The 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake is edging ever closer, and with the field looking as open as ever – Rory McIlroy is the 10/1 favourite – it’s past time to go looking for a high-value competitor who might hog the headlines on Merseyside.
While we can’t quite envisage anything quite as dramatic as John Daly v Constantino Rocca 19 years ago, these three certainly have the potential to capture imaginations.
The re-emergence of Paul Casey @ 40/1 to win the Open
Three-time European Ryder Cup team member and twice winner Casey has clawed his way back to prominence over the past 13 months.
The US-educated Englishman made it up to third in the world rankings just five short years ago, before spending three years in the golfing wilderness due to fitness issues and loss of form.
Casey took the 2013 Irish Open, his first tournament win for two-and-a-half years, and has been back in useful form this year, such as when leading the lucrative Memorial at the half-way stage in Ohio last month.
Two of Casey’s top three Major finishes – tied for seventh in 2008 and tied for third in 2010 – have come in his home Open.
Rickie Fowler breaking his Major duck, also @ 40/1
Fowler has been edging ever closer to a breakthrough success during his fifth campaign on the USPGA tour.
The 25-year-old’s joint-second at the US Open, eight shots behind runaway winner Martin Kaymer, came just two months after an arguably more impressive shared fifth at the Masters, when he finished just six shots off Bubba Watson.
Those were the California native’s fourth and fifth top-ten Major finishes of his short career so far, and Fowler has made the top eight in three World Golf Championship events since 2011.
An emotionally-charged win on Open debut for Rhys Enoch @ 500/1
Britain’s biggest golfing weekend often throws up a remarkable story from one of the home-team debutants.
Justin Rose tied for fourth as leading amateur in 1998 at Royal Birkdale, and McIlroy announced himself to the world by smashing a first-round 68 at Carnoustie nine years later, with the Northern Irish phenom also taking the Silver Medal with a top-50 finish.
A big performance from Enoch would top even those two luminaries, as the Cornish-born Welshman has had to overcome personal tragedy and serious illness in the last half-decade.
Brother Ben, who was tipped to partner Rhys in the Walker Cup, died in a car crash on his way to an amateur competition at Royal Lytham in 2009, and the 26-year-old has had to fight off Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – also known as ME – since.
After chipping in during an Open qualifying play-off to claim his place at Hoylake, the omens look good for the older Enoch sibling on Merseyside.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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