The Open 2017 - Preview

The Open Championship will return to Royal Birkdale this July for the first time since 2008, where Padraig Harrington famously became the first European golfer to retain the title since 1906.

Henrik Stenson, who became Sweden’s first ever Major winner at Royal Troon in 2016, will look to defend the title he dramatically won ahead of Phil Mickelson.

Picking a winner this time around could prove a difficult task, particularly given the fact that the world’s top three golfers, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, all missed the cut at the US Open last month.

Johnson has finished in the top 15 in five of the last seven years, but history is not on the side of the 2016 US Open champion.

Apart from Tiger Woods, nobody ranked as the world’s number one golfer at the time has gone on to win the Claret Jug since the turn of the century.

His compatriot Brooks Koepka will fancy his chances of a second successive major after his record-breaking performance at the US Open.

It was a tournament that also saw Hideki Matsuyama, who finished tied sixth at Muirfield in 2013, post a career-best finish in a major championship. The Taiwanese star’s display at Erin Hills has led to the belief that he could become his continent’s first ever winner of The Open.

Elsewhere, many eyes will be on Tommy Fleetwood after the man from Southport finished fourth at the US Open.

The 26-year-old produced a magnificent performance on only his second-ever appearance at the venue, and his form suggests that he is the best chance of British success at Royal Birkdale this month.

With the fluctuation in the form of those at the top of world rankings, better value could be found in the perennial major contenders priced at slightly longer odds. American Rickie Fowler and England’s Justin Rose are two men who potentially fit into that category.

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