Rory McIlroy will soon begin his unofficial defence of the Claret Jug he won two years ago, yet no one is really talking Wee-Mac’s chances up in quite the same fashion ahead of the 2016 Open Championship at Royal Troon. This should prove a handy advantage for the Ulsterman.
Technically, McIlroy didn’t give up his 2014 title to Zach Johnson a year ago at St. Andrews, when an ankle injury sustained playing football kept him away from tackling the Old Course.
Had he not tripped on that artificial turf, then the Northern Irishman would certainly have gone off favourite in 2015 as the defending champion and four-time major winner.
A year on and although McIlroy’s name is right up there in the betting, for once, there will be more focus on world number one and market leader Jason Day, at 7/1, and the Brit’s co-second favourite Dustin Johnson at 8s.
DJ is the man of the moment. The broad-shouldered American followed up his crucial majors breakthrough at the US Open, by charging from behind to win the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on his very next start.
The great news for Rory is that the final-round dramatics at the Firestone Country Club focused on Johnson and Day.
The American managed to capitalise on Day’s implosion down the stretch to scoop successive prestigious titles, giving himself the chance to mirror McIlroy’s major-Bridgestone-major hat-trick of 2014.
Because Rory never featured at the US Open, missing the cut largely due to shooting an opening 77 in horrendous conditions at Oakmont, the Brit has slipped slightly from the majors limelight at an opportune time.
Interestingly for those not paying close attention, the two results either side of that anomaly show McIlroy to be in better touch than he arguably was before starting his summer winning streak in 2014.
The Nike-sponsored megastar won the Irish Open before Oakmont and has subsequently followed that up with a very encouraging performance at the 100th Open de France – also on the European Tour.
A second-round 66 featuring six birdies spurred Rory on to a third-placed finish across the channel so his game looks strong heading to Scotland’s west coast.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.