Australian golfer Adam Scott is set to appear in his 18th Open Championship this year as he bids to lift the famous Claret Jug for the first time in his career. The former world number one ranked player has had four top ten finishes in the last five years in a tournament in which Scott has often found his best game for.
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Adam Scott came very close to ending his wait for a Major Championship in 2012, but ultimately had to settle for second place at the time behind Ernie Els. The Australian held the 54-hole lead and went into the final round at Royal Lytham and St Annes with a four-stroke advantage. He found trouble on the back nine in the world’s oldest major, though, and missed a putt on the 18th, which would have forced a play-off with Els.
Since that disappointment, Scott has won five times on the PGA Tour, including the US Masters, the biggest victory of his career so far. He earned his first Green Jacket following a play-off win over Angel Cabrera in 2013.
The man from Adelaide has not been in the best of form in 2017; however, he has looked more comfortable with a conventional putter in recent tournaments. Scott was one of the players affected by the change in the laws last year which saw the belly-putter banned from the sport. Given how well the former Masters champion drives the ball, putting has often been the area of his game which has let him down.
Given his record, Scott clearly has no problems with links golf. He will still feel as though he has unfinished business following his collapse in the 2012 tournament. Scott is a top price of 33/1 to win the Open this year with comparison sites such as Oddschecker also collating various welcome offers, which include a matched opening deposit and risk-free first bet.
Royal Birkdale Set to Be a Strong Test
The last time the Open was played at Royal Birkdale was in 2008 when Irishman Padraig Harrington won the tournament with a winning score of +3. That has been the highest aggregate winning total in an Open over the last few years.
Royal Birkdale should reward those who find the fairways during the four rounds. The players who struggle off the tee will find trouble and are likely to drop shots. The weather will also play its part as a dry week could see the greens run very fast and tricky.
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The course consists of 7,173 yards, in which there are just two par-fives, both of which appear on the back nine. Hole number seven is just 178 yards so just a short chip for the world’s best players. Royal Birkdale will be holding the world’s oldest major for the tenth time later this month and in a recent poll carried out by ESPN, it ranked as the fourth toughest of the courses which are able to host the Open.
Other Australians in the Field
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Jason Day will go into the Open as one of the fancied players to win the tournament, given his world ranking. The former US PGA Championship winner has not been in great form this season, though, and is still bidding for his first victory. Day’s best finish in an Open Championship came in 2015 when he finished the weekend in a tie for fourth place. The Australian held a share of the lead going into the final day, which took place 24 hours later than scheduled due to inclement weather at St Andrew's. He missed out on what would have been a four-way play-off by just one shot as Zach Johnson landed the honours in Scotland. If Day could find a bit of form at Royal Birkdale, he could certainly challenge for the Claret Jug where, if successful, he would be the first Australian since Greg Norman in 1993 to win the event.
Marc Leishman is another player from Australia who has gone close in the past in the Open. The 33-year-old was part of that play-off in 2015, however, he could only score +2 from the extra four holes, which meant he was three shots behind Johnson. Leishman has already been successful this year on the PGA Tour as he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational back in March.
Who are the Leading Contenders This Year?
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World number one Dustin Johnson is the bookmakers’ favourite at 9/1 to win the 2017 Open where the American is looking to add to the US Open he won in 2016 to his CV. The big hitter is a winner of three events so far this season but was forced to miss the US Masters at Augusta due to a back injury. That setback ruled him out of the sport for a number of weeks; however, he is now back to full fitness ahead of his trip to the United Kingdom. Johnson missed the cut in the US Open at Erin Hills last month so will be desperate to make up for what has been a disappointing year so far in the Major Championships.
Rory McIlroy will be popular with fans at Royal Birkdale as they will be hoping the former world number one can provide them with a British winner. McIlroy changed clubs earlier this year and struggled with a rib injury through May. We have yet to see the Northern Irishman hit top form, but he is playing in the Irish Open before his trip to Southport to try and tune his game up for the links test. McIlroy was a comfortable winner of the 2014 Open Championship and has already won three of the four major tournaments, with just the US Masters left to complete the career slam.
Jordan Spieth is another player who will fancy his chances at Royal Birkdale. The 23-year-old won the tenth PGA Tour tournament of his career recently in the Travelers Championship. Where Spieth really excels over some of his rivals at the top of the world rankings is with his short game. When the putter is hot, Spieth rarely missed from under 20 feet, while as we saw in his win in Connecticut, he can be just as good in and around the greens as he chipped in from a bunker in a play-off with Daniel Berger to seal the title.
The 2017 Open Championships begins on July 20 and will run through to July 23 in what will be the 146th edition of the major as 156 players chase the most famous trophy in world golf.