Australian octet out to end quarter-century drought
The prevailing wisdom is that a canny player with plenty of links experience will triumph at Carnoustie this week, which bodes rather nicely for the chances of a first Australian winner in 25 years.
The Land Down Under is an intrinsic part of The Open’s history – nine times the Claret Jug has been lifted by one of the country’s four Champion Golfers but the last of those was Greg Norman’s triumph in 1993.
There are eight Australians in the field this year and with nine top-ten Open finishes between them, they certainly tick the experience box.
Marc Leishman has finished tied-fifth, tied-second and tied-sixth in the last four years and although he’s a Carnoustie rookie, the 34-year-old is up for the challenge as he targets further Open success.
“The last four years have been pretty kind to me in the Open, so I’m excited to be back here again and hopefully I can keep that trend going,” said world No.18 Leishman.
“I’m learning a lot about this golf course over the last couple of days of practice. I haven’t seen the course before but it’s great.
“It is tough – good shots are rewarded and bad shots are punished, which is the sign of a good course.
“Club selection off the tee is the toughest challenge. With the ball running so far, you’ve got to be careful not to get to the fairway bunkers because they’re basically a one-shot penalty.
“You have to be smart and your long irons will have to be good because you’ll be hitting a lot of those into the greens. There’s a couple of holes you can attack but for the most part, it’s about being pretty conservative off the tee.”
Scott brings a legend out of retirement
Adam Scott’s Open record is even more impressive than his compatriot Leishman’s. Tied-eighth in 2006 and then four consecutive top-tens from 2012 to 2015, with The 2012 Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes the closest he came to winning a Claret Jug.
He was four shots up with four holes to play, only to bogey them all and miss out to Ernie Els by a stroke, although his majors pain was finally eased when he pulled on the Green Jacket at the 2013 Masters.
The 38-year-old won’t lack for local knowledge, having been at Carnoustie for three weeks preparing, and he has also brought Fanny Sunesson – who was Nick Faldo’s caddie for four major victories in the 1990s – out of retirement to man the bag for him.
Will it be Jason’s Day?
Scott is pulling out all the stops to recapture his best form, while former world No.1 Jason Day is also desperate to improve on a best Open finish of tied-fourth from 2015.
The 30-year-old has 16 professional wins, including the 2015 PGA Championship, to his name and is a legitimate contender every time he steps on to the course.
Also competing under the Australian flag are 40-year-old Brett Rumford, debutants Cameron Davis and Lucas Herbert, 30th-place finisher at The 2015 Open Matt Jones and 2017 Australian PGA Championship winner Cameron Smith.
The Aussies are coming to Carnoustie and a quarter-century drought might just be about to end.
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