February 26, 2024

Five Players to Watch at the British Open

It seems like just yesterday that the best golfers in the game were fighting for a green jacket at the Masters, the first major tournament of the season.

With mid-July here, however, the stage is set for the final major tournament, the British Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England, which starts on Thursday.

It will be interesting to see if Wyndham Clarkwho was a surprise winner at the US Open in June, back him up at the British Open – and whether the world No. 1, Scottie Scheffler, whose name always seems to be on the leaderboard, he will make enough putts to win his second major after taking the Masters last year.

Here are five more players to watch this week.

There is no one more impressive in the majors this year than Koepka. He finished second at the Masters and won the PGA Championship.

At 33, Koepka, with five major titles, is still in the prime of his career. With one more major, he would join greats like Lee Trevino, Nick Faldo and Phil Mickelson with six. Koepka said his goal is to reach double figures in majors, and it’s not out of the question.

“I think sometimes majors are the easiest to win,” he once said. “Half the people shoot themselves off, and mentally I know I can beat most of them.”

Koepka, who signed with the Saudi-funded LIV Golf tour in 2022, is healthy again. With knee and hip injuries mounting over the past few years, his game and confidence have suffered.

With the arrival of all major championships, the same question is for McIlroy, 34: Will he win his fifth title? He’s tied for four since winning the 2014 PGA Championship.

He almost came through at this year’s US Open but failed to birdie No. 8, the vulnerable par 5, and bogeyed No. 14, another par 5, to finish second by a stroke.

McIlroy, who birdied the last two holes to win last week’s Genesis Scottish Open, still time. Neither Mickelson nor Ben Hogan took their first major until they were in their early 30s. On the other hand, McIlroy, who is ranked No. 2, continue to let these opportunities slip away. There is only so much.

He has one big thing coming up this week. It was on the same course in 2014 that he took his solo British Open, winning by two over Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler.

Time, however, is starting to be a factor for rose, who will turn 43 at the end of the month, and is in pursuit of a second major. His first was the 2013 US Open. Since 2000, only Tiger Woods and Mickelson have won majors after their 43rd birthday.

Rose, from England, has shown this year that he still has plenty of game. In February, he won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am with 65 and 66 in his final two rounds. He tied for sixth at the Players Championship, tied for ninth at the PGA Championship and came in eighth at the RBC Canadian Open.

It’s hard to believe, but a quarter of a century has passed since, as a 17-year-old amateur, Rose holed out on the 72nd hole from 50 yards to reach the fourth in the 1998 British Open. It was something,” he said, “that was far beyond anything I could ever imagine or experience.”

Hope to defend his title Smith of Australia, who shot a final round 64 last year to win by a stroke over Cameron Young. McIlroy finished third, two back. Smith, who made eight birdies, did not seem to miss a putt in the final round. Most notable was his save on No. 17, the Hole Road, when he hit a 10-footer after an exquisite third shot around the bunker.

“I knew if I could get it somewhere in there,” said Smith, ranked No. 7, “that I should be able to give him a good enough run.”

Smith, 29, who recently won the LIV Tour event in London, was tied for 34th at the Masters, but tied for ninth at the PGA and tied for fourth at the US Open, closing with a three-under 67. Unless his putter cools off. , he should be in debt.

Still one 26, Morikawa, a two-time major champion, might have found something to turn his season around. Morikawa, ranked No. 19, with a 64 a few weeks ago at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, losing in a playoff to Fowler. It was his first top 10 finish since the Masters, surprising a player of his ability.

His first major came in the 2020 PGA Championship. Morikawa, who shot a final round 64, made a memorable eagle on No. 16 after reaching the green with his tee shot. In 2021, he won the British Open by two shots over Jordan Spieth.

Morikawa hasn’t won since, though, and he’s on a roll.

“I mean frustrated, frustrated is a word I can use,” he said in June.

“It’s been a while, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how” to win, he said. “It’s still there.”

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