The 146th Open Championship is upon us with the opening rounds just a few hours away at the Royal Birkdale.
Included in the field are 16 former Open winners, 15 local qualifiers, 5 amateurs, 52 Americans, and 104 from everywhere else.
There are three groups on the opening two days that stand head and shoulders above the rest in terms of dynamics. They are:
- Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott, Paul Casey: Fowler has two top five finishes a The Open since 2011 and already has a win and four top 10 finishes this year. Former #1 Scott finished in the top 10 four straight years at the Open between 2012 and 2015. Casey finished third at the Open in 2010 and was sixth at The Masters this year.
- Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Charl Schwartzel: You know it’s a good group when the least interesting guy had 13 wins between the PGA and Euro Tours and won the 2011 Masters. McIlroy will forever be a fan favorite here. He won in 2014 during his tour de force that saw him when four times in three months. Overall he’s got eight victories since May of 2014. Johnson finished tied for second at the Open in 2011 and was tied for ninth a year ago. He won three times in five weeks in February and March but has been fairly quiet since.
- Jason Day, Sergio Garcia, Zach Johnson: Day finished fourth at the Open in 2015, just before going on his breakthrough streak that culminated in the 2015 PGA title and his ascension to No. 1. He’s struggled to his first season since 2012, currently just 38th on the money list after back-to-back years at No. 2. After nine wins in three years, he’s stuck at zero in 2017. Garcia won The Masters three months ago and has 31 career wins overall. He had six top 10 finishes at the Open in seven years between 2001 and 2007, and three more in the top six from 2014-2016. Johnson was the surprise winner here two years ago, defeating Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman in a playoff. He has not won a tournament since, although he tied for fifth last week at the John Deere Classic.