In Review

The Open 2019: predictions, betting odds and TV guide

Rory McIlroy is favourite to win the golf major on home soil

148th Open Championship

  • When: 18 July-21 July  
  • Where: Royal Portrush, County Antrim
  • Start time: 6.35am on Thursday
  • How to watch it: live on Sky Sports and highlights on the BBC

Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland hosts The Open for the first time since 1951, and is the only course outside England and Scotland to have hosted the event.

Local golfer Darren Clarke, who won the 2011 Open, will hit the first ball at 6.35am on Thursday – but it is another Northern Irishman, Rory McIlroy, who is the focus of the much of the attention in the build-up.

“History suggests something special will occur in County Antrim this week as the Open ventures outside Scotland or England for only the second time,” says Iain Carter of the BBC.

“And nothing would cap its return better than a victory for the finest golfer Northern Ireland has ever produced. Where better for McIlroy to end a five-year barren run and add a fifth major to his resume?”

While all eyes will be on McIlroy, Tiger Woods has attracted plenty of attention for his approach to the tournament. He has admitted that he can no longer play every tournament, and he has played only three events since the end of March.

“He has arrived at Royal Portrush without having competed since the US Open almost exactly one month ago. Instead, he had a two-week holiday with his children, mother and girlfriend in Thailand,” notes The Times.

His practice rounds looked “desultory” says the paper. “On the eve of Woods’s 21st Open, his preparations are not as comprehensive as they used to be. A performance such as in last year’s Open at Carnoustie, where he led briefly in the last round and finished sixth, is surely beyond even his powers.”

What’s the course like?

“The Dunluce course at Portrush usually plays as a par-72 for the members, but at the Open two par fives will be converted to stiff par fours and the course will play to a par of 70,” says The Daily Telegraph. “It is a classic links layout designed by Harry Colt who also designed Wentworth's West course in its original form.”

The course has been “transformed” by club secretary and manager Wilma Erskine, who has been in charge for the past 35 years, says The Times.

In the mid-1980s when she became one of the few women to take charge of a golf club she had her work cut out. “The course was a mess, the clubhouse was decrepit, the membership was shrinking. The north Antrim course had a legendary name, but its reality was grim.

“Little by little, she turned things around. The course was tidied up. The clubhouse was given a makeover, and eventually rebuilt.

“After years of steady decline, the membership began to grow again. As political tensions eased, visitor numbers went up too. News travelled and Portrush started to climb back up the rankings of the world’s best courses.”

The most recent changes involved the removal of the old 17th and 18th holes, which have been sacrificed for tournament facilities. In their place are two new holes, seven and eight, taken from an adjacent course.

Selected first-round tee times
  • 06.35: Clarke (N Irl), Sugrue (Irl), Hoffman (USA) 
  • 09.58: Molinari (It), DeChambeau (US), Scott (Aus) 
  • 10.09: McIlroy (N Irl), Casey (Eng), Woodland (US) 
  • 13.04: Koepka (US), Oosthuizen (SA), Sharma (India) 
  • 15.10: Woods (US), Wallace (Eng), Reed (US)
Francesco Molinari celebrates with the Claret Jug after winning The Open at Carnoustie in 2018

Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Betting odds

Prices according to Oddschecker, as of 18 July.

  • Rory McIlroy: 17/2
  • Brooks Koepka: 11/1 
  • Jon Rahm: 14/1 
  • Dustin Johnson: 18/1 
  • Tiger Woods: 23/1 
  • Justin Rose: 25/1
  • Xander Schauffele: 25/1 
  • Adam Scott: 28/1 
  • Henrik Stenson: 28/1 
  • Patrick Cantlay: 28/1  
  • Francesco Molinari: 30/1 
  • Tommy Fleetwood: 30/1

Predictions: who will win at Royal Portrush?

Cody Williams, Fansided: Rory McIlroy

“McIlroy has been great in majors this year, tying for 21st at The Masters, tying for eighth at the PGA Championship and tying for ninth at the US Open. And if that weren’t enough, his last four finishes at The Open have been a win in 2014 (sat out the next year due to injury), tied-fifth in 2016, tied-fourth in 2017 and tied-second last year. The hype, the spotlight and the moment won’t be too much this week for McIlroy. He steps up in this massive moment and gets the job done on his home turf.”

Joe Tansey, Bleacher Report: Rory McIlroy

“Rory McIlroy has gone close to five years without winning a major, but everything appears to be lining up in his favour to win The Open Championship. The four-time major champion enters the event on home soil off four rounds in the 60s at the Scottish Open. Although he ended up in a tie for 34th at the warm-up competition, the four scores he put up could be indicative of the numbers he produces at Royal Portrush. Given McIlroy’s recent form and the chance to win a major in his home country, we expect him to be in contention for the Claret Jug come Sunday.”

The Daily Telegraph: Brooks Koepka

“Koepka, McIlroy and Johnson are worthy favourites and, with frightening levels of expectation on McIlroy playing in Northern Ireland, Koepka is the most likely to prevail. His caddie Ricky Elliott is also a Portrush native, which could be crucial in compensating for a perceived lack of links experience.”

PGA Tour Caddie, Golf Digest: Tiger Woods 

“Whoever wins this week will be a wizard at controlling the flight of their shots, particularly iron shots. With the course’s firmness, downwind holes will be hard to stop balls on the greens, and back into the heavy ocean air, the into-the-wind holes will play long. Trajectory control is a must. Height downwind to stop the balls and well-controlled flat shots into the wind. A lot of holes will play, with the prevailing winds, straight down or straight in. So controlling your height and launch angle is crucial. The master of this is also happens to be the 2019 Masters champion. Yes, Tiger’s my pick to win because he’s still the best in the world at doing all the things I’ve described.”

Golf Digest editors: Jon Rahm

“There are some very intriguing trends in Jon Rahm’s favour this week, the first of course being his play of late. We all saw his final-round 62 that won him his second Irish Open, which feels like a precursor to a maiden major victory this week. The young Spaniard, who now must feel like a veteran, has had arguably his best season as a professional, beginning with a Hero World Challenge victory in December and potentially culminating in a raising of the claret jug this Sunday at Royal Portrush. He has had nine other top-10s worldwide, two of which came at the Masters and the US Open.”

The Open TV guide

Sky Sports will show live coverage from Royal Portrush while the BBC will show highlights.

Sky Sports coverage
  • Thursday 18 July: 6.30am to 9.30pm - The Open live  
  • Friday 19 July: 6.30am to 9.30pm - The Open live  
  • Saturday 20 July: 9am to 9pm - The Open live  
  • Sunday 21 July: 8am to 8.30pm - The Open live
BBC coverage
  • Thursday 18 July: 8pm to 10pm - highlights on BBC Two  
  • Friday 19 July: 8.30pm to 10.30pm - highlights on BBC Two  
  • Saturday 20 July: 8pm to 10pm - highlights on BBC Two  
  • Sunday 21 July: 8pm to 10pm - highlights on BBC Two 

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