Can McIlroy, Johnson or anyone tackle the Carnoustie challenge?
World Cup fever may be dominating the summer, the Golf fans will be rubbing their hands with glee ahead of the 147th Open Championship.
That’s because Carnoustie plays host, and there’s always thrills and spills whenever the Angus venue takes centre stage.
Some six hitters are in at 16s, including last year’s winner Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose.
The Carnoustie Challenge
But can any of them conquer a course regarded by many as the toughest Open venue of them all?
Carnoustie has brought many a golfer to the darkest depths of despair over the years. It isn’t known as ‘Car-nasty’ in North America without good reason.
Boasting a wonderful blend of varied par fours plus a couple of devilishly short par threes and a pair of big-hitting par fives, Carnoustie has it all.
The final few holes are notoriously difficult, especially the 18th and the famous Barry Burn brook which memorably undid Jean van de Velde’s chances in brutal fashion in 1999.
Johnson has been hit and miss when it comes to the Open. The South Carolina hitter’s best result is second at Royal St George in 2011, while he failed to break the top-30 in 2013, 2015 and 2017.
On each of those occasions he produced scintillating brilliance and wayward shot choices in equal-measure.
But he heads to Scotland in fine form, winning the FedEx St.Jude Classic last month before a third place in the US Open.
It’s knocking on four years since McIlroy last won a Major, and doubts remain if he’s rediscovered his sweet spot after injuries disrupted his last couple of seasons.
But he often comes through when on the links. He was T4 at Birkdale last year and T5 at Royal Troon in 2016.
Spieth was near-untouchable 12 months ago, winning by three strokes to claim his third Major. But the American hasn’t threatened in recent months, so it remains to be seen how he fairs up against Carnoustie.
Further down the betting, Francesco Molinari could be one to watch at 33s. The Italian has won the BMW PGA and the Quicken Loans National in recent weeks as he eyes a spot in Europe’s Ryder Cup team.
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