The 147th Open Championship

July 19 – 22, 2018 • Carnoustie Golf Links • Carnoustie, Scotland


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The 147th Open Championship is set to begin this Thursday as it returns to the iconic Carnoustie Golf Links. The oldest and therefore arguably most prestigious of the major championships, this year’s Open is poised to once again be a test of skill, patience, wit, luck and perseverance.

As the best golfers from the world descend upon the game’s place of origin, so too will the eyes of fans across the globe. Whether in-person or through television, golf fans will again be transfixed on the Open Championship and the pursuit of the best trophy in golf: the Claret Jug.

To many though, the Open Championship means more than just another major. It is a chance to relish in the sport’s deep, traditional history. It’s a blend of the past and present. It is quite simply a golf purists dreams tournament. It is golf the way it should be played – with a demand for thoughtfulness in a player’s versatility in changing that approach alongside weather and a course that can change in the blink of an eye. And the required skill to put it all together on the world’s biggest stage.

Television Schedule

Thursday: Golf Channel, 1:30 am – 4 pm

Friday: Golf Channel, 1:30 am – 4 pm

Saturday: Golf Channel, 4:30 am – 7 am / NBC, 7 am – 3 pm

Sunday: Golf Channel, 4:30 am – 7 am / NBC, 7 am – 2:30 pm

This year’s Open will surely provide the excitement all of us are looking for. Carnoustie, Scotland has experienced a drought through the past month and the course is playing as difficult as it ever has. As the established, veteran tour players aim to add to their legacy, the young stars are hungry to cement their place in golfing history. Add to that the implications of this being a Ryder Cup year and it is hard to imagine a better test of golf paired with this many narratives.

And it all begins Thursday, July 19th!

Read on for our full preview of the 2018 Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Links.

History at The Open Championship

The oldest of the four major championships in golf, The Open was first played in 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club. During that inaugural tournament, Willie Parks Sr. bested Old Tom Morris by two strokes over the course of 36 holes.

Just a dozen years later, Young Tom Morris had notched his fourth consecutive tournament victory. It was after that fourth win in 1872 that the now famous Claret Jug was created. It was not until 1907 when French professional Arnaud Massy won that a player of non-Scottish descent won. 1922 marked the first American victory, as Walter Hagen won by one stroke at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in England.

Only 6 amateurs have ever won the Open Championship – all of which came between 1890-1930. 1930 marked the legendary Bobby Jones’ third Open victory and was a part of his 1930 Grand Slam.

As the game of golf grew and the ability for more top-tier professionals to compete, the European dominance began to wane. Today, America has the most British Open victories with 44, followed by Scotland with 41. England has 22 Open wins to date and South Africa represents the only other with double-digit wins at 10.

Since 2000, Americans have managed to win 10 of the 18 Open Championships. Tiger Woods contributed to three of those victories. As we get set for the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Links, individual and national bragging rights will be at stake for all of the competitors.

The Carnoustie Effect

Historical records show that golf had been played at Carnoustie dating back to the early 1500’s – nearly 400 years prior to the game being brought to North America. There are few spectacles in sports as steeped in history as Carnoustie Golf Links, making this remarkably difficult course all the better.

In 1867, Carnoustie was expanded from a 10-hole to 18-hole golf course. Old Tom Morris was the primary designed and oversaw the expansion.

Carnoustie would host its first British Open in 1931, won by Tommy Armour. Since its first appearance in the rota of Open Championship courses, Carnoustie has earned the nickname Carnasty for its unforgiving and incredible difficulty. That difficulty is made all the more challenging when the weather turns adverse, with wind and/or rain off of the coast the course is situated on.

The past three Open Championships played at Carnoustie Golf Links all required a playoff to determine the winner. The 1975 Open was won by Tom Watson and the 2007 Open by Padraig Harrington.

In between those two is perhaps the most famous of all Open championships in which Paul Lawrie won following the catastrophic collapse of Jean van de Velde in 1999. Van de Velde’s collapse, along with the weeklong collapse of the world’s best players, created a new term that has become commonplace:

Carnoustie Effect (noun): Term arising after the 1999 Open Golf Championship at Carnoustie, Scotland, when the world’s greatest players failed to play to theoretical par for the distance. Even the winner finished six strokes over par.

Complaints about the difficulty of the ancient Carnoustie course, which is played over every day by local residents, were loudest from the most fancied professionals. Their frustration inspired the phrase ‘Carnoustie effect’, meaning the degree of trauma experienced when what is undertaken in confident spirit flounders on unforeseen difficulties.

The phrase is not confined to golf, but can be applied to any undertaking which goes wrong when unsuspected difficulties are encountered. The term has been used of military operations which have gone awry after being started in expectation of easy victory, as well as money lost on stock markets when gains had been anticipated.

This week, Carnoustie is setup to play as tough as it ever has. Scotland has experienced a drought through the past month, and the course is as firm as any Open Championship course has ever played.

Some golfers have commented that the fairways may be running faster than the greens. During a practice round on Monday, Rickie Fowler managed to hit a drive mor than 480 yards. Tiger Woods also managed 330 yards off the tee with a 3-iron.

Control, especially with potential wind and strong gusts, will be key this week at Carnoustie. With the course playing so firm, distance will not be a major factor off of the tee. Instead, meticulously picking spots and hitting those spots will play the largest role in determining this year’s Open Champion.

When the wind is blowing, it is the toughest golf course in Britain. And when it’s not blowing, it’s probably still the toughest

Sir Michael Bonallack (President of British and International Golf Greenskeepers Association)

2018 Favorites

Dustin Johnson

He’s the best player in the world and in the prime of his career so it makes sense that he’s the Vegas favorite. Plus, as we saw at Shinnecock his low, piercing ball flight is perfect for contending at wind-swept links courses.

For most, length will not be a deciding factor. When it comes to Dustin Johnson, his length is in a class of its own and could allow him to find scoring opportunities that simply will not exist for others.

Justin Rose

He seemed to be a consensus favorite for the U.S. Open and looked to be en route to winning until a disastrous Sunday dropped him to T-10. Still, the World No. 3 rarely has an off week or weekend, and when he does, his scrambling and putting skills have allowed him to hang around the leader board.

Add to it that Rose grew up playing links style of golf and spent a good portion of his career on the European Tour, and his experience combined with world-class skill could be the perfect pedigree to claim this year’s Open Championship.

Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler is still searching for his first major victory and will again give it a go this week.

He finished T-20 at the U.S. Open despite shooting an 84 in one of the rounds. While an 84 certainly will not help any professional win a tournament, we have seen Fowler play well in both of this year’s first two majors. His Sunday charge at Augusta National showcased his potential and just how hot he can get with his irons and putter.

If he can get off to a quick start this week and build momentum into Sunday, Fowler could find himself hoisting a major championship trophy for the first time in his career.

Jordan Spieth

He’s the defending champ (albeit at a different course) and the slower green speeds at the Open allow him to putt more aggressively. As one of the best putters in the game, Spieth having the chance to be aggressive is dangerous.

That said, Spieth has struggled more the past couple months than at any point during his pro career. Since a solo third at the Masters, his best finish is a T-21 at the Byron Nelson, and he recently missed back-to-back cuts at the Memorial and U.S. Open.

A different kind of course across the pond might be just what Spieth needs to get his game back on track this season.

Patrick Reed

You may thought we were halfway to the ‘Reed Slam’ when the Masters champ birdied five of his first seven holes on Sunday at the US Open. Even though his rally came up a bit short, Reed has beaten all but four golfers in the past three majors.

While he may not be adored by many golf fans, his game is as good as anybody’s right now. A win at Carnoustie certainly wouldn’t be a surprise for Reed – and Vegas agrees with his odds at 30/1.

If nothing else, he’s American and we can all pull for an American win.

Tommy Fleetwood

During the final round at this year’s US Open, Fleetwood nearly stole the tournament with a 63 that was so good it left him disappointed he didn’t shoot lower. Imagine having that kind of game?

Fleetwood’s round has now put him on the map as a major favorite for this year’s Open Championship. The only part of his game that has yet to be tested is how he performs under the spotlight with high expectations. Time will tell, but don’t be shocked if Fleetwood is in the hunt down the stretch on Sunday.

Henrik Stenson

The last time the Open was played in Scotland, Stenson put forth one of the greatest performances in golf history and held of Phil Mickelson. It’s hard to think about the Open and not pick Stenson as a favorite.

While his ball-striking stats (2nd in strokes gained approach) are as good as ever, Stenson’s scrambling (151s in strokes gained around the green) could be the difference at a place where greens in regulation aren’t easy to find like Carnoustie. If he can build some rhythm with a few up and downs early on, Stenson could easily take the Claret Jug home for the second time.

Brooks Koepka

He’s the current World No. 4 and has bounced back from his early-season wrist injury in a big way.

Koepka just won a second consecutive U.S. Open on a course that’s as close to a Scottish links as America has to offer. Plus, he earned his stripes playing in Europe before becoming a PGA Tour star. While he only has 3 PGA Tour victories to date, Koepka has shown that he can perform when it matters most.

At 20/1, the suits in Vegas also like his chances this week at Carnoustie.

Sergio Garcia

With 10 top 10s, including two runner-ups, the Open Championship is the major that Sergio should have won first. It’s also the reason people continue to pick him to win year after year.

So far, he’s never come through. And one of those runner-ups — his most painful close call — came right here at Carnoustie in a playoff in 2007. Hopefully, Garcia doesn’t switch over to the Golf Channel between now and the conclusion of this year’s tournament.

After welcoming a child this Spring and taking some time off to be with his family, I don’t expect Sergio to make a charge this week. Then again, I have been wrong before.

Jason Day

The Australian has shown flashes this season that he’s ready to go on another run back to the top of the Official World Ranking with two wins (Torrey Pines, Quail Hollow) and a runner-up at Pebble Beach.

As we saw at Shinnecock, his high ball flight isn’t always conducive to windy conditions. Plus, Carnoustie is anything but a bomb-and-gouge track. Of course, being the best putter on the PGA Tour always helps.

Can Jason Day return to major champion form this week at Carnoustie? He has the mental game and the putting stroke, he will just need to control his ball flight and stay patient on this daunting test of golf.

Justin Thomas

He’s still just a few weeks removed from a stint at World No. 1, and he is still tied for the PGA Tour lead with two victories this season. JT’s poorest major stat is strokes gained around-the-green and he still gains strokes on the field in that category. So, he’s as solid as they come.

Thomas’ first two turns at the Open have resulted in a T-53 in 2016 and a missed cut last year despite opening with 67 on both occasions. It’s a small sample size, but as we’ve seen with golfers throughout the years, links golf is an acquired skill if you didn’t grow up playing it.

Betting against Thomas, one of the world’s most prolific scorers in golf, is never a good idea.

Tiger Woods

A man with a self-professed love of links golf, Woods finished a solid T-7 (At +10 in 1999!) and T-12 in his two Opens at Carnoustie. And he has had arguably his two best chances of snapping that major championship drought in this tournament in 2012 and 2013. That being said, his major championship drought is now officially more than a decade. And a missed cut at Shinnecock Hills showed there are plenty of holes in his golf game right now.

Tiger Woods has won 3 Open Championships to date. A win here would push his majors total to 15 and make him the undisputed best Open Champion of the modern era.

If there was ever a tournament to finalize his comeback, this is the one.

Rory McIlroy

We all know what he’s capable of, and he’s snapped out of “slumps” at the Open before. In 2014 he won at Liverpool and then won the WGC-Bridgestone and PGA Championship his next two starts for good measure.

As the season has gone on, McIlroy’s stats have normalized. That’s good news off the tee (10th in strokes gained), but bad news on the greens (110th in strokes gained). To overcome that poor putting, he’ll need to be particularly on with the big dog if he’s to contend at Carnoustie.

It’s hard to count on McIlroy having his A-game. But as soon as you dismiss him, he pulls off a performance like this year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational and reminds us all just how good he can be.

Jon Rahm

Yes, Rahm may have some occasional temperament issues. But earlier this year at Augusta he cracked his first major-championship top five and recorded another Tour win.

The U.S. Open may always be a poor fit, but he’s a threat in any of the others. Why not now? Plus, a European has to win one of these last two majors before the Ryder Cup, don’t you think? Jon Rahm is young and has yet to record a monumental win – this could very well be his first of many.

Dark Horse Picks

Phil Mickelson

It’s been an up and down season for Phil. He ended his winless streak at the WGC-Mexico by holding off Justin Thomas. He also took a penalty for putting a moving ball at the US Open.

Heading into this year’s Open, it’s easy to make a case for Mickelson. He came up just a bit short in recent history when he found himself on the wrong side of Stenson’s remarkable performance. If he can keep it in play, avoid big numbers and allow the ball to come to a complete stop, he might just add another major title to his list of achievements.

Jim Furyk

It will take a talented tactician to tame Carnoustie, and nobody owns a better skill/strategy combination than Furyk. He plays his best golf in the warm-weather months and has shown solid form this season.

He’s finished 4th on 4 separate occasions at The Open. As the Ryder Cup Captain for team USA this year, Furyk may be the first to ever win an Open Championship as a Ryder Cup captain.

Padraig Harrington

Padraig Harrington last won the Open when it was played at Carnoustie in 2007. As he returns to the world-famous ‘Carnasty’ to defend that title, many are considering him a favorite long-shot pick.

“I’m quite familiar with Carnoustie. I’ve been back every year at the Dunhill Championship. It’s not quite the same as Birkdale last year. It’s interesting, obviously, the golf course. For all intents and purposes, it’s a completely different course than the one in 2007 on that front. But it’s always nice to be back in a place you’ve played well.”

Bernhard Langer

He may be 60-years old, but Langer still has plenty of game. He has won 10 major championships on the senior tour and could find himself in the mix this week.

Averaging 280+ yards off the tee this season, Langer will benefit from the firmness of Carnoustie. If he gets some favorable conditions during his rounds and finds a way to make the most of chances, Langer should find some success.

He’s the reigning Senior British Open champion and has won three renewals this decade, so the firm and fast nature of Carnoustie will hold no fears. It’s perfectly possible that he bounces back and posts a number here.