British Open preview: Waiting for Rory’s resurgence

Golf’s final Major tees off Thursday morning at St. Andrew’s. The 150th British Open (or Open Championship, for those sticklers) promises to deliver plenty of pageantry and salutes to the game’s history, up to and including Tiger Woods (two of his three Open wins have come at the Old Course) and Jack Nicklaus (all three of his Open titles have happened here).

There’s a chance for Collin Morikawa to become the first man to repeat since Padraig Harrington turned the trick in 2007-2008, while Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas and Matthew Fitzpatrick have the opportunity to own 2022 with a second Major victory of the year.



On another level, there’s the likes of Xander Schauffele, who has yet to win a Major, contrasted by Rory McIlroy, whose drought is closing on eight years after winning four Majors from 2011-14.

Others, not including Tiger Woods, have had extended dry spells, from Ben Crenshaw going 11 years between Masters wins to Phil Mickelson going almost eight between his British Open and PGA Championship wins. But the longer Rory goes without winning a Major, the more we are reminded that Tom Watson and Arnold Palmer had runs where they looked like they might reach double-digits in titles, but wound up winning their final Majors at age 33. McIlroy’s most recent win was the 2014 PGA — and he was 25 years old at the time. Perhaps the birthplace of golf is the perfect place for his Major run to be reborn.

This year’s favorites (odds are from vegasinsider.com):

Rory McIlroy (+1000), 4:58 a.m. tee-time Thursday.

On the Green: He’s won twice on tour this year and has five other Top 10 finishes. Rory tied for third the last time he played in the Open at St. Andrews. He’s also fared well at Majors this year, finishing second (Masters), tying for fifth (U.S. Open), and placing eighth (PGA).

In the Rough: Rory has had issues the last two times he’s played the Open, missing the cut and tying for 46th. He also hasn’t played competitively in three weeks, and that was his worst finish (tying for 19th at the Travelers Championship) since missing the cut at the Valero Texas Open.

Xander Schauffele (+1400), 4:58 a.m.

On the Green: He’s won his last two tournaments (Travelers Championship and the Scottish Open) and has posted three other top tens this season.

In the Rough: Zero Top 10 finishes at this year’s Majors and he has just one Top 10 at the Open just once (tying for second in 2018) in his career.

Jordan Spieth (+1500), 10:10 a.m.

On the Green: The 2017 champ tied for fourth the last time the Open was played at St. Andrews. He also finished second last year. He’s also coming off tying for 10th at the Scottish Open.

In the Rough: Spieth missed the cut at the Masters, tied for 34th at the PGA Championship, and tied for 37th at the U.S. Open.

Jon Rahm (+1600) 10:10 a.m.

On the Green: He’s won outside the USA this year (Mexico Open at Vidanta) and has five other top tens this year. Rahm also tied for third at Royal St. George’s last year.

In the Rough: Zero Top 10s in this year’s Majors. He’s also coming off of tying for 55th at the Scottish Open.

Scottie Scheffler (+1600), 8:26 a.m.

On the Green: He’s posted four wins and nine Top 10 finishes while moving atop the Tour’s money list. Scheffler’s also shined recently on the big stage with five Top 10 finishes in his last six Majors, including tying for second at the U.S. Open last month.

In the Rough: He missed the cut this past weekend at the Scottish Open and has played the Open Tournament just once in his career.

Matthew Fitzpatrick (+1800), 9:59 a.m.

On the Green: The U.S. Open champ has nine top tens this year and tied for fifth at the PGA Championship after tying for 14th at the Masters. In 2014, he made his Open debut by tying for 44th as the Low Amateur.

In the Rough: Online, he’s been alternately called “Matthew” and “Matt.” The last thing one needs on the Major stage is a lack of identity.

Shane Lowry (+2000), 5:09 a.m.

On the Green: The 2019 Open champ has four Top 10 finishes this year. He also tied for third at the Masters.

In the Rough: 2019 was the only time he’s finished in the top 10 at the Open and Lowry missed the cut the last time it was played at St Andrews. He also missed the cut in his most recent tournament, last month’s U.S. Open.

Justin Thomas (+2000), 5:09 a.m.

On the Green: The PGA Championship winner has nine Top 10 finishes this season.

In the Rough: Thomas has zero career top tens at the Open and since winning the PGA he’s missed two of four cuts while tying for 37th at the U.S. Open.

Patrick Cantlay (+2400), 10:21 a.m.

On the Green: Four Top 10 finishes in the last two months have pushed Cantlay into the top five on the Tour’s earnings list. He’s coming off tying for fourth at the Scottish Open.

In the Rough: He’s yet to finish in the Top 10 at the Open and hasn’t finished in the Top 10 at a Major since 2019.

Will Zalatoris (+2700), 5:20 a.m.

On the Green: He’s posted six Top 10 finishes in nine Major appearances, including runner-up finishes at the Masters, PGA Championship, and U.S. Open (the latter two occurring this year). He’s also posted six top-six finishes in his last nine tournaments.

In the Rough: The 25-year-old has just one professional victory and a back injury forced his withdrawal from last year’s Open.

Collin Morikawa (+2800), 4:58 a.m.

On the Green: The defending champ has posted Top 10 finishes at this year’s Masters and U.S. Open.

In the Rough: Morikawa tied for 55th at the PGA and hasn’t won at all this season.

Former champs and others worth setting your alarm for:

2:30 a.m.: Phil Mickelson (2013). Lefty looms large, especially in the LIV world.

2:52 a.m.: John Daly (1995). Somehow the bull in golf’s china shop won at the birthplace of golf.

2:52 a.m.: Bryson DeChambeau. They couldn’t pair him with Koepka?

3:03 a.m.: Brooks Koepka. He bolted for the LIV Tour after the U.S. Open.

3:03 a.m.: Cameron Smith. The Tour’s No. 2 earner this season has yet to win a Major in his career.

9:59 a.m.: Tiger Woods (2000, 2005-06). After withdrawing from the PGA and missing the U.S. Open due to his rebuilt leg, can the game’s biggest name make the cut?

Somebody from Wales: The weight of the only country in the United Kingdom not to produce an Open champion is on the shoulders of Jamie Donaldson (2:08 a.m.), Stephen Dodd (4:03 a.m.), and Oliver Farr (6:15 a.m.). Even the Crown Dependency Jersey has produced a winner.

Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

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