It feels as if the dust has barely settled from Brooks Koepka’s shocking first major win at the U.S. Open in June. But next week the best players on the PGA Tour will be back at it in England. The Open Championship takes place at Turnberry from July 16-23, with qualifying rounds occurring before the main four-day event. It’s always among the more challenging tournaments on the golf calendar. While that means the best players can rise to the top of the leaderboards, it also means there are no guarantees.
Lately, Scottish and Irish players on the pro tour have been a bit below the top tier. But given the competitive and unpredictable nature of the Open, there are a few such players that shouldn’t be counted out.
Russell Knox (SCO)
At 46th in the world, Knox is currently the highest ranked player from Scotland or Ireland on the tour. But we should put his shot at contention in perspective. Heading into the U.S. Open last month, Koepka was actually listed by one site featuring odds markets and strategy articles as someone who could surprise a few people during the tournament. He had 44/1 odds at the time, and was considered to be a long shot, but one worth paying attention to. Comparatively, Knox is currently getting 80/1 odds at best for the Open Championship. He’s unlikely to win, but has played well enough lately to be able to keep himself in contention if he has a good week.
Shane Lowry (IRL)
Lowry is situated below Knox on the PGA Tour rankings, but he may actually be the best hope for either Scotland or Ireland to triumph at the Open. Heading into this week’s tournament at Portstewart, there was a write-up reminding fans of Lowry’s dramatic playoff victory at the Irish Open in 2009, when he was technically still an amateur. That has remained the high point of his career, but we know that he’s a player capable of compelling efforts. He’s generally being given better odds than Knox, and in some cases is in the 50/1 range—not far off where Brooks Koepka was viewed before winning the U.S. Open.
Martin Laird (SCO)
At 87th in the world, Laird is definitely a long shot to break through with an Open Championship title, but that’s not to say he isn’t a capable golfer. He recently secured a spot in the tournament for the first time since his 44th place finish four years ago, and reiterated that it’s the tournament he always dreamed of playing in. He likely won’t make a splash, but every now and then a golfer with that kind of opportunity comes through with some special play.
These are the three men to watch if you’re planning on tuning in for the Open Championship later this month and you happen to be rooting for a Scottish or Irish victory. Given the recent surprises at the U.S. Open it’s clear that anything could happen. That means it could potentially be a fantastic weekend for British and Irish golf fans!