2019 Open Championship Preview

By Troy Klongerbo
July 15, 2019

2019 Open Championship Preview: Winners, Sleeper, Staff Picks, ICYMI and More!

It’s been 68 years, but we’re back at Royal Portrush. And the Open Championship is back in Northern Ireland. 

A nation’s thirst for golf’s stage will be a thrill to watch the 148th playing of the world’s oldest golf tournament. I’ve watched videos and highlights from Royal Portrush and it looks aesthetically stunning. 

I am really excited to see how it looks on TV this week. 

Also, the narratives this week are powerful — Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy at home, a historic return to Ireland, an Open Championship away from the main island, and many of the world’s top stars coming in with great form.  

This is the biggest sporting event in the history of the country. It’s sold out and tickets are not currently available. 

This will be a blast. 

The Course 

Along with most of the golf world, I’m fascinated by this golf course.  

Obviously (or maybe it’s not that obvious), I’ve never played Royal Portrush. It looks like we’ll be playing Royal Portrush as a par-71 this week (from it’s typical par-72) and should be around 7,300 yards. 

In terms of scoring and expectations, it’s going to be very hard to make predictions for how this course will play. Portrush has not hosted a large number of professional golf tournaments over its history and has gone over many renovations to prepare for hosting the 2019 Open. Sample sizes are not readily available. 

The variable this week will be weather — oh, that UK weather…

If the forecasts call for lower winds, I feel the top players will litter the leaderboard, but the weather is the wrench. If the weather turns, the wind blows, and Mother Nature screams, it brings many more golfers into the field. This preview is based on the assumption of decent weather. 

An encouraging note about course record, if we know anything about the R&A, they don’t care about par. They don’t mind if the course yields birdies. It should be a great setup and I’m eager to see how it plays. 

The Odds

Here are the odds coming into the 2019 Open Championship, as of 7/15 (via CBS Sports):

Rory McIlroy 8-1
Brooks Koepka 10-1
Dustin Johnson 12-1
Tiger Woods 16-1
Jon Rahm 16-1
Justin Rose 20-1
Francesco Molinari 20-1
Xander Schauffele 20-1
Patrick Cantlay 25-1
Tommy Fleetwood 25-1
Rickie Fowler 25-1
Jason Day 30-1
Adam Scott 30-1
Louis Oosthuizen 30-1
Justin Thomas 40-1
Hideki Matsuyama 40-1
Matt Kuchar 40-1
Bryson DeChambeau 40-1
Paul Casey 50-1
Henrik Stenson 50-1
Graeme McDowell 50-1
Marc Leishman 50-1
Matt Wallace 50-1

The Horses For the Open Championship

Rory McIlroy: 

I pick him a lot. 

Often times, selecting Rory means feeling very confident heading into the week before watching a few holes derail his chances of claiming major championship number 5. His last major came in 2014. 

He’s the odds on favorite to win this week. 

Reasons to be optimistic about Rory’s game at Royal Portrush:

  1. Four straight top-5 finishes in the Open Championship.
    1. He won in 2014.
    2. DNP in 2015.
    3. T5 in 2016.
    4. T4 in 2017. 
    5. T2 last year. 
  2. His historic win at the Canadian Open a few weeks back.
  3. His driver is leading the tour by a convincing margin (+1.24 Strokes Gained off the Tee), an advantage at Royal Portrush. 
  4. Great vibes at the course (61 as a 16-year old). 

Here’s my concern with Rory this week: He’s playing at home. 

We’ve seen this in golf. Playing home games can mount extra pressure, making it that much harder to get the job done. There are more distractions, more noise, and the pressure mounts. 

We’ll see if Rory is able to overcome this.

I do expect good play from Rory this week. 

Jason Day

He’s been away from the game’s spotlight for a few years, slipping from 1st in the world to 18th, but I think the pressure release will play into a resurgence here in coming years. 

If he’s aggressive off the tee and is able to get into a rhythm with his driver, he’ll be in great position all week in Portrush’s narrow fairways. His driver is typically a strength of his game, so it’s likely that it could happen this week. 

He’s a top-15 birdie man on Tour (averaging 4.27 per round) and having a propensity to make birdies at Royal Portrush will pay dividends (with calm weather, I expect a score around 13, 14-under).  

Stevie Williams is a reliable newfound resource on his bag and I’m optimistic Day will be able to play well this week. 

Henrik Stenson

A veteran with an outstanding links resume. Pair that with a great track record in the Open and his low ball flight that lends itself to accuracy. So much adds up for Stenson at Open Championships. 

His game has dipped in recent years, which allows him to be purchased at a bit of a bargain. 

He’s 50:1 odds this week, same as the likes of Paul Casey, Graeme McDowell, Marc Leishman, and Matt Wallace, of which I think Stenson is clearly the strongest play of that bunch. 

This is a buy low proposition with a player who has a really strong likelihood of notching a top-10 this week. 

Adam Scott 

His game has come back (at least the ball striking) and I still think he’s trying to overcome his 2012 Open Championship collapse at the hands of fairway bunkers and Ernie Els. 

With Adam, the narrative has been the same for the past few seasons. If he purrs well, he will contend. 

So how has the putting been going for Adam? We, he put on some historic streaky-ness at Bethpage (we’re going streaking!) followed by some dismal putting. 

But since 2009, only two players have more top-10s in majors than Scott and barring a collapse on the greens, he’ll be around this weekend. 


Ryan Fox

I’m going with a sleeper that I know very little about in terms of his personality and record, but one that jumped out when looking at statistics and doing research leading into the event— New Zealand’s Ryan Fox. 

A caveat to start: the last player outside the world’s top-50 to win a major was in 2011. Fox is currently ranked 102 in the world. Winning, I feel, is probably out of the question for Mr. Fox. 

But he could be a name that pops onto the leaderboard early and has people thinking, wait, who? 

Fox murders the golf ball off the tee, ranking 4th on the European Tour in driving distance (315.3 yards per) and has the ability to take advantage of a golf course. 

He’s also been successful Ireland before, nearly snagging victory at the 2018 Irish Open. 

He may be a guy I do a deep dive on and take a flier if the stars align. 

2019 Open Championship WINNER

Jon Rahm 

He’s probably going to be one of the most popular picks in the entire field this year. Ownership percentages will be high. 

Not only is Rahm a phenomenal driver of the golf ball (4th in strokes gained off the tee), or is he a fantastic links player (track record in France and Ireland), but he also comes into the event off an impressive win in the Irish Open where he finished with a round of 62. 

It was his second career win in Ireland and the win bumped him back inside the world’s top-10. 

At Pebble Beach, Rahm finished in a T3 for his 4th top-10 in majors in the past two years. 

When a guy has a track record like that in the country and his recent form is polished, you know confidence will be high. 

He has been knocking at the door of a major championship for some time now and something just feels right about the 24-year old this week. 

This may be the first time I’ve picked Jon Rahm to win a major championship outright (someone, fact check?). 

Your 2019 Open Championship winner, folks!

USGolfTV Staff Picks: 2019 Open Championship

Todd Kolb:  Rickie Fowler“It is time for Rickie (25-1) to finally put a major championship to his resume. He has been knocking at the doorstep for some time now and he is due. The British Open is the one major where the weather can play a huge role in the results; yes there is some luck involved in this one. Rickie is due for some luck!”

Nick Anson:  Henrik Stenson“Henrik is an absolute steal at 50-1, and he has the game to contend at a course like Royal Portrush.  He may have dipped in recent years, but I’m not seeing anyone in the field who looks to dominate coming into the Open Championship.  Watch him bang 3 woods and hit fairways all weekend as he captures his second Claret Jug!”

Sam Vosler:  Patrick Cantlay  – “At 25-1 odds, Cantlay is not as big of a sleeper as you’d think to take home the Claret Jug next weekend. He’s been on the radar over the last year and I think it’s his time at Royal Portrush. Pat has all shots in the bag needed to withstand the field. He has proven when he catches a heater he is as dangerous as anybody. Look for the putter to be fire all four days!” 

Tyler Prins:  Dustin Johnson“Dustin Johnson is at 12-1 for a reason.  This guy is a machine and has won an Open Championship format not so long ago.  The way that he handles his emotions is something that I think is very important with all the weather delays, wind, and very different situations that seems to generally play out at the Open Championship.”

Jordan Knowlton: Tiger Woods – “I mean, why not?  He is rested and ready to go for another great story. This is probably more of a “wishful thinking” pick, but I like to keep the dream alive!”

In Case You Missed It: News, Tips, Happenings, and More from the World of Golf

The purse at the Women’s British Open just got a big boost due to what the R&A is calling “an important first step” toward gender parity. (Golf.com)

Tiger has been waking up at 1 a.m. to prep for the time difference in Royal Portrush. That sounds miserable, but it’s also pretty inspiring. (Golf Channel)

The LPGA announced a fourth Florida tournament has been added to the 2020 season—the Pelican Women’s Championship in Belleair. (Golf Channel)

And who’s going to take Daly’s spot at Royal Portrush? Kevin Streelman, according to this hilariously casual invite. (@Streels54) 

“You refer to him as ‘Mr. Hogan.’” Do you feel personally victimized by this list of signs you may be taking golf too seriously? (Golf.com)

If your heart was broken by yet another Masters ticket lottery denial this year, you’re not alone. (Golf.com)

Randall Mell has some thoughts on how Matt Wolff’s unusual swing is re-energizing the game of golf. (Golf Channel)

Sam Snead is top-of-mind again as Tiger Woods closes in on the legend’s record of 82 PGA Tour wins. Golf Digest has this entertaining, firsthand reflection on Snead’s character, game, and legacy. (Golfworld)

In a loss for golf, Wimbleton’s All England Tennis Club will be expanding over the golf course next door. (Golf.com)

A big congratulations to Brooks Koepka and Brooke Henderson for their EPSY award wins! (Golf Channel)

Tournament News

Viewers who can’t get enough of Wolff’s unique swing probably had a great time watching Ho Sung Choi at the John Deere Classic this week. (PGA Tour)

Lexi Thompson shot an impressive 20-under at the Marathon Classic, but it still wasn’t enough to beat Sei Young Kim. (Golfworld)

Looks like Dylan Frittelli is going to Royal Portrush next week thanks to his John Deere Classic win. (Golf Channel)

Also headed to The Open Championship: Andrew “Beef” Johnston. (Golf Digest)

This Week in Golf Tips

Finally break 100 with these 5 easy tips (VIDEO). (USGolfTV)

Are you looking at the wrong part of the golf ball? Did you even know that was a thing? Here are some fascinating tips for fixing problem shots by shifting your focus. (Golf.com)

Getting a consistent low point with your irons is easier said than done. This video helps. (USGolfTV)

Stop overthinking your putts and keep it simple with these 4 simple techniques to improve your time on the green. (USGolfTV)

Is limited mobility hindering your golf swing? Here are some tips for getting back the distance you’ve lost (VIDEO). (USGolfTV)

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