The Open: 7 best hopes of Great British glory at Royal Portrush

Rory McIlroy carries the hope of a nation as the world's best golfers head to Royal Portrush for the 148th Open. 

Andy Roberts's picture
Thu, 4 Jul 2019
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Rory McIlroy headlines the Great British hopefuls for Open Championship success as his home nation of Northern Ireland hosts the 148th staging of the tournament for the first time in 62 years at the spectacular Royal Portrush.


 

While McIlroy will very much fancy his chances of etching his name on the Claret Jug for the second time in his career following victory at Royal Liverpool in 2014, he certainly won't have an easy task with the likes of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods in the field.

But it's not just Rory carrying the hopes of British victory at The Open - far from it.

GolfMagic's editor Andy Roberts ranks what he considers to be Britain's best chances of Open glory at Portrush on Sunday July 21...

#7 - Graeme McDowell

Odds: 50/1
Age: 39
Best Open finish: T5 (2012)
Best result this season: 1 (Corales Puntacana Championship)
World Ranking: 91
Career wins: 15
Major wins: 1 (2010 US Open)

Graeme McDowell fulfilled one of his lifetime dreams by just even making it into the field at this year's Open Championship.

Despite winning a weak PGA Tour event earlier this season, McDowell was still not guaranteed a place at Royal Portrush with his world ranking position still well outside the top 100.

But with the goal of making Portrush at the forefront of his mind during the RBC Canadian Open with a top-10 finish last month, McDowell duly drained a 30-foot putt on the final hole to do exactly that. WATCH HERE

McDowell knows Portrush like the back of his hand so will have bundles of course experience on his side having played the course numerous times throughout his career. 

Since winning his first tournament in three and half years, McDowell has continued to impress with a number of top-20 finishes in recent weeks, and at the current 50/1 on offer, G-Mac could look a huge each-way shout heading to one of his favourite golf courses on the planet.

#6 - Ian Poulter

Odds: 60/1
Age: 43
Best Open finish: 2 (2008)
Best result this season:  T3 (WGC Mexico, Dubai Desert Classic)
World Ranking: 37
Career wins: 17
Major wins: 0

Ian Poulter has picked up five top-10 finishes on Tour this season and has shown glimpses of getting back to the player many of us all know and love.

Poulter caught fire in February with four top-six finishes in as many weeks, and while he has dipped somewhat in recent weeks, we know for a fact Poulter has been practising hard in preparation for this year's Open Championship - the major he wants to win the most. 

The Englishman has come close to lifting the Claret Jug in the past, none more so than when finishing runner-up to Padraig Harrington at Royal Birkdale in 2008, and he also went close in 2013 with a tie for third at Muirfield. 

With experience on his side at the age of 43 and a love and appreciation of links golf, we are fully expecting Poults to be there or thereabouts on the weekend. 

#5 - Matt Wallace

Odds: 50/1
Age: 29
Best Open finish: MC
Best result this season: 2 (Dubai Desert Classic)
World Ranking: 24
Career wins: 4
Major wins: 0

Matt Wallace may have caused several moments of controversy with his bad temper and caddie outbursts, but the 29-year-old has been enjoying a terrific season of results with five top-10 finishes, including a tie for third at the US PGA. 

Wallace has failed to add a fifth European Tour victory to his resume this season but he has proven a model of consistency, reflected none better than currently leading the European Tour's Race to Dubai standings heading into golf's final major of the season. 

WATCH: WALLACE SLAMMED FOR SHOCKING CADDIE TREATMENT

The Englishman has vaulted up the world rankings to inside the top 30, and all within a very short space of time. Three years ago, Wallace was applying his trade on the lower-tier Alps Tour. 

Wallace may have lost a number of fans of late with his petulance on the course, but there are few more in-form or confident Brits than Wallace right now.

Providing no tantrums, a big each-way shout in current form. 

#4 - Paul Casey

Odds: 40/1
Age: 41
Best Open finish: T3 (2010)
Best result this season: 1 (Valspar Championship)
World Ranking: 15
Career wins: 19
Major wins: 0

Paul Casey is too good a golfer not to have won a major championship, but his time may have finally arrived at Royal Portrush. 

Having defended his Valspar Championship in terrific style earlier this season, Casey has since chalked up top-five finishes at the Wells Fargo and in his last start at the Travelers Championship. 

Regarded as one of the best ball strikers in the game, the 41-year-old Englishman will likely give himself plenty of birdie chances, and if his putter can stay as hot as it has been in recent weeks then he will go very close.

The big question mark over Casey is his ability to string four solid rounds of golf together at a major. Casey has had ample opportunities in the past to win a major but has typically posted one bad round to throw himself out of contention. 

But once ranked third in the world some 10 years ago, Casey has certainly proved of late that he is getting back to that type of form again with a string of impressive results in 2019. 

At odds of 40/1, Casey could prove to be the value pick of the week. 

#3 - Tommy Fleetwood

Odds: 22/1
Age: 28
Best Open finish: T12 (2018)
Best result this season: T3 (Arnold Palmer Invitational)
World Ranking: 20
Career wins: 7
Major wins: 0

Just like Casey, his compatriot Tommy Fleetwood would appear another first-time major winner in waiting. 

A proven horse on the European Tour with four career victories to his name, Fleetwood has this season decided to take his game over the pond to tackle the world's best on the PGA Tour - and rightly so following his solo fourth and second at the US Open in 2017 and 2018. 

Fleetwood came close to bagging his first victory on the PGA Tour with a tie for third at Bay Hill in March, but other than that, it's been a solid year without being spectacular for the 2017 Race to Dubai champion.

Yes, he is playing nicely but the one question mark hanging over the Englishman heading into The Open is his lack of wins in recent times. You have to go back to January 2018 for Fleetwood's last victory anywhere around the world.

The game is in good stead though and Fleetwood is fearless when under the gun - last year's Ryder Cup proved everything you need to know about him.

#2 - Justin Rose

Odds: 14/1
Age: 38
Best Open finish: T2 (2018 Open)
Best result this season: 1 (Farmers Insurance Open)
World Ranking: 4
Career wins: 24
Major wins: 1 (2013 US Open)

Justin Rose quickly dispelled any myths that a golf equipment switch at the start of the year would scupper his career.

Armed with new Honma Golf clubs for the first time on the PGA Tour, the Englishman wasted little time getting a win on the board when taking the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

There haven't been any more wins since but Rose has been playing some very steady golf, just as you would expect for a World No.4. 

A former US Open winner, Olympic gold medallist, Ryder Cup hero and reigning FedEx Cup champion, Rose knows exactly what it takes to get the job done. 

Rose first burst onto our television screens at the 1998 Open when holing out for birdie at the final hole as a fresh-faced amateur at Royal Birkdale en route to a tie for fourth and the low amateur Silver Medal.

How he would now love to position a Claret Jug next to it on the mantelpiece. 

#1 - Rory McIlroy

Odds: 8/1
Age: 30
Best Open finish: 1 (2014 Open)
Best result this season: 3
World Ranking: 
Career wins:
25
Major wins: 4 (2011 US Open; 2012 & 2014 US PGA; 2014 Open)

Rory McIlroy is going to prove a very tough man to beat on home soil as he goes in search of a fifth major title and second Claret Jug.

The Ulsterman fired a course-record 61 at Royal Portrush as a fresh-faced 16-year-old in 2005, so the course will most certainly be to his liking. 

McIlroy landed The Players Championship in March and has picked up an impressive 11 top-10 finishes already in 2019. 

It may have been five years since McIlroy's last major win, but the World No.3 remains unflustered about that. 

McIlroy will certainly be fresh for this having bypassed the Irish Open, he's in tremendous form, knows the course inside out and will have the backing of just about everybody in the crowd. 

There would be no more popular Champion Golf of the Year than McIlroy, and providing his putter co-operates with him, there is every chance it will happen. 

 

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