Brooks Koepka is our top tip in The Open predictions

The Open: Koepka to capitalise on secret Portrush weapon

All eyes will be on local hero Rory McIlroy when the Open Championship returns to Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951, but we’re hoping another prominent figure enjoys a happy homecoming instead.

McIlroy can draw on the memories of his course-record 61, set during the North of Ireland Championship when he was a 16-year-old amateur.

However, his last major victory was the 2014 US PGA Championship and the Northern Irishman is coming off an error-strewn final round at the Scottish Open.

With the added pressure of performing on home soil sure to weigh heavy on his shoulders, we’re opposing McIlroy at 9/1 in The Open odds.

Following on from England’s Cricket World Cup success at Lord’s and a British Grand Prix victory for Lewis Hamilton, there is a local angle worth picking up on, though.

Brooks Koepka on 10/1 has been nothing short of sensational in recent majors, with four title triumphs coming from eight starts and this season’s form figures reading 2-1-2.

The American clearly relishes tougher tests and also has the added advantage this week of caddie Ricky Elliott being from Portrush.

“Luckily, my caddie has played this course I can’t tell you how many times, that’s a big advantage,” Koepka said.

“He knows the spots to miss it, the spots to come in from. I will definitely have a lot more confidence having him on the bag this week. I’m looking forward to it.”

Asked about the prospect of Elliott winning the Claret Jug in his home town, Koepka added: “There would be nothing cooler.

“I don’t think he ever thought there would be an Open Championship here and to top it off I don’t think he thought he would be a part of it.

“To be able to win one here, he would be a legend, wouldn’t he?”

Schauffele another major player

For the second of our The Open predictions, we’re siding with another player who has excelled in majors in 25/1 chance Xander Schauffele.

The 25-year-old, from San Diego, was tied for second at Carnoustie 12 months ago and in this year’s Masters at Augusta.

Add on third place in the US Open at Pebble Beach last month and it is impossible not to sit up and take notice of his record in big events.

Schauffele has a World Golf Championship success to his credit, winning the HSBC Champions, often referred to as Asia’s major, in Shanghai last October.

He also claimed top prize in an event in Hawaii restricted to winners on the PGA Tour last season, so mixing it with the game’s elite is not a concern.

Henrik Stenson at 28/1 completes our trio of The Open betting tips after showing some promising signs of late.

The Swede followed up ninth place at the US Open by sharing fourth spot at the Scottish Open, where scores of 65-65-69-66 highlighted his well-being.

Stenson has a win, a second and two thirds at past Open Championship tournaments and has also reached double figures in terms of top-10 finishes at the other three majors.

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