The British Open Golf Championship Preview and Top Tips

Early on Thursday morning, the 2011 British Open Champion, Darren Clarke will hit the opening tee shot to get the 148th British Open Championship underway at Royal Portrush Gold Club in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. This will be the first time the course has hosted the tournament since 1951, when an English golfer by the name of Max Faulkner emerged as the winner.

Plenty of home fans will be cheering on the veteran Clarke, but it is unlikely that the likeable Ulsterman will be in real contention on the final day. Instead, his younger compatriot Rory McIlroy is likely to be the homegrown star with most chance to lift the Claret Jug for the second time, following on from his victory at Royal Liverpool back in 2014. However, McIlroy will face a stern test from a stellar field, featuring top golfers from all around the globe.

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Let’s now preview the event, beginning with a look at some of the records and facts and figures from the British Open.

British Open Records

  • First British Open – 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club, won by Willie Park Snr.
  • First time Claret Jug competed for – 1872 (prior to that, the prize was a £25 belt)
  • Which Course Has Hosted the Most British Opens – St Andrews Old Course with 29
  • Oldest Winner – Old Tom Morris (46 years, 102 days) in 1867
  • Youngest Winner – Young Tom Morris (17 years, 156 days) in 1868
  • Most Open Victories – Harry Vardon – 6 – (1896, 1898, 1899, 1903, 1911, 1914)
  • Most Consecutive Victories – 4 – Young Tom Morris (1868, 1869, 1870, 1872) There was no Open Championship contested in 1871.
  • Lowest Open Championship Winning Score – 264 (-20) – Henrik Stenson (Sweden) in 2016
  • Lowest Open Championship Round – 62 – Branden Grace (South Africa) in 2017
  • Largest Prize Fund – $10.75 million (in 2019)

2019 British Open Course Details

  • Venue – Royal Portrush – Dunluce Course
  • Par – 71
  • Yardage – 7344 Yards
  • Current Course Record – 65 (Caolan Rafferty)
  • Previous Course Record – 61 (Rory McIlroy) – Former layout
  • Prize Fund – $10,750,000
  • Winners Cheque – $1,935,000

Course Holes and Yardage

  1. Hughies – 421 yards (par 4)
  2. Giant’s Grave – 574 yards (par 5)
  3. Islay – 177 yards (par 3)
  4. Fred Daly’s – 482 yards (par 4)
  5. White Rocks – 374 yards (par 4)
  6. Harry Colt’s – 194 yards (par 3)
  7. Curran Point – 592 yards (par 5)
  8. Dunluce – 434 yards (par 4)
  9. Tavern – 432 yards (par 4)
  10. Himalayas – 447 yards (par 4)
  11. G.Stevenson’s – 474 yards (par 4)
  12. Dhu Varren – 532 yards (par 5)
  13. Feather Bed – 194 yards (par 3)
  14. Causeway – 473 yards (par 4)
  15. Skerries – 426 yards (par 4)
  16. Calamity Corner – 236 yards (par 3)
  17. Purgatory – 408 yards (par 4)
  18. Babington’s – 474 yards (par 4)

One of the foremost courses in the British Isles and indeed the world, Royal Portrush is one of Irish gold’s true gems. Blessed with some lovely touches of humour in the names of some of the holes, with Himalayas, Calamity Corner and Purgatory my personal favourites, this course is consistently ranked as one of the best in the world.

As with all links courses, it plays toughest when the weather turns greyer, overcast and the wind picks up and then it can be a massive test, however in calmer, fairer weather, it does offer a real chance for low scoring, which means that course record 65 could be under threat if the weather does turn out to be somewhat benign.

The course hasn’t been extensively used for top player tournaments before, but did host the Irish Open a few years back and Rory McIlroy was the winner. More recently it has also held the Amateur and Boys Amateur Championships.

Current Major Winners & Defending & Former Open Champions

  • The Masters – Tiger Woods (US)
  • The USPGA – Brooks Koepka (US)
  • US Open – Gary Woodland (US)

United States players have enjoyed great success winning all three Majors this year on home soil. Italian Francesco Molinari is the current Open Champion and if he successfully defends the title he will be the first player since Padraig Harrington in 2007 and 2008 to win back-to-back Open tournaments.

There will also be 15 former winners of the British Open competing in this year’s event including 1996 winner. Tom Lehmann and 1999 winner Paul Lawrie.

Who will win the British Open this week?

American players have dominated the Majors this season and in the past few years we have seen a pattern of a European/Rest of the World player winning one year, followed by an American winner the next. If that pattern holds true again this year, then it will be an American golfer celebrating the win on Sunday.

The U.S. is well represented with almost 50 golfers in the field and of their crop of talented stars the likes of Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka are most likely to be their leading lights. However, at 100/1, I think Phil Mickelson is a decent each way bet given how much he has improved his game on links courses over the years.

Other challengers are likely to be the favourite Rory McIlroy who is a 9/1 shot, plus Justin Rose (18/1) who does seem poised to land another major at some point soon. I’d also rank Tommy Fleetwood (30/1) and Paul Casey (55/1) as decent bets in this tournament too.

However if I am going to back anybody then it is going to be Spaniard Jon Rahm who has been playing superb golf and who at 16/1 is a great value bet.

*All odds shown are correct with bet365 at the time of writing (1pm on Tuesday 17th July)