Who's hot, who's not
Some players will bring ample momentum with them to Royal Birkdale, while other big names will be looking to spark a turnaround.
The summer season is in full swing as 156 players get set to head to the English coast to battle for golf’s oldest major.
And while someone will inevitably surprise by contending without much recent form to speak of, the majority of players will look to make the trek to Royal Birkdale with a little momentum on their side.
Here’s a look at who’s hot with the 146th Open quickly approaching – and who needs to turn things around in a hurry:
PGA Tour season: Six top-10 finishes in 12 starts, including three wins
Open record: Three top-10 finishes in eight starts, including T-2 in 2011
Outlook: Despite a freak back injury that led him to withdraw from the Masters, Johnson has been the best player in the world for most of 2017. His three wins came in successive starts, and he leads the PGA Tour in driving distance, GIR percentage and total strokes gained.
PGA Tour season: Seven top-10 finishes in 16 starts, including two wins
Open record: One top-10 finish in four starts (T-4 in 2015)
Outlook: Spieth had somewhat of a rocky spring, with three missed cuts in a five-event stretch, but he appears to have found his groove. A runner-up at Colonial was followed by a T-13 finish at Memorial, and Spieth followed a strong final round at the U.S. Open with a memorable playoff victory at the Travelers Championship.
PGA Tour season: Seven top-10 finishes in 16 starts, including one win
Open record: T-59 in his lone appearance (2016)
Outlook: Rahm missed the cut at the U.S. Open, but that served as only a blip amid an otherwise stellar debut season. His breakthrough win at Torrey Pines was followed by a pair of runner-up finishes as the Spaniard reached the OWGR top 10 less than one year after turning pro.
PGA Tour season: Three top-10 finishes in seven starts, including a runner-up
Open record: Missed cuts in three prior appearances (2014-16)
Outlook: After starting the year ranked No. 99 in the world, Fleetwood now finds himself on the cusp of the top 20. A runner-up finish to Johnson at the WGC-Mexico Championship serves as his PGA Tour highlight, but he also won in Abu Dhabi and was solo fourth at Erin Hills. As a Southport native, he’ll also be playing a de facto home game at Royal Birkdale with plenty of fan support.
PGA Tour season: Two top-10 finishes in 11 starts, including one win
Open record: 10 top-10 finishes in 20 starts, including playoff loss (2007) and T-2 (2014)
Outlook: The burden Garcia shed with his win at the Masters appeared palpable. Now a major champ at age 37, the Spaniard has played loose and free in the months since, including a T-2 finish at the BMW International Open. He also won in Dubai in February and has been a perennial contender at The Open.
PGA Tour season: Four top-10 finishes in eight starts, including two T-4 finishes
Open record: Three top-10 finishes in eight starts, including a win (2014)
Outlook: McIlroy has somewhat struggled to get on track for much of the year because of a nagging rib injury, and the few competitive rounds he has played have been noted for constant equipment change. His latest indecision focused on the greens, as McIlroy used three different putters during the Travelers Championship where he struggled before salvaging the week with a final-round 64. His ceiling remains high, but it’s been a while since he reached it consistently.
PGA Tour season: Two top-10 finishes in 13 starts, including a playoff loss
Open record: One top-10 finish in six starts (T-4 in 2015)
Outlook: After winning a major in 2015 and reaching No. 1 in 2016, Day has had trouble getting off the ground this year. His playoff loss at the AT&T Byron Nelson serves as his lone top-10 over his last nine starts, and he ballooned to an opening 79 en route to a missed cut at the U.S. Open. His win at TPC Sawgrass in 2016 remains his most recent worldwide victory.
PGA Tour season: One top-10 finish in 15 starts
Open record: Two made cuts in four appearances, including T-26 in 2014
Outlook: The reigning PGA champ broke through to win at Baltusrol, but little has gone his way in the 11 months since. Walker revealed in April that he has been slowed for months by what turned out to be Lyme Disease, and his T-9 finish at the limited-field Tournament of Champions remains his only top-10 finish since early September.
PGA Tour season: No top-10 finishes in eight starts (best T-39)
Open record: One top-10 finish in five starts (T-6 in 2015)
Outlook: Willett has flashed little form to speak of since donning the green jacket last spring, and is now on the brink of falling outside the top 40 in the world rankings after starting the year at No. 11. The Englishman has only cracked the top 50 once in a stroke-play event this year, and he withdrew after high first-round scores at both The Players Championship and U.S. Open because of a back injury.
PGA Tour season:
Open record: Four made cuts in eight appearances, including T-23 in 2012
Outlook: Watson has largely mirrored Willett’s slide this year, dropping from No. 10 in January to No. 41. The southpaw’s tee-to-green stats have suffered this season, and he missed the cut at familiar haunts like Riviera, Augusta National and TPC River Highlands. Watson hasn’t cracked the top 5 in any event since the 2016 WGC-Cadillac Championship, a drought of 30 starts.