All the things it’s essential to learn about The Open at Royal Portrush

PORTRUSH, Northern Eire — The Open is returning to Irish soil for the primary time in 68 years this week, with golf’s greatest gamers gathering at Royal Portrush Golf Membership for the yr’s last main championship.

The 148th version of The Open is being known as the best sporting occasion in Northern Eire’s historical past. Tickets for all 4 days of the event offered out for the primary time in historical past and greater than 190,000 followers are anticipated to attend.

Here is every little thing it’s essential to learn about The Open:

Concerning the course

Royal Portrush Golf Membership, based in 1888 on the northern coast of Northern Eire, is the one membership exterior of England and Scotland to host The Open. It was the location of the 80th Open Championship in 1951, when Max Faulkner received the Claret Jug.

In 2014, the R&A introduced that Royal Portrush was returning to The Open rota. Beginning in November 2015, golf architects Mackenzie & Ebert spent 18 months redesigning and lengthening the Dunluce hyperlinks course to accommodate fashionable gamers.

They designed 5 new greens, eight new tee containers, 10 new bunkers and two new holes — Nos. 7 and eight, on land that was initially a part of the adjoining Valley Course. What was initially the seventh gap on Dunluce is now the ninth, adopted by the identical Nos. 10-16 holes that have been a part of Harry Colt’s design in 1929.

The unique 17th and 18th holes on Dunluce, which have been considered moderately unusual for ending holes in a significant championship, have been eliminated to accommodate house for tents and different buildings wanted for The Open.

Holes to know

Two of probably the most dramatic holes on the Dunluce Course are situated close to the Atlantic Ocean shore.

The par-4, 374-yard fifth, known as “White Rocks,” is extensively considered the course’s signature gap. It’s a dogleg gap, from left to proper, with an elevated tee shot towards the Atlantic Ocean. It requires a daring tee shot over a large expanse of thick tough, which is much more treacherous when the wind is howling. The inexperienced sits perched on the very fringe of the course, with White Rocks Seaside (and out of bounds) about 50 ft beneath.

The 236-yard, par-3 16th (previously the 14th) is called “Calamity Corner” and requires an uphill tee shot over a yawning void. Making issues worse, there’s a deep chasm, coated in nasty tough, to the suitable of the small inexperienced.

The 2 new holes are thought-about among the many observe’s greatest. The par-5, 592-yard seventh, often known as “Curran Point,” may problem even the longest hitters. The elevated tee field is uncovered to the wind, which can make it tougher hitting to a slim fairway protected by a maze of dunes. Gamers additionally must keep away from an enormous bunker on the suitable aspect, a duplicate of “Big Nellie,” the celebrated bunker on the unique 17th gap.

The brand new eighth gap, “Dunluce,” is a dogleg-left, 434-yard par Four that requires gamers to drive over dunes to a slim fairway. Its inexperienced has an enormous false entrance, which will definitely declare its share of victims this week.

The favorites

Brooks Koepka
At this level, it nearly looks as if a much bigger story if Koepka would not win a significant. He has received 4 of the previous 9 majors and completed runner-up twice. And the way’s this for a bonus: His caddie, Ricky Elliott, is a local of Portrush and performed the previous Dunluce course as a junior. That may solely assist Koepka.

Rory McIlroy
Yeah, he hasn’t received a significant in practically 5 years and wasn’t in competition at Augusta or Bethpage Black and did not end properly at Pebble Seaside. However he nonetheless has two wins and 11 top-10s in 14 PGA Tour begins this season. While you mix McIlory’s expertise and native information, the native son is likely to be robust to beat with the house crowd behind him.

Francesco Molinari
Molinari stared down Tiger Woods within the last spherical of The Open in 2018 at Carnoustie and received by two pictures to turn into the primary Italian to win a significant. However he hasn’t performed very properly since his collapse on Sunday at Augusta this yr, ending tied for 48th on the PGA Championship and tied for 16th on the U.S. Open.

Dustin Johnson
The No. 2 participant on the planet has been at his greatest this season within the majors, ending tied for second on the Masters and solo second on the PGA Championship. One trigger for concern: Johnson was tied for 35th at Pebble Seaside, the place wind was additionally an element. DJ missed the minimize at Carnoustie final yr and hasn’t performed properly on this occasion throughout his profession, apart from a tie for second in 2011.

Justin Rose
The previous World No. 1 missed the minimize on the Masters and tied for 29th on the PGA Championship. However he was in competition on the U.S. Open till capturing 74 on Sunday and ending tied for third. Rose is probably the most improved putter on Tour, and that may give him an opportunity to turn into the primary Englishman to win the Open since Nick Faldo in 1992.

Jon Rahm
The Spaniard simply received the Irish Open for the second time in three years and has performed properly in two of the three earlier majors this season, ending tied for ninth on the Masters and tied for third on the U.S. Open. He hasn’t completed larger than a tie for 44th in three appearances at The Open.

Tiger Watch

Tiger Woods was one of many first gamers out on Royal Portrush for a Sunday morning apply. Nonetheless, he has not performed event golf in a month, since ending tied for 21st on the U.S. Open.

Woods has made solely three begins since profitable the Masters in April at Augusta Nationwide for his 15th main championship. After profitable a inexperienced jacket for a fifth time, he did not play earlier than lacking the minimize at Bethpage Black and hasn’t performed since a disappointing end at Pebble Seaside.

Nonetheless, Woods was in competition at The Open at Carnoustie final yr till a forgettable begin to his again 9 on Sunday, when he had a double-bogey on the 11th and bogey on the 12th.

Woods spent a lot of the previous month touring along with his household in Thailand. He has received The Open thrice, most lately at Royal Liverpool in 2006.

Why is not Matthew Wolff right here?

It is a disgrace the rookie sensation with the funky swing will not be teeing it up at Royal Portrush this week. Wolff, the reigning NCAA Participant of the Yr from Oklahoma State, received the 3M Open in solely his third begin as a professional with a back-nine 31 and walk-off eagle on No. 18 within the last spherical.

Whereas the victory secured Wolff a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a spot in subsequent yr’s Masters and PGA Championship and a $1.152 million payday, it did not earn him a spot in The Open Championship. This previous week’s John Deere Traditional is among the many qualifying occasions for The Open — however not the 3M Open. To qualify, Wolff wants to complete within the high 5 and above every other gamers who had not but certified. He entered Sunday’s last spherical in a tie for 33rd.

Salvaging the majors

Listed below are some gamers who need to rebound after disappointing performances within the first three majors this season:

Tommy Fleetwood
The 28-year-old hasn’t received on the PGA Tour, however he was runner-up on the 2018 U.S. Open and tied for 12th at Carnoustie. He hasn’t been practically pretty much as good in majors this season, nonetheless, with a tie for 36th at Augusta, tie for 48th on the PGA Championship and tie for 65th on the U.S. Open.

Rickie Fowler
The most effective participant to by no means win a significant is now 0-for-39 in golf’s greatest occasions. He grabbed a share of the early lead at Pebble Seaside earlier than imploding with a 77 on Friday. He tied for ninth at Augusta and tied for 36th at Bethpage Black. His greatest end in The Open was a tie for second at Royal Liverpool in 2014.

Jordan Spieth
The three-time main winner’s recreation stays a large number, after a tie for 65th on the U.S. Open and a missed minimize on the Vacationers. He was in competition at Carnoustie final yr till a final-round 76, and his final victory got here at The Open in 2017 at Royal Birkdale.

Justin Thomas
A wrist harm derailed JT’s season after a sizzling begin. He tied for 12th at Augusta, missed the PGA Championship due to the harm after which missed the minimize on the U.S. Open. He ranks 10th in pictures gained whole however solely 166th in pictures gained placing.

Homeland heroes

Fairly a number of gamers from Northern Eire and Eire can be competing in The Open:

Rory McIlroy
The four-time main winner can be returning to a course the place he is very snug and had nice success. McIlroy grew up in Holywood, Northern Eire, and he set the Dunluce course document at Royal Portrush when he was 16 with an 11-under 61 within the 2005 North of Eire Novice Championship.

Darren Clarke
Clarke, the 2011 Open winner at Royal St. George’s, lives in Portrush and is an honorary member of the membership. Clarke, 50, has missed the minimize in three of the earlier 4 Opens.

Graeme McDowell
McDowell was born in Portrush and splits his time between Orlando, Florida, and there. The 2010 U.S. Open champion certified for The Open at his residence course by ending tied for eighth on the RBC Canadian Open in June.

Padraig Harrington
Harrington, 47, grew up in Dublin and is an honorary member at Portrush. He has received six instances on the PGA Tour and 15 instances on the European Tour, together with The Open at Carnoustie in 2007 and Royal Birkdale in 2008.

Shane Lowry
Lowry, 32, received the Irish Open as an novice in 2009 and has one victory on the PGA Tour — the 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He has three top-10s in 11 PGA Tour begins this season, together with a tie for second on the Canadian Open.

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Mark Schlabach

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