British Open Golf

British Open

Carnoustie is often described as the toughest course on the Open Championship rota and the world’s top golfers will know they have been tested come Sunday night.

At 7,402 yards and with firm fairways and thick rough, the venue for the 147th Open Championship will provide a stern test for the 156 players that will tee it up on Thursday.

The English challenge

Incredibly, it has been 26 years since an Englishman held aloft the Claret Jug and that was the legendary Nick Faldo when he secured his third Open victory at Muirfield.

Since then many have come close but they just haven’t been able to cross the line and this week could be a similar story.

Justin Rose (17.00) looks the most likely person to end the long wait, especially as he knows what it takes to win a Major Championship.

The 2013 US Open winner has one top-10 and two top-15 finishes at The British Open, including a T12 the last time the event was held at Carnoustie in 2007.

Another Englishman with high hopes this week is Tommy Fleetwood (21.00), who has not only been in good form but he also has happy memories of playing in Angus.

The 27-year-old, who finished second at last month’s US Open, currently holds the course record, after carding a nine-under-par 63 in last year’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Lee Westwood (81.00) and Ian Poulter (51.00) have both finished runners-up in past Open Championships and they will feel they can still be contenders in their 40s.

Of the younger Englishman, Tyrrell Hatton will feel he is playing well enough to challenge and take the next step. At the age of just 26, the man from High Wycombe (7.75 Top Five Finish) has already secured three top-10 finishes in Majors and was T5 at Royal Troon two years ago.

British and Irish hopes

The last time Carnoustie held the tournament, Irish eyes were smiling when Padraig Harrington collected his first Major title.

The Dubliner lifted the Claret Jug after a play-off success over Sergio Garcia in 2007 and then retained the title at Royal Birkdale 12 months later.

Harrington (101.00 First Round Leader) has not won on the European Tour for two years and has missed the cut at his last two tournaments, which would make a third Open title look unlikely.

The last British golfer to win the British Open was Rory McIlroy at Royal Liverpool back in 2014 and the 29-year-old can be backed at 17.00 to claim his fifth Major title this week.

Paul Lawrie was the last Scottish winner of The Open and that was at Carnoustie in 1999. The veteran Scot misses out through injury, but there are still high hopes of a home victory in 2018.

Russell Knox collected the Irish Open title two weeks ago and that triumph has seen him move into the top 50 in the world rankings.

The man from Inverness has three top-15 finishes in his last four events and also recorded two rounds of 66 at the recent Scottish Open at Gullane. Knox is 67.00 to win the Claret Jug and can be backed at 6.25 to claim a top-10 finish.

European Contenders

European hopes are high heading to the east coast of Scotland, with the main challenge likely to come from Scandinavia and Spain.

Henrik Stenson was the winner at Troon two years ago and the Swede can be backed at 29.00 to repeat the feat this year. But it’s a fellow countryman of Stenson’s that looks to offer the better value at the same price.

Alex Noren is currently second in the Race to Dubai standings after a season to remember so far. The 35-year-old has picked up six European Tour titles in the last three years, including success at the French Open earlier this month.

Noren (5.40 Top Continental European) has shown a liking for links golf, winning the Scottish Open in 2016 and finished T6 at last year’s Open Championship.

The Spanish charge is likely to be led by Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia. Garcia has more experience but Rahm goes into the tournament in better form.

The 23-year-old (10.00 Top European) is playing in just his third British Open, but heads to Carnoustie after top-five finishes at both the Open de France and the Irish Open.

Garcia finished runner-up here in 2007 and has finished in the top-10 in three of the last four years. The Ryder Cup star is 3.75 to finish in the top 10 again.

American stars can shine

Three of the last five Open Championship winners have come from the USA, with Jordan Spieth defending the title he collected at Royal Birkdale last year. Spieth goes in search of his fourth Major title this week and is 19.00 to win back-to-back Claret Jugs.

As world number one, Dustin Johnson is the 13.00 favourite to collect the prize come Sunday and with three top-10 and two top-15 finishes in nine Open appearances, you can understand why.

Another American with a liking for links golf is Rickie Fowler, who has only missed the cut once in eight previous Open Championships. He finished T6 at Gullane last week and is 17.00 to be top of the leaderboard on Sunday evening.

After finishing T2, Winner and 4th in his last three Majors, Masters champion Patrick Reed is another expected to be high on the leaderboard and the 27-year-old is 46.00 to be the leader at the end of the first round.

Rest of the World test

In recent years, the Rest of the World challenge has been strong with two South African winners in the last eight years.

There have also been two Australian runners-up in recent years – Adam Scott in 2012 and Marc Leishman in 2015.

Leishman lost in a play-off to Zach Johnson at St Andrews and the man from Victoria offers decent value at 41.00 in the Outright Winner market.

Scott (81.00) meanwhile, has not won a tournament for two years and despite his excellent record in The Open (five top-10 finishes) his lack of form would explain the long odds on offer.

Outside of the Aussie challenge, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama looks good value at 41.00 with one top-10 and two top-20 finishes in the last five appearances at the British Open.