Our quick guide to the six Australians playing The Open at Royal Portrush this week.
Six Australians tee it up in the 156-man Open championship this week at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. It will be just the second time The Open has been held in Northern Ireland; the last time was in 1951 when Max Faulkner won at Royal Portrush.
The return to Royal Portrush, some 67 years later means that much of the field are not familiar with the golf course. At least not in the way Rory McIlroy is for instance who grew up nearby and shot a course record 61 when he was just 16. As Nike have highlighted in a recent commercial.
Many golfers have spent a large amount of time out on the links of Portrish to familiarize themselves with the wonderful, testing layout. Adam Scott, for example has been at Royal Portrush for over a week now, opting to plot his course of action on-site rather than warm-up through tournament golf.
Planning, rather than playing tournament golf is something nearly all of the six Australians have opted for this week – and the results come Sunday may prove if this preparation was the right one.
In his eight starts at The Open, Jason Day has just the one top-10 finish – at St.Andrews in 2015. But in the three events since, Day has recorded solid finishes of T22, T27, T17. Not out of it, but not contending either.
Day’s build-up to this Open has been promising without being electric and will benefit from the experience of Steve Williams on the bag. Always a chance on the big stage.
If there is one aspect to Royal Portrush that suits Marc Leishman’s game, it’s his ability to shape the ball in both directions. Especially off the tee.
A T21 at the Travelers Championship after an ‘ok’ US Open has us thinking Leishman is returning to form. If Leishman can conjure some of the bitter taste of the 2015 Open playoff loss and a favourable side of the weather draw, look out.
Since four consecutive top-10s through 2012-15, Scott has had similar results to Jason Day at The Open. Thereabouts, but not knocking on the victory door.
Embedded at Portrush for over a week now and without a playing tournament since the US Open a month ago, we do wonder if Scotty hasn’t played enough competitive golf. But in his five tournaments since (and including) The Masters, Scott hasn’t finished worse than T18 inc three top-10s. How good would it be to see Adam Scott chasing down the Claret Jug again on Sunday?
Just the two forgettable Open’s for Smith so far (MC, 70th) and arrives at Portrush fighting a form slump including three missed-cuts in his last six tournaments.
While still possessing a top-notch short game, Smith’s driver has been the issue this season. Strighten it out or find a go-to shot off the tee to set up better approach shots is Smith’s game this week.
At 24-years, Jake McLeod will tee up in his first major at Royal Portrush this week thanks to a stunning final round to finish third at The Australian Open.
McLeod has been learning the way around championship links courses with starts at the Irish and Scottish Opens. And while both have resulted in missed cuts, McLeod’s 1-iron may be a secret weapon under the winds at Portrush this week.
Papadatos finished one better than McLeod at The Australian Open to also earn a spot in his first major championship. Papadatos has struggled to make a cut since his fantastic T15 at the British Masters in May.
Like McLeod the talent is there. Perhaps the big occasion may bring it to the fore this week.