Exclusive: We go inside the ropes with The Open hopefuls
The world’s best golfers are gathering on this stretch of Angus Coast to tackle one of the most fabled courses on The Open rota. From contenders to first-timers to those who have surprised themselves to qualify, our team has been finding out their hopes for the week.
There are few more popular golfers than American Rickie Fowler, who four years ago finished in a tie for second at The Open and US Open and a tie for third at the PGA Championship.
He was second again at this year’s Masters but insists being back on a links course is giving him reason for confidence as his seeks that elusive first major.
“I’m feeling really great and my game is in a good sport. I had a decent showing at the Scottish Open.
"I would like to think this is my week, I love links golf and this championship but nothing is a given this week.
"I love being creative with links golf, there’s so many shots you can hit it’s just about picking the right one.”
Matt Kuchar is one of golf’s nicest guys and dubbed ‘Mr Consistency’ for his ability to always be in the mix.
Last year he was edged out in dramatic circumstances by Jordan Spieth, when it appeared one hand was on the Claret Jug. His major record is impressive - but he is still waiting for that first win.
“Last year certainly stung, it was particularly hard having the lead so late. There is no telling how many more chances I'll have.
"It looked like it was my time and then it wasn’t my time again. I’ve still got lots of positive memories from that Open and I know that this style of golf suits my game.”
Former European Tour player James Robinson was focussed on a new career as a PGA professional coach when he decided to play his first competitive tournament in nine months at Regional Qualifying.
He won that event and then came through Final Qualifying at St Annes. He’s enjoyed practice rounds this week with Ian Poulter and Rafael Cabrera-Bello. And is playing with a smile on his face again.
“I did about 20 lessons the day before Regional Qualifying and didn’t really have any expectations.
"I can’t believe the last few weeks. I’ve had nine months off competitive golf and it’s clearly changed my mindset.
“My goal for the week is not to take it too seriously. I want to have fun because the main key to me playing well is to be happy.”
New Zealander Ryan Fox has enjoyed a stellar couple of weeks on the European Tour.
He tied for sixth at the Scottish Open and was edged out in a play-off by Russell Knox in the Irish Open.
“My last few weeks couldn’t have been better really, unless I’d managed to get a win across the line.
"I love the challenge of links golf and it really suits my style of game. I love the imagination that you need and the range of shots you get to play.
"I’ve been in contention two weeks in a row and I’m in a pretty good place with my golf.”
Two-time European Tour winner Li Haotong made his big breakthrough with a final-round 63 at Royal Birkdale last year, which secured the Chinese golfer third place at The Open behind Spieth and Kuchar.
“I was quite close last year and that gives me real confidence. I’ve got a new two iron in the bag and you're going to see me playing a lot of low shots this week.
“It’s pretty hard to find this kind of course in China but this is my second Open and I’m enjoying it.”
Russell Knox is the big hope for the home galleries at Carnoustie and his win at the Irish Open has been rewarded with a first and second round tee-off time with three-time Champion Golfer Tiger Woods.
“The last few weeks have been amazing but I don’t feel any added expectation. I’ve ticked a lot of the boxes I had and this is just a massive reward and getting to play with Tiger Woods for a couple of days will be a dream come true.
“Tiger is my hero, I love that guy. He changed golf for everyone and it will be a special experience.”
Nicknamed Jazzy J, Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond is enjoying his return to Carnoustie.
He was here ten years ago after playing in the Junior Open, watching Padraig Harrington defeat Sergio Garcia in a play-off to lift the Claret Jug.
“I hope the sun shines because I need the heat, I come from the hottest country on earth. I’m really excited and nervous to finally get to play.”
Amateur Champion Jovan Rebula is one of four players contesting the Silver Medal and admits the experience of his first major is taking some getting used to.
“The course is extremely firm and if the wind blows it will be very testing conditions. But lots of guys will be taking advantage and hopefully I can too.
"I can’t describe how it feels to be here, it’s not completely like a reality yet and I’m just cherishing every moment.”
TheOpen.com is the only place to get all the latest news from The 147th Open at Carnoustie. This time next year, The Open will return to Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years.
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