We head to Northern Ireland for the Open Championship, which will be played this year at the Royal Portrush Golf Club. This field is absolutely stacked, but the weather and the tricky layout is going to have a lot to say about who is pushing for a major victory. High winds are expected the first two days and possible showers could come into play on the weekend. Anyway, let’s get started.
Here are five golfers to consider throwing on your card this week.
Rory McIlroy, +900 - Rory McIlroy comes into this week playing some of his most consistent golf in quite some time, and he has a major advantage given that he grew up in Northern Ireland and is very familiar with this course. In fact, McIlroy holds the course record at Royal Portrush with 61, a feat he accomplished when he was just 16 years old. The course has changed a bit since then, but that has to hold some weight regardless, and McIlroy admitted he still remembers every shot of that performance to this day. McIlroy is the guy to beat this weekend.
Brooks Koepka, +1000 - I never like to be so chalky with my picks, so having the top-two favorites in this article does make me feel like a sucker a little bit. Still, I’m not sure how anybody leaves Brooks Koepka off their card considering he’s either won or finished runner-up in five of the last six majors. And while that’s not sustainable, Ricky Elliott, Koepka’s caddie, is a native of Portrush and knows this course like the back of his hand. Elliott’s parents live less than a mile from Royal Portrush. Having this duo is incredibly scary and could help produce Koepka’s fifth career major title.
Graeme McDowell, +7500 - Outside of winning the 2010 US Open, Graeme McDowell hasn’t had a ton of success in majors and hasn’t had a top-10 finish since the 2014 Open. What makes McDowell a sneaky valuable play is the fact his brother, Gary, has been a greenskeeper at Royal Portrush for more than 20 years. McDowell has played this course since he was a teenager and says his best score was a 63. These odds don’t reflect the advantages McDowell has over the rest of the field.
Justin Rose, +2000 - Justin Rose is coming off a third place finish at the US Open and has top-10 finishes in four of his last seven major appearances. Rose has top-15 finishes in five of his last eight events overall and has drastically improved his short game these last few months. Rose is going to be in the thick of things as long as he brings his putter along, and I like his chances to become the first Englishman to win The Open in nearly three decades.
Xander Schauffele, +2800 - There’s just some players who shine brightest on the big stages and Xander Schauffele is one of those guys. Schauffele is coming off a third place finish at the US Open and has finished sixth or better in four of his last six major appearances overall. Schauffele has top-25 finishes in seven of his career 10 major appearances. The guy has a thing for the big stages and he’s bound to win one if he continues this impressive stretch. It’s hard to not mention Schauffele this week.