The Open Championship Preview

July 16 2018 – AARON CAMILLERI

The Open Championship Preview
The Open Championship Preview

Golf’s oldest major championship kicks off this week at the 147th Open Championship. Last year, Jordan Spieth added the third leg of the career Grand Slam after a three-stroke win over Matt Kuchar at Royal Birkdale. This year, the Open Championship returns to Carnoustie Golf Links in Angus, Scotland and boasts an incredibly strong field, including Hall-of-Fame past champions Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Ernie Els. Padraig Harrington is the only past-Carnoustie Open Champion in the field, as Paul Lawrie, the 1999 winner is out with a back injury. Other notables include recent major champions Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka, and a strong worldwide contingent including Scotland’s Russel Knox, England’s Andy Sullivan and Australia’s Marc Leishman. There is also a 43 year gap between the youngest and oldest players in the field, with China’s Yuxin Lin (17) and 1985 Open Champion Sandy Lyle (60) taking their shots at the Claret Jug.

Carnoustie Golf Links has hosted some of the most memorable Open Championships in history, especially the last two. The most recent Carnoustie-hosted Open Championship was in 2007, where Sergio Garcia missed a 9-foot par putt at the last hole to win his first major championship. He would lose in a 3-hole playoff to Padraig Harrington, and would have to wait another ten years before finally earning his maiden major victory.

The 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie is arguably the most bizarre finish to a major championship in the last fifty years. Standing on the 18th tee, Jean Van de Velde held a three-shot lead. A bold drive placed him in the fairway, but his second shot went into the grandstands, bounced off a rail and into the fescue. His third shot ended up in the Barry Burn, which led to a ten-minute decision by Van de Velde as to whether or not to play it from the burn. He opted to take a drop, hit his fifth into a greenside bunker, then got it up and down for a triple-bogey 7, which forced a three-man playoff with Justin Leonard and Paul Lawrie. Unfortunately, he would lose in the playoff to Paul Lawrie. Carnoustie has always been known as a tough championship course, which can lead to incredible drama. This year should be no different.

Players To Watch:

Dustin Johnson: Known for thriving on tough tracks, the 2016 U.S. Open Champion will be eager to add the Claret Jug to what has been an incredible career to his trophy case. Look for DJ to be a factor in this year’s Open.

Jason Day: A putt left on the edge on the 72nd hole kept Jason out of a playoff in the 2016 Open Championship which was eventually won by Zach Johnson. An incredible ball striker like JDay will have a great chance to win his second career major championship.

Rickie Fowler: One of the bright young stars in the world is still seeking his first major championship victory. With a runner-up at the 2018 Masters along with another T-5s in last year’s majors shows that he’s got the skills to make it happen. This week’s tournament could be the one.