The Open 2015: A pin-sticker’s guide to the possible winnerJuly, 2015 News & Tour
It's the most open Open in recent memory. So who is going to win it?
The Grand Slam hunter
Quite simply the best player in the world currently, with due respect to Rory McIlroy, and he is proving it here. Some thought he would struggle to adapt to these conditions having played in America last week. Not so.
Seems to win every week at the moment so not exactly likely to be daunted by the prospect of a Claret Jug.
Surely due to cross the line. Will it be here in St Andrews? When he is fit and healthy he seems to contend in every Major. He already has eight top-10s to his name in just 19 appearances. He has never played well at the Open before but it was only ever a matter of time before he put that right.
And then there is the halfway leader Dustin Johnson, who keeps finding new and original ways to fail to win Major titles…
* Best player in the world never to have won a Major
The young home hopes
Paul Dunne, Danny Willett, Eddie Pepperell
The names we should all have had on our each-way betting slips, hindsight kindly informs us. Let’s be honest, no one was thinking about Irish amateur Dunne beyond his home club of Greystones, in County Wicklow.
Pepperell recently made a play-off for the Irish Open at Royal County Down, which was won by Soren Kjeldsen. Willett is a growing force, now apparently clear of the back injury that has slowed his progress.
The past champions
Paul Lawrie, Padraig Harrington, Louis Oosthuizen
With four Opens to their name, Lawrie (Carnoustie 1999), Harrington (Carnoustie 2007, Birkdale 2008) and Oosthuizen (St Andrews 2010) certainly know how to get the job done. The latter almost won the US Open last month but neither of the home nations players were expected to challenge here although Harrington did win the Honda Classic on the PGA Tour in February.
Lawrie stalled and then faded yesterday while Harrington burst through the field with his 65.
Oosthuizen has worn the look of a man who quietly fancies his chances all week. He is right where he wants to be – although he does not have the eight-shot cushion he enjoyed heading into the last day in 2010.
"When Jason Day is fit and healthy he seems to contend in every Major."
The past Major winners
Retief Goosen, Charl Schwartzel, Justin Rose
The two South Africans, and an Englishman born in Johannesburg, know exactly what they are doing and all have strong records at St Andrews. Goosen had to come through qualifying while Schwartzel looks a million dollars when he is going well. Rose is a thoroughbred these days, and will surely add to the US Open title he won at Merion in 2013. Putting, you might think, is the potential weakness for all three men.
The serial Open contenders
Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia
It’s amazing to think that neither has yet won an Open because they seem to be in the hunt just about every year. Scott has not finished outside the top six since 2011 while Garcia has twice been second. Both have steadily assumed their traditional positions. Have they got a low final round in them to finish the job off?
None of the above
With 26 players within five shots of the lead, it really is anyone of them’s Open Championship to win. Could there be a chance for one of the -7s or -8s to post a target the leaders are unable to match as the weather closes in?