The greats of the golfing world are about to descend on Carnoustie, a historic golf town located in the northeast of Scotland with a course steeped in history and sporting greatness.
From Hogan’s Alley to playoff drama, Carnoustie has offered it all in its seven staging’s of The Open and as we gear up for the latest chapter in this great links course, we examine who’s best placed to hoist the Claret Jug and be confirmed as Champion Golfer of the Year on Sunday 22 July.
Spieth out to defend
The third major of Jordan Spieth’s career came at Royal Birkdale 12 months ago thanks in no small part to a sensational final-round eagle at the 15th and the 24-year-old will be looking for plenty of joy in northeast Scotland this week.
The current world number six will be in a determined mood, having missed the cut at the US Open at Shinnecock Hills just last month.
But defending the Claret Jug is no small task with Padraig Harrington the last man to win back-to-back in 2007 and 2008.Curiously, those two titles came at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and Carnoustie in 2007 so could history be on the side of the Dallas-born golfer?
Form is key
Like any sport, you want to be in good form heading into a competition but that sentiment couldn’t be truer when tackling a links course such as Carnoustie.
If you’ve already picked up a title in 2018 heading into The Open then you stand a much greater chance of being in contention come Sunday. No fewer than 11 of the past 14 Claret Jug winners picked up another title in the year they became Champion Golfer.
Those figures will certainly be music to the ears of Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed, who have picked up the first two majors of 2018.
It’s been 12 years since Tiger Woods last hoisted the Claret Jug but he returns to Carnoustie in fine fettle and ready for a tilt at the title.
This will be the 14-time major champion’s first appearance at The Open since 2015, where he missed the cut.
The 42-year-old has finished seventh and 12th in his two appearances at Carnoustie in The Open but with Woods looking like a man reborn in 2018, this might be just his year.
Dustin Johnson: with three top-tens to his name at previous Championships, including a tie for second at The Open in 2011, Dustin Johnson will surely feel now is his time. The world number one will be desperate to add to his US Open victory of 2016 at Oakmont.
Justin Rose: despite only having two top-six finishes to his name at The Open, and a Silver Medal, you simply cannot ignore a red-hot Justin Rose. World number three, five top-tens and a win at the Fort Worth Invitational, the elegant Englishman is in the form of his life and in a good position to win the Claret Jug.
Brooks Koepka: With two sensational victories in the last two years at the US Open, Brooks Koepka is another name on everybody’s lips. Defending the US Open crown was a remarkable achievement and his experience on the Challenge and European Tours could give him the edge on this, the grandest of Angus links courses.
Rory McIlroy: if history is anything to go by, then Rory McIlroy will be in firm contention for a second Claret Jug having earned the title of Champion Golfer at Royal Liverpool in 2014. The last two years have seen the Northern Irishman record finishes of fifth and fourth, proving just how classy he can be on a links course.
Such is the stellar line-up that the likes of Jason Day and Justin Thomas are yet to get a mention but Carnoustie has conjured up myriad shocks over the years and with the last three Open Championships played on this course settled by a play-off, we could be in for more exhilarating drama.