Some players are reaching their peak ahead of the tough contest expected at Royal Portrush in the 148th Open Championship whereas some pros look far from their best which will certainly be required in order to be crowned ‘Championship Golfer of the Year.’ Here’s the lowdown on ‘who’s hot’ and who’s not…
USA’s 2018 Ryder Cup Captain has rolled back the years in 2019 with a string of great performances which has seen him rise to 46th in the Official World Golf Ranking, having ended 2018 ranked 223rd. The 2003 U.S. Open winner came close to ending a three year drought for a win at the prestigious Players Championship where he finished runner-up, one shot behind Rory McIlroy. Furyk has also added a further five top 20 finishes on the PGA Tour since the start of the year and will be targeting a solid return to the oldest of the Majors after failing to make Carnoustie last year.
The Englishman is flying high in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai Rankings after another solid start to the year where he has come alive in the big events. The four-time European Tour winner was second to Bryson DeChambeau at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic before adding a second runner-up finish at the Betfred British Masters. But it’s the Majors where Wallace has put pivotal Race to Dubai points on the board with a tied third finish at the PGA Championship and tied 12th at the U.S. Open. Expect another big week for the 29 year old in Northern Ireland.
Arguably having one of his best seasons despite not getting into contention in the last three Majors. That being said, the Northern Irishman finished in the top ten in both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship to add to his two win stateside at the Players Championship and the RBC Canadian Open, where two bogeys in his last three holes destroyed his chances of carding a sacred 59. McIlroy knows Royal Portrush as well as anyone and will be aiming to emulate the form that saw him post a sublime course record 61 there in 2005 at the North of Ireland Championship.
The Pete Cowen coached big-hitting American is enjoying one of his finest seasons to date with a sublime victory at last month’s U.S. Open, propelling him up to 12th in the OWGR – his highest ranked position in his career. Along with his maiden Major victory, the 35 year old has four more top tens to his name in 2019, including a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and a tied eighth at the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. At Royal Portrush Woodland will be teeing it up at The Open Championship for the eighth time, with his best tournament finish coming at Royal Troon in 2016 where he finished tied 12th.
The World Number One and the hottest prospect in golf right now, Koepka has been a force to be reckoned with in the Majors after winning four of the last nine, including the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship back-to-back. In the three Majors already played in 2019 he boasts an sensational record of one victory and two runner-up finishes and once again he’ll be the man to beat at Royal Portrush. This will be Koepka’s sixth Open Championship, with his best result coming at Royal Birkdale in 2016 where he finished tied sixth.
Last year’s Masters Tournament champion has failed to reached the heights of 2018 which saw him finish runner-up in the Race to Dubai with only one top ten finish this calendar year. The lack of form has led to frustration on the course with a video of Reed snapping his lob wedge over his knee after a fluffed chip shot at Pebble Beach going viral. The unforgiving links of Royal Portrush can be extremely harsh when out of form and Reed will have his work cut out in the tournament which has seen him miss the cut twice in his five appearances.
The 2018 Ryder Cup rookie made a slow start to 2019 but ended a five-month wait for a top-20 finish on the European Tour with a 10th place finish at the BMW International Open in June and played solidly at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open en route to a 15th place finish with all four rounds under par. He’ll be making his eighth appearance in the tournament and will be hoping to build on his tied 12th finish at Carnoustie last year.
Thailand’s No.1 has been focusing on the PGA Tour this season but has missed the cut in seven out of 15 events in 2019. This dip in form has seen him slip down to 51st in the OWGR. . Rewind a year and the Asian superstar had a European Tour title to his name at the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth along with top fives at two WGC events and the BMW PGA Championship. The 29 year old has made the cut in only one of his five Open Championship appearances, when he finished 75th last year.
The Swede has failed to replicate his outstanding form of last season that saw him automatically qualify for the 2018 European Ryder Cup team. Noren has missed the cut in four of his 13 events played in 2019 and has finished in the top 20 on just one occasion, at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play. He’ll be making his 11th appearance at The Open Championship with a sixth place finish at Royal Birkdale in 2016 his highest position.