Five Outsiders to Follow at The Open
Lifting the Claret Jug is to become part of history. While much attention will be placed upon the favourites at the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush, Golfshake's Derek Clements has picked out a handful of players who spring a surprise.
OK, so it may be stretching it to describe Wallace as an outsider, but he is unlikely to figure as a likely winner as the world’s golf pundits try to select the man who will raise aloft the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush. Wallace is a proven winner. He collected three titles last season and came within a whisker of successfully defending his BMW International Open title last month. He also played superbly at the US PGA Championship.
Finished in a tie for 12th at last year’s Open at Carnoustie, and was ninth at Lytham in 2012. Grabbed the final automatic place in Europe’s Ryder Cup team in 2018 and marked his debut with a superb singles win over Jordan Spieth. Returned to winning ways in the Italian Open in June 2018, his closing 64 holding off local hero Francisco Molinari, and then produced a career-low closing 61 to finish joint runner-up at the BMW International Open. Fierce competitor.
Whisper it, but the 2016 Masters champion is finally putting almost three years of misery behind him. From nowhere, he won the Dubai World Championship at the end of 2018 and although there have been some missed cuts since then, he is beginning to look like he belongs in elite company again. The best news of all is that he appears to be fully fit again, having finally recovered from a crippling back injury. Willett has always been underrated but he belongs in this company.
Not everybody’s favourite golfer. In fact, not anybody’s favourite golfer if truth be told. He fidgets and fumbles, he puts his club back in the bag, fidgets and fumbles some more and then pulls out the same club again. He takes forever to pull the trigger. But here’s the thing - when he finally gets around to hitting the ball he is a world-class ball striker. What’s more, the American, who is a former US PGA champion, has shown some wonderful form this year. Don’t rule him out.
Barely 12 months ago the Dane was outside the top 200 in the world rankings - he is now is the top 50 after good finishes at The Masters and US PGA Championship, as well as finishing fourth at the Dell World Matchplay. Last season tied for third in the BMW PGA Championship, lost a play-off to Matthew Fitzpatrick at the Omega European Masters (after a last-day 63) and captured the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship by one from Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton.
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