The Open Championship 2018: everything you need to know
Can Europe’s top golfers stop another American major win at Carnoustie?
On 19 July, The Open will return to Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland for the first time since 2007 – and with the Ryder Cup in the offing, the top European and American golfers will be under even more scrutiny than usual.
After Patrick Reed’s victory at the Masters and Brooks Koepka’s US Open success, it will be the American stars who start The 147th Open Championship, the third of the season’s four majors, as favourites. Defending champion Jordan Spieth will hope to follow Koepka’s lead and go back-to-back in the same major, while world No.1 Dustin Johnson will also be one to watch.
The European charge will be led by 2016 winner Henrik Stenson of Sweden and 2014 champion Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland (below), while the current Race to Dubai champion, England’s Tommy Fleetwood, will hope to go one better after losing out to Koepka by one shot at the US Open in June.
As for the rest of the world, Australia’s Jason Day and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama will seek to become the first non-European and non-American to win the Claret Jug since South Africa’s Ernie Els in 2012.
‘Toughest course in Britain’
Carnoustie - and the Scottish weather – will, as usual, provide a huge challenge to golf’s elite. When asked to describe Carnoustie, Sir Michael Bonallack once said: “When the wind is blowing, it is the toughest course in Britain. And when it’s not blowing, it’s probably still the toughest.”
Judging by the past Open Championships to be held at Carnoustie, fans and players could also be in for a long final round on Sunday 22 July. “Each of the last three Opens held at the Angus links have concluded with a play-off,” says the tournament’s official website.
The 2018 Open Championship guide
What: The 147th Open Championship is the third of four golf majors in 2018When: 19-22 JulyWhere: Carnoustie Golf Links, Angus, ScotlandDefending champion: Jordan Spieth (USA)Tickets: theopen.com/tickets Website: theopen.com
History of The Open
For more than 150 years The Open Championship has been one of the world’s pre-eminent sporting events. It was first held in 1860 when eight professionals played at Prestwick Golf Club to decide who was the “champion golfer” – and Willie Park Sr beat Old Tom Morris by two shots.
Two years later Prestwick officials opened up the tournament to golfers from around the world. In the decades that followed, legendary names including Seve Ballesteros, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson were engraved on the Claret Jug, to be followed in recent years by Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
History of the Claret Jug
This silver trophy, officially known as The Golf Champion Trophy, is not just one of golf’s biggest prizes, but also sport’s.
The original prize to The Open’s early winners was the Challenge Belt, but in 1873 Mackay Cunningham & Company was commissioned to create a replacement. It was first won by Tom Kidd at the 13th Open in 1873, but the previous year’s winner, Tom Morris Junior, was the first name engraved on it.
Current holder of the Claret Jug is America’s Jordan Spieth, who won the 2017 Open at Royal Birkdale.
After his victory last year Spieth said: “This is as much of a high as I’ve ever experienced in my golfing life. And I’m going to enjoy it more than I’ve enjoyed anything that I’ve accomplished in the past.
“I don’t compare myself” to Woods or Nicklaus, he added. “And I don’t think comparisons are appropriate or necessary. To be in that company, no doubt, is absolutely incredible. And I certainly appreciate it.”
Previous ten Champion Golfers
2017: Jordan Spieth (USA)2016: Henrik Stenson (Sweden)2015: Zach Johnson (USA)2014: Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland)2013: Phil Mickelson (USA)2012: Ernie Els (South Africa)2011 Darren Clarke (Northern Ireland)2010: Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa)2009: Stewart Cink (USA)2008: Padraig Harrington (Ire)
About the Carnoustie course
Golf has been played at Carnoustie since the early 16th century - and this year The Open returns to the Angus links course for the first time since 2007. Carnoustie Golf Links, a long and narrow course, has a total yardage of 7,402 and is a par 71.
Carnoustie hosted its first Open Championship in 1931 and champions on its honours board include legends such as Henry Cotton, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Tom Watson. Scottish golfer Paul Lawrie won at Carnoustie in 1999 while Ireland’s Padraig Harrington lifted the Claret Jug there in 2007.
Sky Sports reports that Lawrie will not play at Carnoustie this year because of injury.
How to watch
Sky Sports will show live coverage all week from the 2018 Open. Programming starts on Monday 16 July with Live at The Open, which continues through to Sunday 22 July’s fourth and final round.
Latest prices according to Oddschecker.
To win The Open:Dustin Johnson: 12/1Rory McIlroy: 14/1Jordan Spieth: 14/1Rickie Fowler: 20/1Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1Justin Rose: 20/1Justin Thomas: 22/1Brooks Koepka: 25/1Tiger Woods: 25/1Jon Rahm: 25/1Henrik Stenson: 28/1Jason Day: 28/1Sergio Garcia: 33/1Hideki Matsuyama: 40/1Patrick Reed: 40/1