The Open Championship returns to Royal Liverpool later this month, with the British major teeing off at the Merseyside course on July 20 before concluding four days later on July 23. It’s the first time the tournament will be back at Holylake since Rory McIlroy lifted the Claret Jug on the 18th green in 2014 and the Northern Irishman is tipped to regain his title in the northwest, according to the Open Championship odds.
The majors are incredibly hard to predict, however. Brooks Koepka’s surprise return to prominence at the PGA Championship and the little-known Wyndham Clark pipping the likes of McIlroy and World No.1 Scottie Scheffler to win the recent renewal of the US Open at the Los Angeles Country Club last month are further proof of that.
With the added variables of a links course to consider, including the adverse weather conditions and unique characteristics of the holes, The Open could well produce another outside winner and there will be a whole host of players hoping to seize the moment and land their first major at Royal Liverpool. Let’s take a look at some of those who could potentially lose their maiden tag.
Rickie Fowler – 33/1
It’s hard to believe that Rickie Fowler hasn’t won a major thus far in his career. The American burst onto the scene in the early 2010s and his exuberant dress sense wasn’t the only thing that made pundits and fans alike sit up and take notice of this up-and-coming star.
Fowler was tipped to become the main rival to McIlroy, who had made a name for himself by winning four major titles in the space of three years between 2011 and 2014, and he was living up to expectations as he finished tied for second in the US Open and The Open and T3 in the PGA Championship in 2014.
Nine years on though and the now 34-year-old is still on the hunt for his maiden major. It looked like the duck might have been broken at the LA-based US Open last month as he led at the top of the leaderboard at the close of play after each of the first three rounds, but he shot +5 on the final day to drop back to fifth.
Fowler was just two strokes behind McIlroy when The Open was last played at Royal Liverpool and if he can rediscover that form back in Merseyside and play the same golf he displayed over the first 54 holes at the US Open, he could be in contention once again.
Viktor Hovland – 20/1
Viktor Hovland has been one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour this season, making the cut in all 18 of the events he has taken part in at the time of writing — recording seven top-10 finishes, one runner-up finish and a first victory of the year in the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Cup last month, beating Denny McCarthy in a playoff.
That level of consistency has also been on display at the majors, as the Norwegian finished T4 at last year’s Open before respectable T7 and T2 finishes at the Masters and the PGA Championship — where he was beaten by just two strokes by Koepka — to start the year.
Hovland’s form has slipped a bit as he was 19th and 10 shots off the lead at the US Open and T29 at the Travelers Championship, but he is knocking on the door of the majors and it seems only a matter of time before he gets his hands on one.
Xander Schauffele – 20/1
While Hovland has become a constant threat in the sport’s big four tournaments over the last year or so, Xander Schauffele is proof that that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is guaranteed to win one anytime soon on consistency alone.
The American is making a name for himself as something of a nearly man as he has recorded 11 top-10 finishes in the major championships since making his first appearance in 2017. To add to that, in six of those 11 tournaments, the current World No.6 has incredibly featured in the top five.
The fact he won Olympic Gold in the men’s individual golf competition in 2021 is evidence that he can get over the line on the biggest stages, but the weight on his shoulders is only going to get heavier as time ticks on. There is cause for concern ahead of The Open too, as he is yet to even finish in the top 10 in the British major.