Woods headlines updated Open field
It was a fantastic weekend for Francesco Molinari and Justin Rose as they added new silverware to their trophy cabinets.
But the one they will be dreaming of in July is undoubtedly the Claret Jug as The Open Championship returns to Carnoustie for the first time in 11 years.
And with almost 100 players now confirmed in the field, the buzz is already building.
No discussion of the start list for this year’s Open can begin anywhere other than with a certain Tiger Woods.
Not since he missed the cut at St Andrew’s back in 2015 has the three-time Champion Golfer of the Year teed it up at The Open.
But the 42-year-old has staged a fantastic recovery from injury in 2018 and made his major return at Augusta for the Masters – finishing tied for 32nd.
And with 14 majors already under his belt, Woods’ return to Carnoustie – his exemption guaranteed as a Champion Golfer under the age of 60 when this year’s tournament begins – comes at a fascinating time as he breaks back into the top 100 and continues to improve.
Throw in the reigning Champion Golfer of the Year Jordan Spieth, the world No.1 Justin Thomas, the in-form Rose and returning Rory McIlroy and it will be a veritable who’s who of golf at the Angus course.
RYDER CUP WARM-UP
The most represented country in the 99 players currently confirmed for this year’s Open is unsurprisingly USA.
There are currently 33 Americans teeing it up come Thursday July 19 – a third of the total confirmed and those include Spieth, Thomas, Woods, Dustin Johnson and the new Players Champion Webb Simpson.
Appreciate all the kind notes this week. So thankful to be back in the winners circle. The last few years have been an adventure, but couldn’t be more blessed by the people I get to share in the journey with. Thanks to the @THEPLAYERSChamp and @PGATOUR for a great tournament!— Webb Simpson (@webbsimpson1) May 18, 2018
But in a Ryder Cup year, there is also plenty of reasons to cheer for Team Europe with 34 players qualified.
There are 12 Englishmen confirmed, including the in-form Rose, while three Scots – Sandy Lyle, Paul Lawrie and Scott Jamieson – will carry the support of the home crowd with potentially more to follow.
But it is not just the present and future of the golfing world that will descend on Carnoustie.
The glory of champions past will also be reflected at Carnoustie with every former Champion Golfer of the Year under the age of 60 still exempt.
That means that legends like Mark Calcavecchia, Tom Lehman and David Duval will all be in action alongside Ernie Els, Darren Clarke and John Daly.
More recent champions like Spieth, Henrik Stenson and McIlroy are exempt by world rankings as well as a number of other criteria.
THE BEST OF THE REST
With much of the Open Qualifying Series still to come this summer in advance of Carnoustie – there will be a host of new faces teeing off at the end of July.
Already, the Series has thrown up a number of Open rookies looking to make an impression for the first time.
Chinese amateur Yuxin Lin is one of those making his bow alongside compatriot Li Haotong, who caught the eye at Royal Birkdale last year.
Meanwhile Jazz Janewattananond is one of three Thai golfers already exempt, along with India’s Shubhankar Sharma and Anirban Lahiri.