Hoylake in Liverpool will become the centre of the sporting universe this weekend when golf’s Open Championship rolls around to the Wirral for the first time since 2006.
Tiger Woods took the Claret Jug on that occasion, but we can’t have the out-of-form Nike salesman at 25/1 for a repeat here, instead preferring the red-hot trio below…
Justin Rose @ 14/1 to win the Open Championship
No player had ever managed the Scottish Open/Open Championship double prior to Phil Mickelson in 2013, but the man affectionately known as ‘Lefty’ now believes taking the Royal Aberdeen title is a distinct advantage for Claret Jug hopefuls.
Rose’s success on the north-sea coast last weekend, his second in a row having taken the Quick Loans National in Maryland, Virginia seven days earlier, came about thanks to a brilliant six-under par 65 on the final day.
The 33-year-old bucked the Major monkey off his back by taking last year’s US Open, and back on the stage of his big breakthrough – Rose tied for fourth as leading amateur at nearby Royal Birkdale 14 years ago – he rates a worthy favourite.
Rory McIlroy @ 18/1
McIlroy produced a performance golf groupies have come to expect in Scotland, following up a course record 64 in the first round with a 78, then 68 and 67 to finish on seven under.
Clearly the two-time Major winner and occasional world number one is hitting the ball well enough, and if McIlroy can keep his cool he has the talent to go a couple better than his third in 2010 and blitz this field.
Phil Mickelson @ 22/1
Lefty put up a fine fight in defence of his Royal Aberdeen title, finishing two strokes ahead of McIlroy and tied for 11th place on nine under.
Mickelson always shows up in Majors, with five wins and an outstanding 35 top-ten finishes during his near quarter-century career.
The 44-year-old may have broken the Scottish Open/Open Championship hoodoo last year, but he wouldn’t even be the second golfer in the last decade to defend the Claret Jug, as Padraig Harrington and Tiger Woods have both managed said feat since 2005.