The Confidence Factor: Horses for Courses 148th Open Championship

Royal Portrush is the site for the first time since 1951 to host The Open.

Looks a right beauty!

The Open Championship returns to Northern Ireland and Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951 to identify the champion golfer of 2019. The final major of the season will have 155 contestants chasing Francesco Molinari as he defends his title on the par 71 (7,344 yard) Dunluce Links.

I don’t think gamers will learn much stretching all the way back to 1951 or even results from the Senior British Opens that were contested here back in the late 90s and early 00s.

But, gamers should be aware that Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy all are from the area.

So is Brooks Koepka’s caddie Ricky Elliott.

McDowell’s brother is on the grounds staff at Royal Portrush and Irishman Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry have fared quite well over the years on links golf in this part of the world.

Royal Portrush hosted the 2012 Irish Open, won by Jamie Donaldson (not entered) by four strokes on 18 under over Rafa Cabrera Bello (playing) and the 2014 Amateur, won by Bradley Neil (not entered) as he defeated Zander Lombard (playing).

In 2015, Martin Ebert was tasked with getting Royal Portrush into “Open” shape. Changes have been made in plenty of areas since these two events were last contested but most of the historical features from its inception in 1888 haven’t changed. The fine fescue still runs over the sand dunes and there aren’t any trees on the course to be found. Gorse and other native grasses lie just yards off the fairway and will devour any loose shots.

The last player to win a major championship outside of the OWGR top 50 was Keegan Bradley at the 2011 PGA Championship so class will figure this week as well as experience in this part of the world. Similar to the U.S. Open, I believe there are more than a few who are not enamored with this style of play. History points them out over past results in this event so I’m looking there for clues as well. I’m also looking at recent results from the links events on the European Tour.

Of the last nine winners, seven have played the week prior including Molinari (T2, JDC) last year.

Phil Mickelson is the last player to win the Scottish Open and win The Open (2013) the following week. Of the last 11 winners of the Scottish Open, only two have backed up their wins with a top-10 finish (Rafa Cabrera Bello, T4, 2017).

Padraig Harrington is the last player to defend the Claret Jug (2007-2008).

Ben Curtis joined Tom Watson as the only two players to win in their first attempt.

Branden Grace holds the majors record of 62 (2017, Royal Birkdale) and Henrik Stenson (-20, Royal Troon) owns the tournament scoring record.

Rory McIlroy holds the course record of 61 set in 2005. He turned pro two years later.

Need more Course Info? Check Rob Bolton’s Power RankingsThe First Look and Course Preview.

Helpful Hints

 2012 Irish Open (entered this week)

  *previous Open Champion

**Top 10 since 2010

2  **Rafa Cabrera Bello

7  *Padraig Harrington

10 *Rory McIlroy

10 *Francesco Molinari

10 Paul Waring

16 **Graeme McDowell

18 **Thorbjorn Olesen

28 Romain Wattel

33 *Paul Lawrie

39 *Darren Clarke

44 Jorge Campillo

44 Emiliano Grillo

44 Richard Sterne

51 **Shane Lowry

65 **Robert Rock

65 Joost Luiten


Dylan Frittelli

**Andrew Johnston

Keegan Bradley

**Brendan Grace

Andrea Pavan

Tommy Fleetwood

Andy Sullivan

**Danny Willett

Chris Wood

Benjamin Herbert

Harry Diamond (McIlroy’s Caddie)

2019 Scottish Open Top 30

1  Bernd Wiesberger

2  Benjamin Hebert

3  Romain Langasque

4  **Andrew Johnston

4  Andrew Putnam

4  *Henrik Stenson

4  Andrea Pavon

4  Nino Bertasio

9  Justin Thomas

9  Rafa Cabrera Bello

14 **Ian Poulter

14 **Tyrrell Hatton

14 Matt Fitzpatrick

14 Matt Wallace

14 Erik Van Rooyen

20 Thomas Pieters

20 **Matt Kuchar

20 Adrian Otaegui

28 Andy Sullivan

28 Mike Lorenzo Vera

2019 Irish Open Top 30

1  Jon Rahm

2  Bernd Wiesberger

2  Andy Sullivan

4  **Rafa Cabrera Bello

4  **Eddie Pepperell

4  **Robert Rock 60

7  Jorge Campillo

7  Paul Waring

9  Zander Lombard

9  Mike Lorenzo Vera

15 Adri Arnaus

15 **Haotong Li

15 **Thorbjorn Olesen

19 Abraham Ancer

19 Oliver Wilson

23 Tommy Fleetwood

23 **Lee Westwood

27 Nino Bertasio

Key stat leaders

Golfers around the top 25 in each statistic on the 2018-19 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week. This is the 39th event of the season.

* – top 10 last five years

Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green

1  *Rory McIlroy

2  Justin Thomas

3  Hideki Matsuyama

4  Patrick Cantlay

5  *Dustin Johnson

6  *Adam Scott

7  Paul Casey

8  Gary Woodland

9  Byeong Hun An

10 Corey Conners

11 *Brooks Koepka

12 *Sergio Garcia

13 *Matt Kuchar

14 *Xander Schauffele

15 Jon Rahm

16 Tommy Fleetwood

17 Emiliano Grillo

18 Webb Simpson

19 Jason Kokrak

20 *Henrik Stenson

21 Kevin Streelman

22 Lucas Glover

23 *Justin Rose

24 *Jim Furyk

25 Joaquin Niemann


1  Patrick Cantlay

2  Webb Simpson

3  Lucas Glover

8  *Matt Kuchar

9  Tommy Fleetwood

10 *Jim Furyk

11 Sungjae Im

12 *Francesco Molinari

13 *Marc Leishman

16 Hideki Matsuyama

17 Ernie Els (2012 winner)

18 *Justin Rose

19 Jimmy Walker

25 Si Woo Kim

Putting: Birdie-or-Better Percentage

 1  Bryson DeChambeau

2  Gary Woodland

4  *Justin Rose

5  *Rory McIlroy

5  *Jordan Spieth

7  Si Woo Kim

7  Justin Thomas

9  Patrick Cantlay

10 Aaron Wise

12 Andrew Putnam

13 *Adam Scott

14 *Xander Schauffele

15 Jon Rahm

17 Hideki Matsuyama

18 Ryan Palmer

19 *Jason Day

23 *Marc Leishman

23 *Rafa Cabrera Bello

25 Adam Hadwin

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