Six things to look out for on the final day of practice
Ellis looking to follow in Rose’s footsteps
It’s impossible not to look around Royal Birkdale and not be reminded of Justin Rose’s heroics as an amateur back in 1998.
Images of the Englishman holing out on the 18th are plastered all over the clubhouse and the course, but one man that will have taken special notice is Harry Ellis.
The current Amateur Champion went out with the Olympic gold medallist this morning at 8.30am, and you can be sure getting the low-down on Rose’s performance in 1998 will be on the agenda for Ellis.
The 21-year-old has his sights set on the Silver Medal at the very least, but if he can produce a similar showing to Rose in 1998 he will write himself into Open folklore.
Weather starting to turn
For the first time at Royal Birkdale this week, it seems proper ‘Open weather’ is upon us.
Walking onto the links this morning, the clear blue skies seen on Monday and Tuesday have been replaced by the sound of flags fluttering and ominous-looking clouds overhead.
There’s a flurry of activity on the first tee, with players looking to get out on the course while conditions are similar to those expected later in the week.
The two amigos
Jon Rahm spent a lot of time in yesterday’s media session talking about his hero Seve Ballesteros.
Today he plays with another one of his idols in Masters champion Sergio Garcia, and the duo are certain to draw a big gallery at 9.30am.
Rahm got tongues wagging yesterday with his second shot to the par-five 17th hole – a monster fairway wood that came to rest just a foot from the pin – that was reminiscent of Pádraig Harrington’s effort that clinched him the Claret Jug in 2008.
He and Garcia go off with Sebastian Munoz and the wonderfully-named American amateur Maverick McNealy.
Will anyone else take on the 5th?
Justin Thomas took aim at the 346-yard par four 5th yesterday and fired.
Playing with Rahm, Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth it takes a lot to steal the show, but in this instance the 24-year-old from Kentucky delivered the goods.
With his playing partners safely in the middle of the fairway, at least 100 yards back, Thomas slammed a drive right into the heart of the green, with the ball ultimately rolling off the back.
It will be interesting to see if anyone takes on this hole again in practise today. Thomas – a two-time winner this year – already has the shot in his locker should he need it on Saturday or Sunday.
Local hero getting ready for biggest challenge yet
Romantic golf fans will surely be supporting Southport local Tommy Fleetwood this week as he goes in search of his first major title.
The 26-year-old has never made the cut at The Open, but finds himself thrust into the spotlight this week as one of the favourites, thanks to both his good form (he won the French Open at the start of the month) and a bit of local knowledge.
He goes off with fellow Englishman Laurie Canter, as well as South Africa’s Branden Grace and 2009 Open champion Stewart Cink, in a group that will certainly attract one of the biggest galleries of the day.
There were plenty of Fleetwood banners on display in Monday’s practise, and his face is up all over Southport town centre. How will local fans show their support today?
How hard is No.6 playing?
Expect to see most of the players taking a bit of extra time chipping and putting on the 6th green.
With a narrow landing area guarded by two pot bunkers and one of the narrowest greens out there guarded by three more, the 6th is ranked as the hardest hole on the course.
And it certainly plays true to form. At the 2008 Open, it was not only the hardest hole at Royal Birkdale, but also the hardest hole on the entire Tour that year.
The average score was 4.764 and only ten birdies were made all week. Practise rounds are generally full of fun for the pros, but most will knuckle down and focus on this one today.