The PGA Tour contests its final major of the year as it heads to Royal Liverpool for the 151st playing of The Open Championship. There are storylines aplenty to go around this week, with red-hot Rory McIlroy looking to end a 9 year winless streak in the majors, with Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka each looking for their first Claret Jug to put them both one major away from the Grand Slam, and with Scottie Scheffler looking to continue the historic run he has been on this season, just to name a few. 77 of the top 100 players in the Official World Golf Ranking are playing in The Open Championship this week. It may not be the strongest major field of the season, but the cream will most certainly rise to the top and the best of the best will be battling for the Claret Jug come Sunday. Last year’s edition was won by Cameron Smith, who fired a final round 64 for the comeback victory, beating Cameron Young by one stroke for his first career major victory.
Player to Fade:
Once upon a time, in a time not so long before I was born, John Daly was a really good player. Despite what the critics say, Daly played well enough to win 2 career majors, including the 1995 Open Championship at St. Andrews. Like with all great folk heroes, Father Time has crept into the picture and even John Daly is not invincible to that force. Daly last made the cut in the Open Championship in 2012 and hasn’t made a cut on the PGA Tour in general since the 2019 Barracuda Championship. Winners of The Open can play in this event until they are 60, and at 57 year’s old, Daly’s playing days are coming to a wind down. Always a fan favorite, John Daly is a lock to miss the cut this week.
The 49th ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, Adrian Meronk has hopped onto a lot of radars over the last year, winning 3 times on the DP World Tour since last July. The first Polish golfer to win on the DP World Tour, Meronk has a solid game throughout the bag, ranking 4th in Greens in Regulation and 5th in Stroke Average on tour. Since Meronk’s win at the DS Automobiles Italian Open, he has had a mixed bag of success, with 3 top 15’s and 3 missed cuts in 7 starts. Meronk’s game ultimately hinges on the success of his putter, which had been known to go cold from time to time. If he can get a few putts to drop this week, there’s no reason Meronk can’t secure his first career top 25 in a major.
The reigning winner of The Open Championship, Cameron Smith has taken a ton of flack since then for leaving the PGA Tour to join LIV. Despite the switch in tours, Smith’s game is still one of the best in the sport. Smith has had 1 win and 5 top 10’s in 9 starts in LIV this season, as well as top 10 finishes at both the PGA Championship and the U. S. Open. Smith is coming into The Open on a high note, having won his most recent LIV start two weeks ago. Smith is arguably the best putter in the game right now and he is looking to become the first player to defend his Open Championship title since Padraig Harrington did it in 2007 and 2008. Smith may not bring home the victory, but we predict that he will put up a valiant title defense and bring home a top 10 finish this week.
After what felt like an eternity, Viktor Hovland finally earned himself a crown jewel win on tour, taking home the victory at the Memorial Tournament last month. This season hasn’t been the flashiest for Hovland, but he’s checking all the boxes, with 1 win, 7 top 10’s, 14 top 25’s, and 0 missed cuts in 19 starts. What’s noting is that 3 of those top 10’s came on the biggest stages: the Players Championship, the Masters, and the PGA Championship, where he ended up finishing T-2 behind Brooks Koepka. Hovland finished T-4 in this event last year after being co-leader through 54 holes and finished T-12 in his other Open appearance in 2021. Hovland’s game is strongest off the tee, ranking inside the top 10 in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and Off-the-Tee. His kryptonite is his short game, as the putter has gone cold from time to time. Hovland’s game is trending in the right direction on the biggest stages and he is due for his big moment on the major stage. Viktor “Norwegian Wood” Hovland will hoist the Claret Jug on Sunday at the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool for his first career major victory!