British Open Championship
Starting Thursday, the 151st British Open will play again for the legendary Claret Jug trophy and $16.5 million in prize money. With the exception of Tiger Woods, everyone with an affinity for golf has a home at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England. Bookmakers and the media attribute the role of favorite to Rory McIlroy, who recently won the Scottish Open. Austria’s contribution is Sepp Straka, who also arrived with a win under his belt.
Ten days ago, the 30-year-old won his second PGA title by winning the John Deere Classic, and last week he used to prepare for his second participation in the world’s oldest tournament. Straka had just missed the cut at its premiere in St Andrews, Scotland last year. The Viennese, who finished seventh at the PGA Championship in May, the best major score ever achieved by the Austrian, now wants to overcome that hurdle.
But the task on the starting field of 156 is not the easiest. Nestled in the dunes, Route 71 west of Liverpool is challenging and a prime example of a links course: windswept, rugged, deep sand bunkers and narrow, jagged fairways that punish any mistake. The British Open was last held here in 2014. The victory went to 25-year-old McIlroy.
“There are some things I remember. It’s good to go out there and get to know him again,” said the Northern Irishman, who is in good shape. “When I see how I played last week and managed to control my ball in difficult conditions, I had a good feeling coming in this week.”
McIlroy starts in a glistening circle
In the first two rounds, McElroy had a stellar ride with Spanish Masters champion John Ramm and former pole position Justin Rose. Ram is one of the favourites, as is world number one Scotty Scheffler of the USA. The defending champion is Cameron Smith, who switched to the LIV Series shortly after winning last year.
The Australian brought back the Clarets pitcher as usual at the start of the week and was somewhat emotional about it. “I hope I can bring it back. I really want that thing back,” the 29-year-old said of the silver wine jug. “I told all my friends, it’s only a week and we’ll drink from it again.” After all, the winner will receive three million dollars.
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