t want to be on the wrong side of that prediction.
How great would it be if Garcia won the Masters and the Open in the same year after nearly two decades of futility? He’s second to only Scott in the last five years with three top 10s, and they have come in each of the last three years. He was lights out for most of the U.S. Open as well.
A freak back injury the week of the Masters this year forced the World No 1 to withdraw from the tournament and he has struggled to find the same form he displayed until April this year. However, Johnson is always a big threat and cannot be casted aside.
The double Major champion from 2015 needs his trusty putter to be his best pal again. Royal Birkdale suits his astute ability and he could carve his way successfully around a course that demands great strategy and patience.