Golf

2019 Open Golf Championships – Our three to follow at Royal Portrush

The 148th Open Golf Championship – the oldest of all four golfing Majors – will be held, for the second time, at the Royal Portrush Golf Club in County Antrim, Northern Ireland – it was last held at this venue 68 years ago, in 1951. Play will commence early morning of Thursday July 18th, with famous Northern Irish golfer Darren Clarke hitting the opening shot.

Royal Portrush has two courses – it will be the Dunluce Links course used for the Open Championship. Situated on the North Antrim Causeway Coast, Royal Portrush occupies a triangle of giant sand hills with views of the hills of Inishowen in County Donegal in the west, the Isle of Islay and Southern Hebrides in the north, with the Giant’s Causeway and the Skerries in the east. The course is overlooked by the ruins of the 13th century Dunluce Castle, which gives its name to Dunluce course. It is a stunning, beautiful course but one that demands accuracy more than power – and, as always, the wind and weather can have a huge factor on play.

Here, we nominate three golfers as our ones to follow – all looking to hoist aloft the Claret Jug on Sunday afternoon, just as Italian Francesco Molinari (above) did a year ago, winning at Carnoustie by two shots.

TOMMY FLEETWOOD (England)

The likeable Englishman has yet to win a golfing Major and his record at The Open has not been good – but has been getting better. Since he made his Open debut in 2014, he has gone Cut, Cut, Cut, T27, T12 – the improved performances matching his rise in stature and confidence on the Pro Tour. Fleetwood is uber consistent from tee to green and relishes playing links courses. The only drawback here is his putting – which can restrict his scoring given the birdie chances he creates for himself and allow others in. But if he can sink the putts, we feel that Fleetwood will be very much in the mix come Sunday afternoon and maybe, just maybe, finally break a real big one.

MATT KUCHAR (USA)

‘Koooch’ is not getting any younger – but he is, arguably, getting better – and his vast experience can serve him very well around Royal Portrush. He has won twice on the US PGA Tour already this year and despite never winning a Major, has had top 10 finishes on several occasions in all, and was runner up in The Open in 2017 – where Jordan Speith produced the run of his life to beat Kuchar. Strong in all departments and loves the strategies that Links golf brings, Kuchar played the recent Scottish Open as a warm up to this event and has to be considered as a major player here.

LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN (South Africa)

Has won an Open before (2010) and held runner up placings in all four Majors over his illustrious career. Was in the hunt for a long time at the recent U.S Open and though his form has cooled off a little since then, he always peaks for the big event. Has played a few tournaments in the U.K and Ireland as preparation for this and, like Kuchar, will bring a wealth of knowledge, experience and strategy to the course. A great temperament, steely determination and a solid stat line should see Oosthuizen go well. Will he find one better again at Royal Portrush? Maybe, but if you’re looking for someone to give you a real sweat on Sunday afternoon, there will be few better than Louis.

So those are our three to follow – it would have been easy to select the likes of Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson etc – and, as always, all eyes will be on one certain Tiger prowling the Royal Portrush links – but we are happy with our selections and look forward to what should be another superb Open Championship.

THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP – LAST 10 WINNERS

  • 2018 – Francesco Molinari (Italy)
  • 2017 – Jordan Speith (USA)
  • 2016 – Henrik Stenson (Sweden)
  • 2015 – Zach Johnson (USA)
  • 2014 – Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland)
  • 2013 – Phil Mickleson (USA)
  • 2012 – Ernie Els (South Africa)
  • 2011 – Darren Clarke (Northern Ireland)
  • 2010 – Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa)
  • 2009 – Stewart Cink (USA)