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The 151st Open

The 151st Open


Things to look out for on Day One

Jon Rahm

After years of preparation, months of build-up and four days of practice, The 151st Open is finally here.

One hundred and fifty six players will wake up hoping Thursday is the first step on their journey to the Claret Jug, and with the weather set to stay mostly dry, conditions should be perfect at one of the finest links courses in the world.

From 6.35am through to approximately 9.30pm, the world’s finest will take on all that Royal Liverpool has to offer.

And here’s what you need to watch out for.

Rory v Rahm v Rose

The marquee group of the first day is on the first tee at 2:59pm but there’s no doubt it will be worth the wait.

Rory McIlroy, the last man to win The Open at Royal Liverpool in 2014 and the newly-crowned Genesis Scottish Open champion, headlines a three-ball that also contains reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm and 2013 US Open winner Justin Rose.

Rory McIlroy during a practice round ahead of The 151st Open at Royal Liverpool

McIlroy has not won a major in nine years but has come close on so many occasions since, including at St Andrews last year when he led for 10 holes on the final day before Cameron Smith stormed past him.

He likes the course, has happy memories of winning here and is in prime form, so expect another run at the Claret Jug again.

Rahm is inspired by his compatriot and newly-crowned Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz as he looks to become just the second Spaniard to win The Open – after the great Seve Ballesteros - while Rose has three top-10 finishes and is confident of a charge.

Jordan’s first shot An early alarm is needed to catch Matthew Jordan hit the first shot, but expect packed stands for the big moment.

The local boy has played Hoylake more times than anyone else in the field, and followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather by becoming a member at the age of just seven.

The 27-year-old, playing alongside Richie Ramsay and Branden Grace, is confident of shooting a low score, describing the course as playing kinder due to the recent wet weather.

Can he make a strong start and lay down a marker? Tune in from 6:35am.

England’s charge for a Champion

It is 54 years since Tony Jacklin won The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes, but the two-time major winner remains the last Englishman to lift the Claret Jug on an English course.

There are no shortage of contenders hoping to emulate Jacklin, including local Tommy Fleetwood – born 30 miles north of Hoylake in Southport. Like Jordan, he will have a vocal local crowd, and he has form at golf’s original major having finished second to Shane Lowry in 2019 and T4 last year.

Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton and Rose are among the other strong contenders this week.

The big-name power hour

Whether you are a spectator at the course or a fan following from home, there are a stream of special players teeing off between 9 and 10:15am on Thursday morning.

Jordan Spieth, Matt Fitzpatrick and Jason Day kick-start it at 9:03am, with Spieth chasing his second Claret Jug on Merseyside following his 2017 success 30 miles up the coast at Royal Birkdale.

US PGA champion Brooks Koepka tees off at 9:36am alongside Patrick Cantlay and Hideki Matsuyama, while a big crowd will be following the 9:47am group that includes Fleetwood, Scottie Scheffler and Australia’s Adam Scott.

Shane Lowry, the man who beat Fleetwood to the Claret Jug in 2019, joins Rickie Fowler and Robert MacIntyre at 10:09am.

Little Eye

One hole in particular looks set to be the centre of attention when the world's best start on Thursday.

The Hoylake links has undergone multiple changes since it last hosted golf's original Championship in 2014, including significant alterations to the par-5 18th.

However, the standout development is undoubtedly the creation of a brand-new par-3, which will play as the 17th in The Open.

The 17th, known as 'Little Eye', will play a crucial role in deciding the destination of The Claret Jug

Named 'Little Eye' in honour of the small island in the Dee Estuary that can be seen in the distance behind the green, the picturesque short hole promises to provide plenty of drama.

Cameron Smith and Brooks Koepka are among the players to wax lyrical about the new hole, and it will play a major role come Sunday.

Race for the Silver Medal

One of the highlights at every Open, the Silver Medal has six contenders this year.

At 6’ 8’’, South Africa’s Christo Lamprecht stood tall at Hillside to triumph in The Amateur Championship last month – helped by his prodigious driving – and he leads the field.

Ireland’s Alex Maguire has already been turning heads, thanks in no small part to his dad Sean shedding a tear on Live at The Range on Monday, and the Liverpool fan from across the Irish Sea is confident of a strong week.

Australia’s Harrison Crowe, the Asia-Pacific Amateur champion, Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira from Argentina, the Latin America Amateur winner, and Jose Luis Ballester Barrio of Spain, the European Amateur victor, also take their places at Hoylake.

Which brother will come out on top?

Whatever happens this week, The 151st Open will be special for the Fitzpatrick and Hojgaard families – with sets of brothers set to tee it up with Royal Liverpool.

The Fitzpatrick brothers during a practice round ahead of The 151st Open at Royal Liverpool

Matt and Alex Fitzpatrick are staying near the course together with parents Russell and Sue, while Rasmus and twin Nicolai are also set to play in their first Open together.

Look out for family snaps on the 18th green, but like any brothers the competitive spirit will shine through and there will no doubt be extra motivation to shoot the lower round.

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