The 151st Open Championship heads to the North West of England for the final men’s major of the year. The Royal Liverpool Golf Club is referred to as Hoylake due to its location, which is situated 10 miles from the city of Liverpool. This will be the 13th time that Royal Liverpool has hosted the championship, with the most recent occasion taking place in 2014.
The 2023 Open Championship: Things to consider
Since 2000, 73% of The Open winners have managed to record at least one win earlier in the calendar year. A player’s form in the previous year isn’t that important, with half of the last 13 victors missing the cut the year before they lifted the Claret Jug. Every champion since Darren Clarke in 2011 has been inside the top 40 in the world, while the average ranking of the last nine victors has been around 12th.
Weather is always key at the Open Championship due to the coastal location. Forecasts are for showers and mild weather in the run up to and duration of the event. Therefore, the course will not be as firm and bouncy as the R&A Committee may have hoped. If 2014 winner Rory McIlroy is on his game, then the damp conditions will likely suit him.
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The 2023 Open Championship: The favourites
I keep picking Scheffler [+967] 10.670, and he keeps contending but never quite winning – however, he hasn’t finished outside of the top 12 all year (out of 15 tournaments). He hasn’t finished outside of the top five in strokes gained tee to green in his last 10 events, which leads me to say once again: “If the putter behaves half decent, he will win.” The Texan is 133rd in strokes gained putting this season - imagine having a stroke average of 68 and losing shots to the field on the greens! The world number one has had three top 10 finishes in a row in this year’s majors, and having picked him to win all of those, I can’t just back down now.
Scheffler hasn’t finished outside of the top 12 all year.
It is easy to forget that Jon Rahm has already won a major this year, with everything that has happened in the golfing world since he received the Green Jacket at Augusta National. There have been questions surrounding his putting like Scheffler, but this season, Rahm [+1237] 13.370 is 23rd in strokes gained putting and hasn’t missed a putt from three feet.
Cam Smith [+1719] 18.190 is in fine form on both the LIV Golf Tour and in the majors. He was victorious at LIV London last week, holding off his fellow Australian Marc Leishman, and Smith’s major record this year has seen him secure consecutive top 10 finishes. His driving distance is lacking compared to the field, but Tiger Woods won around Hoylake after not hitting a driver, so that statistic clearly isn’t all that important.
The last champion to defend the Claret Jug was Pádraig Harrington. With the form Smith is in, I think this is a realistic option.
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The 2023 Open Championship: Ones to Watch
Hailing from the North West of England himself, this is The Open venue that Fleetwood has described as “the one.” He has been in the UK these past few weeks playing plenty of links golf – in fact, I played behind him at Royal Birkdale and he was flushing it. This season, his form has been fantastic, with three top five finishes in his last six events, including fifth place at the US Open thanks to a wonderful final round of 63. The 32-year-old came in fourth at The 150th Open Championship last year, and his driving and putting stats seem to be back on track after a drop off earlier in the season.
The Australian had a heartbreaking run of four bogies in a row to finish his final round of the 2012 Open Championship, which he ultimately lost. His record in the event suggests that, even at the age of 42, he still has a chance - Scott came in fifth at Hoylake in 2014, and has had a flurry of top 10 finishes at this event. His form is good, with three top 10 finishes in his last six PGA Tour outings. His putting from 10-15 feet is ranked third, he is 10th in par 4 scoring, and is making 4.3 birdies per round. With the weather looking fair and wind speeds predicted to be low, these skills are definitely going to be useful.
The tournament outsiders
Min Woo Lee
The young star is a links specialist and former Scottish Open Champion.
Lee's game could suit windy conditions.
The 24-year-old is from Perth, Australia, and loves playing in windy conditions. He is currently 47th in the world and is performing well coming into the event, as evidenced by a T5 finish at the US Open, and T9 place at the Travelers Championship. Lee [+6682] 67.820 has been in Europe lately as well, with a T15 finish at the Belfry earlier this month, and he is also enjoying The Ashes.
The younger brother of two-time LPGA major champion Minjee Lee will be desperate to capture a major title just like his sister.
The Englishman shot -10 in the Final Qualifying for Royal Liverpool, beating Sergio García to secure his place at his home course. Matthew [+19245] 193.450 has a stellar amateur record, winning the Lytham Trophy and St. Andrews Links, both of which should demonstrate his skill on links courses. The European Tour player has been playing consistently recently, making five cuts in a row, including a top 10 finish in the Scandi Mixed, and 17th last week in Denmark.
I hope this has helped with your picks for The 151st Open Championship. The excitement levels in the UK are through the roof, so if you are watching from home or on the course itself, I hope you enjoy it. Don’t forget, you can make your plays with Pinnacle’s unrivalled odds.
All facts were correct at time of writing. Written before the start of the Genesis Scottish Open.