The Open: Rory leads the European charge at Royal Troon
It’s less than two weeks until the 145th Open Championship tees off at Royal Troon, and as usual it’s Rory McIlroy who will be leading the hopes of European contenders, although history suggests an American will prove victorious in Scotland.
Of the eight times Troon has played host previously, only once has a European prevailed – Arthur Hayes in 1923 – with American winners crowned on each of the last six occasions at the Ayrshire venue.
History suggests someone from across the pond will be going home very happy, but there’s plenty of Euro talent who will take to the historic course.
So who will be top European come a week on Sunday?
Understandably favourite for the top European accolade, the four-time Major winner will head to Troon in decent form, after finishing third in the French Open.
With four top-10s on the PGA Tour and another three on the European tour, McIlroy is in good shape, a missed cut at the US Open aside.
It’s been a steady year for Justin Rose, the highlight being a third at Wells Fargo, plus top 10s at the Masters, Pebble Beach and Arnold Palmer.
He’s landed seven top-20s in 2016, but like McIlroy missed the cut as Oakmont. Finished 46th at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational last time out.
After missing the cut at the Players Championship and Wells Fargo, Stenson endured an unusual US Open, withdrawing without a reason before completing his second round.
The Swede later cited knee and neck issues, and he returned to form in fine style to claim his 10th European Tour title at the BMW International last week by three strokes. Boasts three top-three Open finishes in the last eight years.
The affable Spaniard arrives as arguably Europe’s most in-form contender after a fifth at the US Open plus a play-off victory at Byron Nelson.
Garcia’s Open record is also one to admire, with 10 top-10 results, including three second places.
Few sporting moments will ever top Danny Willett’s amazing Masters success, but the Yorkshireman has struggled since.
Willett has missed three of his last four cuts, the only success being a 37th in the US Open, but did finish sixth at St Andrews last year.
After opening the year with successive top-20s, Shane Lowry has only managed to break the top 30 twice since.
Second place at the US Open however shows why the man who finished ninth at Hoylake in 2014 should be seriously considered.
After a run of three top-10s in a little over a month, including fourth at the Masters, Paul Casey looked set for a big year.
Sadly it hasn’t quite turned out that way, but a share of 16th at the Bridgestone Invitational last week was a timely result.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.