The PGA Tour is slowly working its’ way to the finish line as a riveting event is set to start on Thursday, the British Open.
The Open will take place in Northern Ireland at Royal Portrush. It’s the first time its’ been held there since 1951.
Although the Tour hasn’t been at Portrush in 68 years, it’s not strange terrain for hometown native Rory McIlroy. At the age of 16, McIlroy set the course record in a round of golf with a score of 61. It’s easy to see why Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has him as the odds on favorite.
Royal Portrush offers plenty of headaches and resistance starting right at the first hole. The initial tee shot will be key as any lapses in judgment will lead to a trip to either of the two bunkers surrounding the greens.
After the first hole, things get a bit easier with a quick pick-me-up at Hole 5 (a par 4). The first five holes are imperative for getting off to a fast start because Hole 7 is a newly installed par 5.
Indeed, the British Open’s course will feature plenty of challenges and chaos especially when you account for the rain and high winds we should expect to see.
Now, let’s focus on the golfers that could find themselves hoisting the trophy on Sunday.
Francesco Molinari (Defending Champion)
Vegas Odds: 20-1
You can’t begin to talk about an event without mentioning the defending champion. Last year’s British Open winner Francesco Molinari rolls into this event with 20-1 odds, which is generous for a guy who has been struggling since his top five finish at the Masters.
Maybe being back in Ireland will inspire Molinari to recapture such glory.
Rory McIlroy (Hometown Native)
Vegas Odds: 8-1
McIlroy has the best odds of winning this event and that comes with familiarity at Portrush. He was tied for second in this event a year ago and won it back in 2014. That was also the same year he won his last major.
The Northern Ireland native has struggled the last few years, but he has been revitalized this year with a steady putt game to go along with his powerful drives. McIlroy has two wins this year, but winning a major would complete his comeback.
Vegas Odds: 10-1
After finishing in second at both the Masters and U.S. Open, Koepka has to be itching to collect his fifth major victory. On a course that is supposed to be as tricky as they come and with troubling weather, expect Koepka to remain relentless on the greens.
Vegas Odds: 18-1
Woods is always a threat in majors especially after winning the Masters earlier this year. He has won the Open three times, but hasn’t won it since 2013.
At this point in his career, Tiger is more of a rhythm golfer. If he starts off hot, he could be in for a big weekend. However, a slow start could result in an early exit.
By the way, winning this major would make Woods the oldest player ever to win multiple majors in a season. That only adds to the suspense.
Vegas Odds: 25-1
I’m going out on a limb here with Cantlay, but stay with me. Cantlay suffered a back injury a few years back that caused him to miss a year like Tiger. And like Tiger, Cantlay is trending in the right direction before a major.
Woods might have only had one top 10 finish leading up to his “stunning” win at the Masters, but he had played well up to that point. Woods would get off to hot starts and not finish the deal before winning big.
For Cantlay, it’s much of the same. He has a tour win and is leading the PGA in scoring with an average of 69. In addition, Cantlay has more top 10 finishes than he has had in the last two years.
Don’t be surprised if Cantlay is the last man standing on Sunday.
First, Matt Kuchar leads the PGA in FedEx points so expect a strong outing from him. Meanwhile, Adam Scott has three top 10 finishes in his last three events, including the U.S. Open. Look for him to put away a few birdies to shake things up.
Next, Dustin Johnson is always a threat because he is one of the best golfers in the world. The problem seems to be with his tee shots and putt game. A hot start by DJ could spell bad news for the field.
Finally, youngsters Jon Rahm and Xander Schauffele are still looking for their crowning moment. With top 10 finishes by both guys at the Masters and U.S. Open, they could be in for a big weekend.
While Cantlay provides a lot of the goods Woods showed leading up to his win at the Masters, it’s hard to go against Koepka. He has been right there in the last two majors as he finished second in both of them. Also, he thrives in chaos.
While everyone struggled at Shinnecock at the 2018 U.S. Open due to a less-than-desired course, Koepka overcame the circumstances and won the event at one-over. He will be just at home at Royal Portrush.