By Dan Rapaport
It might feel like the Masters just passed, but come Sunday afternoon, we’ll be facing a nine-month wilderness without men’s major championship golf. As if this being the 150th edition of the oldest golf tournament in the world, at the sport’s birthplace, wasn’t enough to make you savour this week …
To get you ready for the Open Championship, we’ve ranked the top 100 players teeing it at the Old Course.
*World Ranking numbers are prior to the Genesis Scottish Open
100: Phil Mickelson
Age: 52 World Ranking: 89 Open appearances: 27
Best Open finish: Win, 2013
Drama aside, Mickleson’s golf has just been very poor for a very long time — ever since that shocking victory at Kiawah, really. He doesn’t have a single top-10 anywhere since then and has shot a combined 20-over par in his first two LIV Golf starts. If you include the US Open, he is a combined 33-over over his last 144 competitive holes. Interestingly, he hasn’t made a cut at the Open since 2018 and does not flight the ball down well at all. As you can probably tell, we’re not bullish on his chances. He’ll be a big favorite to miss the cut.
99: Garrick Higgo
Age: 23 World Ranking: 127 Open appearances: 1
Best Open finish: MC, 2021
His strong play through 2020 and 2021, including three wins on the DP World Tour and one on the PGA Tour, had this South African in the Presidents Cup picture but it’s been a nightmare since. He had missed the cut in eight of his last nine starts heading into the Scottish Open, and he has missed the cut in each of his last four major starts.
98: Dean Burmester
Age: 33 World Ranking: 92 Open appearances: 1
Best Open finish: T-40, 2021
He has four top-five finishes since November 2021, but all have come on the continent of Africa. Some were DP World Tour events, and some weren’t, but Africa was the one constant. Missed the weekend in four of his last five starts heading into the Scottish Open.
97: Kazuki Higa
Age: 27 World Ranking: 73 Open appearances: First
Japanese player has three wins on his home circuit since August 2021 and gets his first shot at major championship golf. Tied for 10th at the BMW International Open on the DP World Tour last month and also made the cut at the following week’s Irish Open. This will be the biggest stage he’s ever played on by a comical margin.
96: Padraig Harrington
Age: 50 World Ranking: 194 Open appearances: 24
Best Open finish: Win, 2007 and 2008
Now that he’s got that pesky Ryder Cup captaincy out of the way, Paddy’s been able to return to what Paddy does: practise and play a ton of golf. He was ecstatic to win the US Senior Open a few weeks back, his first USGA title, and took a respectable T-30 at the following week’s Irish Open. Missed the cut in eight of his last 10 majors but, lest we forget, the man tied for fourth at the 2021 PGA. The Old Course also gives older guys a chance.
95: Takumi Kanaya
Age: 24 World Ranking: 94 Open appearances: 2
Best Open finish: MC, 2021
Former World No. 1 amateur is inside the top 100 in the World Ranking thanks to some good finishes in his native Japan and a T-9 in the WGC-Dell Match Play, but it’s fair to say the first few years of his professional career have been a slight disappointment. Missed the cut in his last six major starts.
94: Francesco Molinari
Age: 39 World Ranking: 179 Open appearances: 13
Best Open finish: Win, 2018
Re-watch his quasi-robotic performance in the 2018 Open, alongside Tiger Woods on Sunday, and it’s hard to fathom his slow but steady slide toward irrelevance. It’s not that he’s missing the cut every week — he’s actually made it eight of 12 times in 2022 — there just never seem to be any properly high finishes to get excited about.
93: Dylan Frittelli
Age: 32 World Ranking: 149 Open appearances: 4
Best Open finish: 5, 2021
South African equalled his best finish in a major with a solo fifth at Royal St George’s last year, which guaranteed him a spot in the 150th Open at St Andrews. Has made the weekend in 11 of his last 12 starts but has just one top-10 on the wraparound season, which is how he’s outside the top 100 in the FedEx Cup despite all those checks.
92: Chan Kim
Age: 32 World Ranking: 113 Open appearances: 3
Best Open finish: T-11, 2017
His name pops up frequently at majors. He’s got into a bunch on his World Ranking, which might be slightly elevated by his success on the Japan Tour, and he’s qualified for a few US Open the hard way. The American abroad has shown glimpses of hanging with elite fields — a T-11 at Birkdale in 2017 and a T-23 at Kiawah in 2021 — but his game’s not in the best shape at the minute.
91: John Catlin
Age: 31 World Ranking: 186 Open appearances: 1
Best Open finish: MC, 2021
California native and New Mexico graduate has been playing in Europe for the better part of a decade. Won three times on the DP World Tour between September 2020 and April 2021, but all came against weak fields, and the highest he ever climbed was No. 76 in the world. Has finished in the top 25 in four of his last starts in Europe, including a T-4 against a relatively strong field at the Irish Open.
90: Marcus Armitage
Age: 34 World Ranking: 199 Open Championship appearances: 2
Best Open Championship finish: T-53, 2021
Known as the Bullet, he’s as jolly as they come and a fan favourite on the DP World Tour. Won his first and only title on the last summer to get into the field at Royal St George’s and successfully got through final qualifying this year to get a time at St Andrews. Missed the cut just twice in 13 DPWT starts in 2022.
89: Wyndham Clark
Age: 28 World Ranking: 239 Open appearances: First
We’re somewhat bullish on his chances to at least make the cut given how long he drives it. The Coloradan is third on tour in driving distance and, if the wind stays calm, he has the firepower to drive multiple par-4 greens at the Old Course. Earned a spot in this most special Open with a T-7 at the RBC Canadian Open in June.
88: Emiliano Grillo
Age: 29 World Ranking: 125 Open appearances: 5
Best Open finish: T-12, 2021
It didn’t draw any headlines, but his T-2 finish at the John Deere Classic — against a historically weak PGA Tour field — brought with it a plane ticket to Scotland. The Argentine has two T-12s at Opens, including last year at Royal St George’s, but hasn’t developed into the player his early career success suggested he might be.
87: Ian Poulter
Age: 46 World Ranking: 100 Open appearances: 19
Best Open finish: 2, 2008
The outspoken LIV golfer successfully sued the DP World Tour to be able to play in the Scottish Open, where he shot 10-over and missed the cut — and he knows this could well be his last Open Championship. Began the year with a T-6 in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship but does not have a finish better than T-20 anywhere the rest of the year.
86: Alexander Bjork
Age: 33 World Ranking: 160 Open appearances: 3
Best Open finish: MC, 2021
His T-2 at last November’s DP World Tour Championship saw him race up the Race to Dubai standings — high enough, in fact, that he would’ve received a PGA Tour card if such a path existed then as it does now. The Swede has missed the weekend in all five career major starts but now gets another chance for the first time in three years.
85: Guido Migliozzi
Age: 25 World Ranking: 151 Open appearances: 1
Best Open finish: MC, 2021
He’s been a cut-missing machine in Europe this year but he has a couple of finishes that keep us coming back — like his T-4 at last year’s US Open and his final-round 66 for a T-14 at The Country Club. Won twice on the DP World Tour in 2019.
84: Victor Perez
Age: 29 World Ranking: 51 Open appearances: 1
Best Open Championship finish: MC, 2021
Frenchman caught a heater in Europe — winning the Dutch Open and finishing third at the Porsche European Open in Germany — to get back into the top 100 of the rankings, where he was a mainstay from 2019-2021. The biggest win of his career came at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, where two rounds are played at the Old Course. Has missed the cut in each of his last six major-championship starts.
83: Bernd Wiesberger
Age: 36 World Ranking: 104 Open appearances: 7
Best Open finish: T-32, 2019
Prolific winner in Europe and Ryder Cupper put his standing on the DP World Tour in jeopardy by making the move to LIV Golf. He’s now outside the top 100 in the World Ranking and doesn’t have a major top 10 in 29 starts.
82: Thomas Detry
Age: 29 World Ranking: 175 Open appearances: 1
Best Open finish: MC, 2021
Not to be confused with Thomas Pieters, another sweet-swinging Belgian named Thomas who played collegiately at the University of Illinois. Enjoyed an excellent amateur career and has had success in Europe with four runner-up finishes but has yet to claim that first win. Missed the cut in all three of his major appearances in 2021.
81: Adrian Meronk
Age: 29 World Ranking: 64 Open appearances: First
He’s Polish, but he played college golf at East Tennessee State. Won his first DP World Tour title with a three-shot victory at the Irish Open two weeks ago. A not-close MC at the Scottish took some of the shine off, but he’ll still be buzzing as he heads to his first Open Championship.
80: Zach Johnson
Age: 46 World Ranking: 278 Open appearances: 16
Best Open finish: Win, 2015
He’s the next US Ryder Cup captain, and he’s still three-plus years away from PGA Tour Champions eligibility, so his playing condition is somewhat in limbo. Except for this week — he’s the last man to hoist the Claret Jug at the Old Course, and that brings with it a certain swagger. Last top-10 on the PGA Tour was at the 2021 Honda Classic.
79: Luke List
Age: 37 World Ranking: 60 Open appearances: 2
Best Open finish: T-39, 2018
Hits it beautifully — he ranks 11th on tour in strokes gained/ball-striking, a combination of off-the-tee and approach, over his last 24 rounds and sixth in strokes gained tee-to-green for the entire season. His putting holds him back, but perhaps the slower surfaces in Scotland will be more to his liking (or, put differently, less to his disliking). He’ll give himself plenty of birdie looks with his length.
78: Webb Simpson
Age: 36 World Ranking: 63 Open appearances: 9
Best Open finish: T-12, 2018
There’s just not much good news to report here — he’s having his worst spell as a professional since the initial belly-putter-ban slump in 2015, and a missed cut against a historically weak field at the John Deere Classic felt like a new low. But if there’s anyone to remain positive throughout a barren stretch it’s the ruthlessly optimistic Simpson. Made the cut in eight of nine Open starts.
77: Cameron Young
Age: 25 World Ranking: 31 Open appearances: First
The next in the continuous assembly line of young, powerful and fearless young Americans. The Wake Forest grad has three runner-up finishes and two thirds in his rookie season, including at the PGA Championship, but he’s run into a bit of a wall since: a T-60 at the Memorial and missed cuts at the US Open and Scottish Open. He plays a distinctly modern game, pumping it miles, and this will be his first crack at a bouncy links in competition against the best in the world.
76: Adri Arnaus
Age: 27 World Ranking: 66 Open appearances: 1
Best Open finish: MC, 2019
On paper, the Dubai resident is the exact type of player that should benefit from the DPWT beginning to offering 10 PGA Tour cards at the end of its seasons, for he has a legitimate chance at earning one. Texas A&M grad went back to Europe to get his footing as a professional and has blossomed over the past couple years, winning his first DPWT in May and now finding himself firmly inside the top 100 of the rankings. Showed solidly at the PGA (T-30) but missed the weekend at the US Open.
75: Tom Hoge
Age: 33 World Ranking: 43 Open appearances: First
A fantastic West Coast swing brought the North Dakotan his first PGA Tour victory after more than 200+ starts, and his high ranking has turned 2022 into the first year that he’s played all four majors. Tied for ninth at the PGA at Southern Hills but missed his next four cuts heading into the Scottish Open. Ranks 94th on tour in strokes gained/around the green and 124h in strokes gained/putting, which gives us pause.
74: Christiaan Bezuidenhout
Age: 28 World Ranking: 59 Open appearances: 2
Best Open finish: T-53, 2021
Gave himself some much-needed breathing room in his first full PGA Tour season with a T-2 against a weak field the John Deere Classic. The FedEx Cup points, however, still count the same. He doesn’t have a lot of awful weeks and has made the weekend in 15 of 19 PGA Tour starts on the season, but the Deere marked his first top-10 of 2022, and he hasn’t clearly shown he can contend against top-level fields on major-championship-style layouts.
73: Min Woo Lee
Age: 23 World Ranking: 69 Open appearances: 1
Best Open finish: MC, 2021
Watch the young Aussie swing one time and you’ll understand why so many are excited about his future prospects. Won the Scottish Open last year to catapult his career — his title defence last week, on the other hand, was a disaster — and while he’s struggled to sustain week-in and week-out consistency, his major performances this year are encouraging: a T-14 at the Masters and a T-27 at the US Open.
72: Mackenzie Hughes
Age: 31 World Ranking: 70 Open appearances: 2
Best Open finish: T-51, 2018
When you read “rank-and-file” in articles discussing the LIV dynamic, you’re reading about guys like Mackenzie Hughes — a very solid Canadian player who has some impressive finishes in weaker-field events, but is not going to sell many tickets in the United States. Ranks outside the top 100 in strokes gained/off the tee and approach, and inside the top 30 in around the green and short game. Was T-6 at last year’s Open Championship.
71: Chris Kirk
Age: 37 World Ranking: 57 Open appearances: 3
Best Open finish: T-19, 2014
It’s been quiet — everything he does is — but the big man is playing some nice golf at the moment. Picked up his first major top-10 with a T-5 at Southern Hills, followed it up with a T-15 at Colonial, didn’t get into the US Open but made the cut at the Memorial and took T-7 at the RBC Canadian Open. He’s 25th on the PGA Tour in strokes gained/overall over his last 50 rounds and has gained ground on the field off the tee in 15 consecutive starts, which is hugely impressive.
70: Laurie Canter
Age: 32 World Ranking: 131 Open appearances: 2
Best Open finish: T-37, 2017
Englishman did not hesitate to make the jump to LIV Golf from the DP World Tour, where his best finish was a runner-up. Finished middle of the pack in the first LIV event and near the bottom in the second. This will mark just his fourth appearance in a major championship, three of which have been Opens.
69: Si Woo Kim
Age: 32 World Ranking: 113 Open appearances: 3
Best Open finish: T-67, 2018
The swing’s as pretty as ever, but his name has been mostly absent from leaderboards this year — he doesn’t have a top 10 finish in his last 20 starts and has had no success to speak of at the Open Championship. Missed the cut at the Genesis Scottish Open by a million. Has a knack of plotting his way around Pete Dye courses, but that’s a distinctly modern American style and very different from the links he’ll face this week.
68: Pablo Larrazabal
Age: 39 World Ranking: 72 Open appearances: 7
Best Open finish: T-30, 2011
European Tour lifer has two wins on the now-DP World Tour in 2022, bringing his career haul to seven. Interestingly, he played the LIV event in London then returned to the DPWT at the Irish Open — he was fined $100,000 for doing so, but a T-13 and a $360,000 pay cheque more than covered it. Has played seven Opens in his life but none since 2017. Missed the weekend at St Andrews in 2015.
67: Haotong Li
Age: 26 World Ranking: 136 Open appearances: 4
Best Open finish: 3, 2017
China’s best golfer has had a bit of a roller-coaster career thus far — took solo third as a 21-year-old at the 2017 Open, won the 2018 Dubai Desert Classic and played his way onto the 2019 Presidents Cup team, only to have a nightmarish week that sent him on a tailspin outside the top 400 in the World Ranking. It’s why he was so emotional when he won his third DPWT title at the BMW International Open–so excited that he forgot to shake runner-up Thomas Pieters’ hand, which did not sit well with many.
66: Kevin Na
Age: 38 World Ranking: 33 Open appearances: 8
Best Open finish: T-22, 2016
He’s skipped this tournament voluntarily each of the past two years, but apparently the allure of the 150th at St Andrews was enough to draw him over.
65: Stewart Cink
Age: 49 World Ranking: 95 Open appearances: 22
Best Open Championship finish: Win, 2009
Been 13 years since he shattered hearts by ending Tom Watson’s quest for glory at Turnberry. He’s played some really solid golf in his late 40s, highlighted by a two-win season in 2020-21, and figures to be quite the force on the PGA Tour Champions should he decided to play there when he is eligible next May. He hasn’t lost any distance and feels as strong as ever, but his short game of late has been poor, and that doesn’t bode well for the tight lies and delicate chips that St Andrews will present.
64: Nicolai Hojgaard
Age: 21 World Ranking: 108 Open appearances: 1
Best Open finish: MC, 2018
His twin brother Rasmus got more hype early on, but it’s Nicolai who sits higher in the World Ranking and has a spot in this field. Has two wins on the DP World Tour, including at Ras Al Khaimah, but has not shown much consistency — perhaps that’s to be expected at 21.
63: Lee Westwood
Age: 49 World Ranking: 90 Open appearances: 26
Best Open finish: 2, 2010
This marks his 27th Open Championship appearance and his last before he becomes eligible for the Senior Open. Missed the cut in four of his last five starts before moving over to LIV Golf, and he’s been middle of the pack in both starts on that tour. Has six top-10 finishes in Opens and took solo second to Louis Oosthuizen at the Old Course in 2010, but Father Time appears to be on the front foot here.
62: Justin Harding
Age: 36 World Ranking: 114 Open appearances: 3
Best Open finish: T-19, 2019
The South African was one of four LIV Golfers who successfully petitioned a British court for a stay that allowed them to play in the Scottish Open. He then shot five-under in the opening round and told reporters he wasn’t quite sure how he suddenly became eligible again. A T-10 and T-8 finish in his first two LIV events had netted him more than $1.1 million.
61: Aaron Wise
Age: 26 World Ranking: 45 Open appearances: 1
Best Open finish: T-41, 2019
Switched to a broomstick-style putter last year and it has paid dividends — a solo second at the Memorial saw him jump 42 spots in the World Ranking. Still just 26, there’s plenty of time for this former rookie of the year to develop into a Ryder Cup-level player. Made the cut in seven consecutive major starts.
60: Sebastian Munoz
Age: 29 World Ranking: 51 Open appearances: 2
Best Open finish: MC, 2021
Has made 12 straight cuts on the PGA Tour, has two rounds of 60 this season alone and finished T-14 at the last major championship. On the cusp of the Presidents Cup picture and checks all the boxes statistically. The only note of caution: he’s missed the cut at both of his Open starts, and missed the weekend at last week’s Scottish Open.
59: Jason Kokrak
Age: 37 World Ranking: 34 Open appearances: 3
Best Open finish: T-26, 2021
Perhaps the most surprising guy not to have made the jump to LIV, given his Golf Saudi sponsorship and his openness about viewing golf as a means toward financial security and early retirement. Speculation of an impending jump peaked after he didn’t finish his last hole before missing the cut at the Travelers Championship, leading to a very quick DQ, but he turned up at the Scottish Open (and missed the cut). Zero top-10 finishes in 21 career major championship starts.
58: KH Lee
Age: 30 World Ranking: 40 Open appearances: First
Hasn’t accomplished all that much on courses other than TPC Craig Ranch — which is fine, because TPC Craig Ranch hosts a PGA Tour event every year, and he’s won the last two. Now inside the top 50 in the World Ranking, he’s got a good chance to make the Presidents Cup team and gets his first crack at the Open Championship. Made the weekend at both the PGA Championship and US Open.
57: Bryson DeChambeau
Age: 28 World Ranking: 32 Open appearances: 4
Best Open finish: T-33, 2021
After his seminal major victory at Winged Foot in September 2020 there was legitimate talk/fear that a player with his power could almost single handedly make the Old Course obsolete. He has been plagued by injury and drama since. Let’s start with the injury — DeChambeau had surgery to repair a bone in his left hand/wrist area, which kept him out for two months. Then, just six days after seemingly committing again to the PGA Tour, he joined LIV Golf and made his debut in Portland, where he looked fine if unspectacular. He hits a very high, very spinny ball that can often be difficult to control in the wind, and his scientific approach will clash considerably with the old-school, feel-it-out nature of seaside links golf. In four Open Championship starts he has missed two cuts and not finished better than T-33.
56: Richard Bland
Age: 49 World Ranking: 74 Open appearances: 3
Best Open finish: T-22, 2017
One of the 40-something Euros who made the move to LIV from the outset, he did so without reservations and with full acknowledgement of the ephemeral nature of his golf future. In addition to bringing him millions of dollars in guaranteed money, his late-career flourish has him playing his fifth major in two years after playing just three for the prior 22.
55: Sahith Theegala
Age: 24 World Ranking: 51 Open appearances: First
It’s pronounced SAW-hith. Just felt like that was worth making clear. He and Cameron Young are the top two candidates for PGA Tour rookie of the year. Impossible not to like the young, big Californian, who plays with a smile on his face and says only the right things in the press. He was T-5 at the Memorial, T-2 at the Travelers and T-12 at the John Deere, and that strong run of play got him into his first non-US Open major championship when Daniel Berger withdrew.
54: Abraham Ancer
Age: 31 World Ranking: 21 Open appearances: 3
Best Open finish: T-59, 2021
Given his age, World Ranking and excellent reputation within the golf community, the Mexican was a significant get for LIV. He signed on shortly before the Portland event and made his debut at Pumpkin Ridge, finishing 11th and making a boatload of cash for doing so. His switch came in the midst of a mini-slump, for he’d posted just one top-10 finish (a T-9 at the PGA Championship) in 13 stroke-play starts on the PGA Tour in 2022. Faces some pressure to put up some World Ranking points this week; he’s been getting into majors by way of his ranking/FedEx Cup standing, and this could be his only chance to earn world ranking points for the foreseeable future. As far as the FedEx Cup goes, well, that’s no longer an option.
53: Paul Casey
Age: 44 World Ranking: 27 Open appearances: 13
Best Open finish: T-3, 2010
Has not completed a competitive round since a solo-third finish at the Players in March as a back injury has eaten into the meat of the summer. He has teased a return numerous times but withdrawn from tournaments without fail. Announced as the newest LIV Golf commit during the Portland broadcast and committed to making a return at Trump Bedminster in late July, but could only say he “hoped” to play the Open. Excellent career but as his age continues to rise and his back continues to nag, the clock is ticking for him to punctuate it with a major championship victory. Still a very consistent ball-striker, he’d made the weekend in 10 straight starts before the extended injury.
52: Harris English
Age: 32 World Ranking: 30 Open appearances: 6
Best Open finish: T-15, 2013
Returned to competition after nearly a five-month break for hip surgery at the Memorial. Missed the cut there and finished near-last among those who made the weekend at the US Open. Clearly playing his way into competitive shape, he made strides in a T-19 at his title defence at the Travelers. Another lower-ball hitter, he’s made the weekend in five of six starts in the Open but has not posted a top 10.
51: Harold Varner III
Age: 31 World Ranking: 37 Open appearances: 2
Best Open finish: T-66, 2016
This has been the best year of his career by a good margin. Still hasn’t won on the PGA Tour but he did beat a strong field in Saudi Arabia to begin the year. Withdrew from last week’s Scottish Open but was seen getting some golf in at Portmarnock in Ireland, so there doesn’t seem to be any injury concerns. This will mark his 11th major but he’s still looking for his first top 20.
50: Lucas Herbert
Age: 26 World Ranking: 49 Open appearances: 2
Best Open finish: T-51, 2018
Enjoying a no-stress rookie season on the PGA Tour. That’s what happens when you win your third event as a member, locking up status for the next two-plus years and freeing yourself up from the pressure of keeping your card. After missing the cut at Brookline, the Aussie flew to Europe, where he played until this season, and took T-9 at the Irish Open. Solid young player who has a good chance to make this year’s Presidents Cup team.
49: Kevin Kisner
Age: 38 World Ranking: 26 Open appearances: 6
Best Open finish: T-2, 2018
With his game, the Open Championship probably presents his best chance to pick off a major. Came his closest at the 2018 edition at Carnoustie, and he’s made the cut in five straight Opens. Had missed five cuts in a row before bouncing back in a big way with a T-6 at the Travelers. His lack of length won’t be too fatal at the Old Course, and he’ll want it to be a windy scramble-fest.
48: Sergio Garcia
Age: 42 World Ranking: 68 Open appearances: 24
Best Open finish: 2, 2007
Jeopardized a surefire Ryder Cup captaincy by making the move to LIV, which he said was in large part to spend more time with his two young children. As such, given his age and how many miles he’s logged, you wonder how much of a priority the game is at this stage of his life. He’s missed the cut in 13 of his 20 major starts since winning the 2017 Masters, though he showed at last autumn’s Ryder Cup that he can still ball-strike with the best of them. He also plays the Old Course well, with a T-5 at the 2005 Open and a T-14 in 2015.
47: Keegan Bradley
Age: 36 World Ranking: 41 Open appearances: 8
Best Open finish: T-18, 2016
The New Englander is enjoying a resurgent season — he finished second at the Wells Fargo to get into the US Open in his beloved Boston, then figured all week at The Country Club in route to a T-7, and rounded out the New England double with a T-19 at the Travelers near Hartford, Connceticut. Has four top-10s in majors but none have come in the Open, and he’s missed the weekend in his last two tries.
46: Sam Horsfield
Age: 25 World Ranking: 86 Open appearances: 1
Best Open finish: T-67, 2021
England-born, Florida-bred golfer was perhaps the most promising young DPWT member to made the move to LIV. Won his third DP World Tour event at the Soudal Open just before leaving, and he’s missed the cut in both majors he’s played in this year. Finished fifth in the inaugural LIV event and 14th in Portland, so money is not a concern at the minute.
45: Gary Woodland
Age: 38 World Ranking: 91 Open appearances: 9
Best Open finish: T-12, 2016
Showing signs of life after a prolonged slump, he took T-10 at the US Open and was right near the lead at the halfway point of the Scottish Open. He’s got the best stinger this side of prime Tiger Woods and should be appointment viewing should the wind reach gale-force levels.
44: Danny Willett
Age: 34 World Ranking: 145 Open appearances: 9
Best Open finish: T-6, 2015
Why is a player who’s missed four of his last five cuts, and ranked well outside the top 100, featured so prominently? He’s a bit of an Old Course specialist. Won last year’s Alfred Dunhill Links by shooting 66 on Saturday and 68 on Sunday at St Andrews, and he was T-6 at the 2015 Open here.
43: Ryan Fox
Age: 35 World Ranking: 46 Open appearances: 5
Best Open finish: T-16, 2019
Fans of the DP World Tour will know this, but for those who do not: this Kiwi has been absolutely killing it across the pond. The long hitter has seven top-10 finishes in his last 10 starts, including a win in RAK, three runners-up and a solo third. It’s a white-hot stretch that has taken him all the way inside the top 50 of the World Ranking, and the only downside is it’s not 2023 — that’s when the top 10 players on the DPWT will start getting PGA Tour cards. Despite all that success in Europe, it’s hard to ignore his finishes against top-level fields in America this year: a 54th at the PGA, a missed cut at the US Open and a missed cut at the Genesis Scottish Open.
42: Russell Henley
Age: 33 World Ranking: 53 Open appearances: 7
Best Open finish: T-20, 2015
Been one of the premier iron players in the world for the last few years, which is usually a harbinger of success, but he’s not as well-rounded as the players surrounding him in that statistic. His scheduling this summer has also been pretty sparse: he played the PGA, then nothing before the US Open (where he missed the cut), and did not play anywhere between the US Open and the Open Championship.
41: Adam Scott
Age: 41 World Ranking: 42 Open appearances: 21
Best Open finish: 2, 2012
He’s had a few chances to win one of these — most notably a decade ago, when he bogeyed the final four holes at Royal Lytham & St Anne’s to hand the trophy to Ernie Els. Swinging it as elegantly as ever but his ball-striking stats are just OK this year, as he ranks a very average 74th on the PGA Tour in SG/tee to green. This will mark his fifth Open at St Andrews, where he made his major championship debut 22 years ago. He’s made the cut in three of four starts at the Old Course and finished T-10 in 2010.
40: Corey Conners
Age: 30 World Ranking: 29 Open appearances: 2
Best Open finish: T-15, 2021
The Canadian is something of an Augusta National specialist, with top-10 finishes in each of the last three Masters. He followed up a T-6 there this year with two other top-25 finishes before missing the cut at the PGA, then had a T-13/solo-sixth stretch before missing the cut at the US Open. Hmmm. Games a low, boring draw that should cut through the wind nicely, and his T-15 at Royal St George’s last year suggests at least some comfort on links courses. There are legitimate questions about his chipping and putting, however.
39: Joohyung Kim
Age: 20 World Ranking: 61 Open appearances: First
Remember the name — and remember Tom, because that’s what he goes by. South Korean player turned pro at 16 and, at 20, there’s no one on Earth who is both younger than him and ranked higher in the world rankings. Posted an impressive 23rd-place finish at the US Open and hung around the top of the Genesis Scottish Open leaderboard for the entirety of the week. That felt like a proper arrival, and if he doesn’t make this year’s Presidents Cup team, he’ll make the next.
38: Talor Gooch
Age: 30 World Ranking: 38 Open appearances: 1
Best Open finish: T-33, 2021
Who knew a soft-spoken Oklahoman would be in the news so often for things unrelated to his golf? Was the most surprising name on the initial LIV player announcement. He desperately needs a good week to rack up some World Ranking points and if he drops out of the top 50, his major invites will dry up fast.
37: Justin Rose
Age: 41 World Ranking: 51 Open appearances: 19
Best Open finish: T-2, 2018
Been a strange couple of years for the former World No. 1. He’s clearly dropped a level with his play and his ranking, but only one level. It hasn’t been a disastrous tumble from relevancy, and there are plenty of solid finishes sprinkled in — a T-4 at the RBC Canadian Open and a T-13 at the PGA, for example — but they’re not quite as high nor as frequent as they were three or four years ago. He’s a prideful player, and this tournament means something to him. He’s made the cut in seven straight Opens and tied for sixth at the 2015 Open at St Andrews.
36: Keith Mitchell
Age: 30 World Ranking: 54 Open Championship appearances: 2
Best Open Championship finish: MC, 2021
Posted back-to-back top-10s at the Travelers and RBC Canadian Open to secure his spot at St Andrews, which holds a special place in his heart — his dad is a longtime member of the R&A and his sister graduated from the University of St Andrews. He’s fifth on the PGA Tour this season in strokes gained tee to green and an impressive 23rd in SG/overall.
35: Brian Harman
Age: 35 World Ranking: 50 Open appearances: 6
Best Open finish: T-19, 2021
The undersized but overachieving former Georgia Bulldog is having another very solid season on the PGA Tour with four top-10 finishes this calendar year. Doesn’t necessarily excel at one particular aspect of the game but is accurate and scrambles well. There’s a bit of Zach Johnson going on here, and ZJ is the last guy to hoist the Claret Jug at St Andrews. That said, Harman did shoot 10-over in the first round of the Scottish Open.
34: JT Poston
Age: 29 World Ranking: 58 Open appearances: First
He was 214th in the world during Masters week; he’ll enter the Open just outside the top 50, and the jump mostly happened in his last two starts. The easy-going North Carolinian finished T-2 at the Travelers then won his second career PGA Tour title at the John Deere Classic, which got him into his first Open. Not a bad place to make that debut.
33: Cameron Tringale
Age: 34 World Ranking: 55 Open appearances: 3
Best Open finish: T-26, 2021
A solid T-6 at the Scottish Open after leading the first two rounds is the highest-earning PGA Tour player (more than $16 million) without a victory. He’s been playing some very solid golf over the past two-plus years, but the casual fan might never have heard of him, as he seems to percolate in the T-15 to T-30 range. His opening-round, course-record 61 at Renaissance Club last week was example No. 2,000,000 of how much depth there is in world golf.
32: Billy Horschel
Age: 35 World Ranking: 15 Open appearances: 7
Best Open finish: T-30, 2015
Playing the best golf of his career in his mid-30s, which doesn’t happen all that often anymore. Won the flagship event on the DP World Tour last year at the BMW PGA Championship and knocked off a big PGA Tour event with a dominant victory at the Memorial. All that said, his record in the majors is pretty horrific given how long he’s been a top-50 calibre player: he has exactly one top-10 in 35 career major starts, and it came in the first major he played as a professional way back in 2013. At the Open, he’s been sent home on Friday on five of seven occasions.
31: Mito Pereira
Age: 27 World Ranking: 47 Open appearances: First
Handled his collapse at Southern Hills as well as is possible and bounced back with three straight finishes of T-13 or better, but he comes into his first Open off three consecutive missed cuts. At last week’s Scottish Open, he was near the lead after the first round only to blow up with an 80 on Friday. He’s an excellent player with a glistening future, but there’s work to do in the holding-it-together-when-its-going-wrong category.
30: Marc Leishman
Age: 39 World Ranking: 52 Open appearances: 9
Best Open finish: T-2, 2015
Was part of the three-man playoff in the 2015 Open at St Andrews, and that runner-up finish was the Aussies best chance thus far to win that elusive major. Has a very good history at the Open in general, with two other top-six finishes to go with that near-miss, but has missed the cut in the last two. Dropped out of the top 50 in the World Ranking this summer for the first time since 2017. Comes in off back-to-back missed cuts, at the Travelers and Scottish Open.
29: Tiger Woods
Age: 46 World Ranking: 974 Open appearances: 21
Best Open Championship finish: Win, 2000, 2005, 2006
He has made the cut in both majors he’s played in 2022, which is more than plenty of elite golfers can say. But he did not show a physical ability to put four rounds together in either — that was to be expected at Augusta, just 14 months after his career-and-leg-threatening accident, but the strength he said he built up for the PGA Championship was nowhere to be seen at Southern Hills. That set him back to the point where he felt necessary to skip the US Open, and he looked stiff and rusty at the JP McManus Pro-Am. But this has been circled on his calendar forever — he’s called St Andrews his favorite golf course in the world, and he’s won two of his three Claret Jugs there — and, with no must-play tournament on the calendar for another nine months after this, he will not hold back in pushing his body as far as it can go this week. Should he make even the slightest run this weekend, the place might combust.
28: Thomas Pieters
Age: 30 World Ranking: 35 Open appearances: 4
Best Open finish: T-28, 2018
The 2016 Ryder Cup star’s having a resurgent stretch in Europe, with two victories and a playoff loss since November. As a result, he’s back high enough in the World Ranking to play a number of events in the states, but he’s done so without much success — his best finish in five stroke-play stateside starts (say that five times fast) is a T-27 at the US Open. Has made the weekend in all four Open appearances.
27: Robert MacIntyre
Age: 25 World Ranking: 102 Open appearances: 2
Best Open finish: T-6, 2019
The Scot has missed the cut in three of his last four starts on the DP World Tour, including at his ‘fifth major’, last week’s Genesis Scottish Open. Perhaps all he needs to round into form is an actual major championship to roll around — he’s made the cut in all nine he’s played in, and his two Open Championship starts have yielded a T-6 and a T-8. Something tells us he’ll put on a show on home soil.
26: Louis Oosthuizen
Age: 39 World Ranking: 51 Open appearances: 14
Best Open finish: Win, 2010
He didn’t just win the 2010 Open at St Andrews, he took that tournament by the throat and never let go, eventually running up his winning tally to seven shots. He’s had a wonderful career since, and his swing will go down among the all-time greats, but he’ll be equally remembered for all the near-misses and could-have-beens. Finished in the top three in each of the last three majors of 2021 but has gone WD/T-60/MC so far this year. That, plus his move to LIV Golf and his explanation for doing so — essentially: I’m getting older, I don’t want to be out here much longer, this would probably be my last year on the PGA Tour anyway — brings his motivation into question. Then again, he’s back at the course that hosted the peak of his golf life.
25: Viktor Hovland
Age: 24 World Ranking: 8 Open appearances: 1
Best Open finish: T-12, 2021
We’re not quite ready to bring out the S-word — get your head out of the gutter, it’s slump — but we’re getting close. The Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic champ flirted with becoming World No. 1 through the Florida swing and got as high as No. 3 but does not have a top-10 in his last seven starts, including a missed cut at the US Open after a disastrous second-round 77. Took some time off after that before heading to Scotland for the double. Only problem is, his clubs didn’t make the trip with him, and he looked out of sorts on Thursday at the Renaissance Club. His chipping remains a gigantic drag on his golf game, and that’s going to be hugely important this week. Until that improves, he’s going to have a hard time contending in majors.
24: Hideki Matsuyama
Age: 30 World Ranking: 14 Open appearances: 7
Best Open finish: T-6, 2013
Has dealt with a neck injury throughout the year but it hasn’t stopped him from winning twice on the wraparound season, and he nearly stole the US Open with a final-round 65 that was the best round of the day by two. Remains an elite ball-striker, but he hits it miles in the air, and that doesn’t translate well in the UK. Missed the cut at last week’s Genesis Scottish Open and has missed the weekend in three of his last four Open Championship starts. Also at the centre of some pretty heavy LIV rumours, which could be a distraction.
23: Brooks Koepka
Age: 32 World Ranking: 20 Open appearances: 7
Best Open finish: T-4, 2019
He was the best major championship player, bar none, from 2017-2021, but 2022 is looking increasingly like a totally lost year. He missed the cut at the Masters and finished 55th at the PGA and US Open before moving to LIV just a few days later. He started strong in Portland but faded considerably with a final-round 76. That said, he’s finished T-6 or better in three of his last four Open Championship starts and took T-10 when the Open was last at St Andrews in 2015. We keep waiting for Big Bad Brooksy to return. Perhaps he never will. Or maybe it’ll be this week.
22: Sungjae Im
Age: 24 World Ranking: 23 Open appearances: 1
Best Open Championship finish: MC, 2019
Skipped last year’s Open to focus on the Olympics, which offered him a chance to avoid mandatory Korean military service if he medalled. Alas, he did not. Also missed this year’s PGA Championship when he tested positive back home in South Korea for COVID-19. Withdrew from the Travelers. So this will mark only Im’s 16th start of 2022, so he’s got some serious work if he’s to get into the low- to mid-30s as is his habit.
21: Tommy Fleetwood
Age: 31 World Ranking: 44 Open appearances: 5
Best Open finish: 3, 2019
In danger of dropping outside the top 50 in the World Ranking, and you wonder if all the speculation of a potential LIV move is weighing on him. He’ll never show it if it is, however, as he’s retained his happy-go-lucky attitude throughout the last year-plus, despite the relative struggles on the golf course. It hasn’t been terrible — his missed cut at the US Open is his only early departure in his last 12 starts — but he has not seriously contended for a trophy in more than two years. Been T-33 or better in each of the last four Opens and this Brit is comfortable on links.
20: Seamus Power
Age: 35 World Ranking: 36 Open appearances: First
Who’d have thought that a mid-30s (former) journeyman from Ireland would emerge as a serious candidate for the next Ryder Cup team? Power was on the Monday qualifier grind before finding his game last summer, and it’s carried over into this year — including the big events. He took T-27 at the Masters, the first career major championship start, then took T-9 at the PGA and T-12 at the US Open. Now he’ll tee it up in a tournament he always dreamed of playing in.
19: Will Zalatoris
Age: 25 World Ranking: 13 Open appearances: 1
Best Open finish: WD, 2021
He’s already three-fourths of the way to the Louis slam after his runner-up finish at the US Open, which seriously stung. He’s been eighth or better in six of his eight major championship starts as a professional, but that does not include any at the Open — he started solidly in his debut last year at Royal St George’s but withdrew due to a back injury. His irons are as pure as it gets, but having watched every shot he hit in the final round at The Country Club I’m slightly concerned by his driving in the wind. He games a spinny cut that could get eaten up by the wind, and he had a two-way miss going as he missed the cut last week in Scotland. Not the greatest fit.
18: Justin Thomas
Age: 29 World Ranking: 5 Open appearances: 5
Best Open finish: T-11, 2019
He’s been such a consistent performer for the last seven years, picking off PGA Tour events at a rapid rate and banking multiple majors. But he’s been a different, far worse player on links layouts. For his career he’s finished in the top 10 in 36 per cent of his PGA Tour starts, but he’s 0 for 5 at the Open Championship (with two missed cuts) and shot 10-over through two rounds at the Scottish Open last year. The lazy analysis is that this Kentucky-born, Alabama-fuelled 20-something doesn’t know hot-to-handle non-TrackMan golf, but that couldn’t be further from the truth — inspired by his BFF Tiger Woods he works the ball as much as anyone. Truth is, he’s just as confused as you are by the struggles overseas.
17: Collin Morikawa
Age: 25 World Ranking: 4 Open appearances: 1
Best Open finish: Win, 2021
Last summer, during his first foray into links golf, he struggled considerably with his ball-striking at the Scottish Open. So he made an equipment change, figured it out, and won his second major championship. He’ll be hoping for a similar last-minute flip this year, for his game has been frustratingly inconsistent this year. Particularly his iron play — he’d been at Tiger-like levels the past two years with his trusty fade, but it’s been hard to pin down this year, and he admitted at the US Open that he was primarily playing a draw for the first time since his freshman year of college. He still managed to shoot three rounds in the 60s at The Country Club for his second top-five in a major this year. He’s obviously comfortable in winning situations, and there’s something to be said for being the defending champion. But there have been far too many meh weeks this year — including a missed cut at last week’s Scottish.
16: Cameron Smith
Age: 28 World Ranking: 6 Open appearances: 4
Best Open finish: T-20, 2019
His stock reached an all-time high after a T-3 finish at the Masters after his Players win a month earlier, but it’s been tougher going since: his last five starts have yielded two missed cuts and zero top-10s. Interestingly, the difference has been the putter — after winning at TPC Sawgrass with a jaw-dropping putting display, he lost ground to the field on the greens in three of his next four starts. He’s a shotmaker with a pillow-soft touch, the exact type of player you’d think would excel on the firm and finicky turf at the Old Course. The challenge for him will be controlling his driver in the wind, for he’s prone to a spinny miss that can veer way off line. Also, he’s had no real success to speak of in Opens so far in his career.
15: Sam Burns
Age: 25 World Ranking: 9 Open appearances: 1
Best Open finish: T-76, 2021
With three wins on the wraparound season it’s already been one hell of a breakout year for the laconic Lousianan. He hasn’t quite put himself in the mix to win a major on Sunday but he was semi-close at the US Open, where he played in one of the final twosomes on Saturday before a seven-over weekend saw him drop to T-27. He’s represented by the same GSE agency that has negotiated a bunch of LIV Golf deals for its players — Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia, Abraham Ancer, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, Carlos Ortiz and Eugenio Chacarra — so there has been speculation he might make the move. Made the cut but was a non-factor in his Open Championship debut a year ago.
14: Patrick Reed
Age: 31 World Ranking: 39 Open appearances: 7
Best Open finish: 10, 2019
Ended his long, uneasy marriage with the PGA Tour by making the plunge to LIV prior to the Portland event. His World Ranking had already been slipping with just one top-10 finish in 16 starts on the PGA/DP World Tour but did look better in Portland with a final-round 67 tying him for third. Back working with swing coach Kevin Kirk after a brief (and unsuccessful) stint with David Leadbetter. Full-swing work aside, his short game remains among the best there is, and throughout his career he has gained more than a shot on his competition on v windy days. He’d never admit it, but we suspect he’d love to emerge as the representative for LIV challenging for the Claret Jug.
13: Max Homa
Age: 31 World Ranking: 19 Open appearances: 1
Best Open finish: T-40, 2021
Still looking for a major championship performance to corroborate his showings in big non-major events. He’s been a stud in those but just hasn’t been the same player in the majors, although he has made the cut in the first three of 2022 — progress, considering he missed six of eight to start his career. Has become an increasingly outspoken supporter of the PGA Tour and seemed genuinely excited to head overseas for a fortnight of Scottish golf. If he doesn’t at least figure in the PIP race this year, something is wrong with the system.
12: Dustin Johnson
Age: 38 World Ranking: 17 Open appearances: 10
Best Open finish: T-2, 2011
Raced out to a three-shot lead at the LIV Portland event but struggled down the stretch and finished well behind winner Branden Grace. His ball speed has been down considerably, and he spend the first two days of the US Open being outdriven by Matt Fitzpatrick. He’s now one of the older guys in the top 25 and is one of the few in the Open field to have played at St Andrews in both 2010 (T-14) and 2015 (T-49). He’s had chances at the Open before, including an especially good one at Royal St George’s in 2011, and a victory would bring him the third leg of the career Grand Slam — and generate quite a bit of attention given his new tour affiliation.
11: Patrick Cantlay
Age: 30 World Ranking: 7 Open appearances: 3
Best Open finish: T-12, 2018
Was a total dud in the year’s first two majors, finishing T-39 at the Masters and missing the cut at Southern Hills, but he has bounced back with three finishes of T-14 or better. And while it feels like a bit of a step-backwards year — how could it not, given his torrid stretch to end 2021 — he has two solo seconds and a team victory (with Xander Schauffele) already this season and sits sixth in the FedEx Cup points race. For a player of his ranking and his pedigree he still flies a bit under the radar for the general sporting public — that’s because he doesn’t have a top-10 in a major since the 2019 PGA, which is hard to justify given the no-nonsense style of his game. If there is a weakness, it’s his iron play. Missed the cut at last year’s Open.
10: Tyrrell Hatton
Age: 30 World Ranking: 28 Open appearances: 9
Best Open finish: T-5, 2016
Been a pretty quiet summer for a very not-quiet person — he always lets his opinion be known and was vocally critical of the golf course setups at the Masters and the PGA Championship. The good news is it would seem he likes the Old Course better — he’s a two-time winner of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, where two rounds are played at St Andrews, and finished runner-up at last year’s Dunhill. Missed the cut in six of his nine Open Championship starts.
9: Joaquin Niemann
Age: 23 World Ranking: 17 Open appearances: 2
Best Open finish: T-59, 2021
He’s inching toward elite status; the next step is to contend in a major. He’s made the cut in eight straight but does not have a major top-20 yet on his CV. He hits among the lowest balls on the PGA Tour, which should benefit him in the wind, and the game looked solid through two rounds at the Scottish Open. That, plus an underrated short game and his experience beating an elite field at Riviera, has him firmly in the Sleeper category.
8: Tony Finau
Age: 32 World Ranking: 16 Open appearances: 5
Best Open finish: 3, 2019
Finally seems to have putt a sleepy start to 2022 behind him. A missed cut at the US Open will sting, but he preceded that week with a T-4 at Colonial and a solo second to Rory McIlroy at the RBC Canadian Open. His record at the Open Championship is sneaky really impressive: he’s five for five in making the cut and has been T-15 or better in the past three Opens, including a solo third at Royal Portrush in 2019. He’s plenty long to take advantage of the Old Course’s scorable holes, and the slower green speeds should serve as an equalizer — which benefits him, for his putting has been rather inconsistent this year. He’s also by far the best rapper-alonger in the field.
7: Jordan Spieth
Age: 28 World Ranking: 51 Open appearances: 8
Best Open finish: Win, 2017
Reigned atop the golf world the last time the Open visited St Andrews — he had won the first two majors that year and missed a putt on the 72nd hole that would’ve gotten him in a playoff for the third. He’s got a soft spot for golf history, and you know he’s aware of Jack Nickalus’ suggestion that no career is truly complete without an Open win at St Andrews. Spieth is no fan of Palm Springs-like driving range golf, and assuming the wind is up, this will be the inverse of that. It’s no shock, then, that he’s been in the top 10 in four of the last six Opens, including his victory at Birkdale in 2017 and a solo second to Collin Morikawa a year ago. Made the cut at the Scottish Open last week, which gave him four rounds on linksy turf to prepare. He’s got a great chance.
6: Scottie Scheffler
Age: 26 World Ranking: 1 Open appearances: 1
Best Open finish: T-8, 2021
Nearly turned an already great year into an all-timer at the US Open, where he fell one shot short of a playoff with Matt Fitzpatrick. That was his sixth top-10 in his last eight major starts, and that includes his debut at the Open Championship last year. He’s a young American, granted, but his game is a bit old school — he’s got a homemade swing that you won’t find in any instruction manual, and he varies trajectories and shape quite frequently. Plus he grew up in Texas, where you learn to play in the wind. We are, we must admit, somewhat concerned by his missed cut at the Scottish Open (and from the right side of the draw). He also missed the cut at the PGA in May, so while there’s been far more feasts, there have indeed been a few high-profile famines.
5: Matt Fitzpatrick
Age: 27 World Ranking: 10 Open appearances: 6
Best Open finish: T-20, 2019
Emerged as the last man standing on an epic Sunday at The Country Club, where he joined Jack Nicklaus as the only two men to win the US Amateur and the US Open at the same golf course. Hard to believe he hadn’t won on American soil until then, but he’s a far better and more well-rounded player than he was even last year. It’s been well-documented, but his work with swing coach Mike Walker and biomechanist Dr Sasho Mackenzie has seen him gain significant distance off the tee, and he’s no longer limited to competing on shorter or angly courses. His life did change that day in Boston, though, and he spoke openly at the Scottish Open about adjusting to all the added attention and time commitments. Still, he looked excellent through two rounds at the Renaissance Club. He’s long said he feels the US Open fits his game best but the Open Championship should, as well, as the bullet-draw he employed so sweetly at TCC will run forever on the Old Course’s fairways. Rest assured he didn’t party too hard after that victory, and he’ll be amped to get back into his comfort zone between the ropes.
4: Rory McIlroy
Age: 33 World Ranking: 2 Open appearances: 12
Best Open finish: Win, 2014
Back up to World No. 2, and that final-round 64 at the Masters looks increasingly like the springboard to a great stretch of golf. He’s done so despite dealing with being the de facto face of the PGA Tour in this saga with LIV Golf. Comes in off seven straight top-20s and has top-10s in the year’s first three majors. Shot 63 as a 21-year-old in the 2010 Open at St Andrews but followed it up with an 80, a perfect indication of the variability of links golf (and, more specifically, links golf weather). Posted four straight top-fives in Opens from 2014-18, including his victory on a mostly calm week at Royal Liverpool in 2014, but he missed the cut in 2019 and was not a factor in a T-46 last year at Royal St George’s. Was the only top-15 player to skip the Genesis Scottish Open and earn some much-needed rest. He tantalised us by showing up in four of the last five majors in a big way but has failed to close the door, and the eight-year major drought continues.
3: Xander Schauffele
Age: 28 World Ranking: 11 Open appearances: 4
Best Open finish: T-2, 2018
All of a sudden, he’s broken the monotony of a middling year and has some “capital-m” Momentum. A victory over a very strong field at the Travelers Championship brought him his first solo victory since the Olympics and first solo PGA Tour victory since January 2019. Take it for what you will, given the setting, but he then won the individual portion of the stacked JP McManus Pro-Am and overcame the wrong side of the draw at the Scottish Open to still pull out a third consecutive victory. He posted at least one major top-10 for the first five years of his career but doesn’t have one yet this year, missing the cut at the Masters, tying for 13th at the PGA and tying for 14th at the US Open. We’re willing to bet that changes this week. HIs confidence is as high as it’s been in a good while.
2: Jon Rahm
Age: 27 World Ranking: 3 Open appearances: 5
Best Open finish: T-3, 2021
Staked his claim as the world’s best player in 2021, when he won his first major at the US Open and finished eighth or better in the other three. He hasn’t had a top-10 in the first three of this year. He’s made the cut in all three, but that’s not going to cut it for a player of his calibre. His ball-striking hasn’t been the problem — he leads the tour in SG/off the tee — but he’s struggled getting the ball into the hole, both chipping and putting. Encouraging, then, that he picked up more than five shots on the green at the Memorial and more than three at the US Open. Hard to believe he won’t win at least one of these before he’s finished, and there’s no reason it can’t be this week. Flying under the radar insofar as that’s possible for the World No. 3.
1: Shane Lowry
Age: 35 World Ranking: 24 Open appearances: 9
Best Open finish: Win, 2019
A missed cut at the US Open was a blip on what’s been an otherwise fantastic year. The only thing missing is a victory — he has 11 top-25 finishes in 14 worldwide starts in 2022. He’s known for his impressive short game, but it’s the iron statistics that jump off the page this season, ranking ninth in SG/approach. Obviously has ideal Open memories to draw back on given his storybook victory at Royal Portrush in 2019, and he looked comfortable in a T-12 last year at Royal St George’s. He’s one of the few players not glued to their Trackman and relishes the chance to vary trajectories and flights; a course like St Andrews would seem to be perfect for him, for it will force players to control distances. Comes in off a week of rest following a top-10 at the Irish Open. All systems are a go, and he’s the pick for a victory that’d be surprising only to those not paying attention.
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