The Open News
The 148th Open
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The numbers behind the exempt players at Royal Portrush
Tiger Woods

With as many as 50 events in one season, competing on the PGA Tour and European Tour can be a hard slog.

But get into the top 30 on either order of merit at the end of the campaign and there is a magnificent prize – a guaranteed spot at The Open.

That awaits up to 60 players every year and some of the best in the world have already assured their place at Royal Portrush in July, from Justin Rose to Tommy Fleetwood and Dustin Johnson to Patrick Reed.

So let’s take a look at some of the numbers behind the players who have already secured their spot at Royal Portrush:

As always, a lot of attention will focus on Tiger Woods and the American is chasing his fourth Claret Jug this summer on his first visit to the Dunluce Course.

At three, he already has more than any other current player but Woods last won The Open in 2006 at Royal Liverpool.

Woods finished behind Justin Rose on the PGA Tour last season and Rose is aiming to become the first number one since Padraig Harrington to go on and lift the Claret Jug. 

But like everyone else, they are hoping to wrestle the trophy off Champion Golfer of the Year Francesco Molinari – who finished top of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

Molinari is fighting recent history, with Harrington the last player to successfully defend the Claret Jug in 2008.

Scotland has also been waiting for a while for another Claret Jug winner and 2019 marks 20 years since Paul Lawrie saw off Jean van de Velde and Justin Leonard in a play-off at Carnoustie – making this a timely Open for Scotland’s Russell Knox to make a run at the trophy.

American Dustin Johnson will also feel it’s about time he collected the Claret Jug. The 2011 joint runner-up will celebrate a decade since his Open debut this summer and will have played on every course on the current Open rota.

Lee Westwood is also bringing up a milestone, having qualified from the European Tour yet again. The Englishman, who has 18 major top-ten finishes, will appear at his 25th consecutive Open, where he will hope to improve on a second-place finish in 2010.

Westwood boasts four top-five finishes at The Open, one less than Sergio Garcia – the popular Spaniard, who has twice finished runner-up.

Garcia, who qualified through the European Tour, is aiming to become just Spain’s second Champion Golfer after Seve Ballesteros – who claimed the first of his three titles 40 years ago at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

But Spain has not had to wait as long for a winner as Northern Ireland has to host The Open and the locals will be gunning for a home Champion Golfer.

Luckily, in Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy, there are two to support and both are hoping to become the 28th multiple champion in Open history.

Phil Mickelson, back on form on the PGA Tour, is also aiming to join that club and the left-handed American is teeing it up in his 26th Open this year, while several of his compatriots are chasing a first Claret Jug.

They include former world number one Justin Thomas – who has made the cut just once in three Open appearances – and Brooks Koepka, whose caddy Rickie Elliott hails from Portrush.

Australian Jason Day, also a former world number one, has not missed the cut in eight attempts at The Open, while Spain’s Adrian Otaegui would love to have that record as he prepares for his maiden Open.

As he will quickly learn, it is all about the numbers.

EXEMPT PLAYERS:

EUROPEAN TOUR

Francesco Molinari

Patrick Reed

Tommy Fleetwood

Xander Schauffele

Justin Rose

Alex Noren

Rory McIlroy

Thorbjorn Olesen

Haotong Li

Matt Wallace

Jon Rahm

Tyrrell Hatton

Lucas Bjerregaard

Eddie Pepperell

Kiradech Aphibarnrat

Russell Knox

Lee Westwood

Sergio Garcia

Alexander Bjork

Danny Willett

Rafa Cabrera Bello

Ryan Fox

Adrian Otaegui

Matthew Fitzpatrick

Brandon Stone

Jorge Campillo

Thomas Pieters

Shubhankar Sharma

Andy Sullivan

Alexander Levy

PGA TOUR:

Justin Rose

Tiger Woods

Bryson DeChambeau

Dustin Johnson

Billy Horschel

Tony Finau

Justin Thomas

Keegan Bradley

Brooks Koepka

Bubba Watson

Webb Simpson

Cameron Smith

Hideki Matsuyama

Rory McIlroy

Xander Schauffele

Jason Day

Rickie Fowler

Francesco Molinari

Tommy Fleetwood

Patrick Cantlay

Phil Mickelson

Patrick Reed

Jon Rahm

Aaron Wise

Paul Casey

Gary Woodland

Kyle Stanley

Kevin Na

Marc Leishman

Patton Kizzire