So far this year, we have seen three of the four Major championships in golf contested. In April, Tiger Woods landed his 15th Major of his career in emotional scenes at Augusta when he donned the Green Jacket as the winner of The Masters. A month later, Brooks Koepka won his fourth Major title and second USPGA Championship in a row and then last month, the talented Gary Woodland broke his Major duck by taking victory at Pebble Beach in the US Open.

The revised golf calendar and the change in date of the PGA Championship from August to May now means that the Open Championship, the oldest of all four majors, is now the last Major of the year to be contested and this year, it is the turn of the famous Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland to host the tournament.

READ: What is so special about golf’s 2022 British Open?

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British Open – A Par 3 History

The first British Open was played in October 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club in Ayrshire in Scotland and it was played on a 12-hole links course over three rounds (36-holes in total). Willie Park Snr was the very first Champion Golfer of the Year landing victory in that tournament.

By 1872, the tournament had grown so much that a new trophy, the famous Claret Jug, was made to replace the belt that had originally been played for (and won by Young Tom Morris in 1870 who was allowed to keep the belt permanently after winning it three times) and also saw the introduction of rotating the venue of the Championship from year to year.

The tournament really began to take hold in the 1920s when some of the great American players of the era travelled to participate in the tournamnent including Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones and Gene Sarazen.

Over the years the tournament continued to grow in size and prestige and has seen all of the world;s top players competing including the trio of Palmer, Nicklaus and Player in the 60s, Watson, Ballesteros, Faldo and Norman in the decades later and in more recent times, the likes of Woods, Els, McIlroy and Harrington.

This Year’s Venue – Royal Portrush

Located on the northern coast of Northern Ireland in County Antrim, Royal Portrush will host its second ever Open Championship, coming 68 years after it hosted its first back in 1951.

The course is a par 71-links course and features a number of famous holes including the aptly named 16th Calamity Corner (a 236-yard par three) and 17th Purgatory (a 408 yard par four) and a new 592-yard seventh hole named Curran Point. The course will play 7,344 yards in total from the Championship tees.

Key British Open Stats and Facts

  • The current holder of the title is Italian Francesco Molinari, who won his first Major title by two shots from four other players at Carnoustie last year, finishing on -8.
  • Last year, the Open Champion pocketed a prize of $1,890,000, however this year the prize money has been increased to $1,935,000.
  • A total of 15 former Open Champions are expected to enter this year’s tournament with the most distant winner being Tom Lehman, who landed his only victory in the tournament back in 1996.
  • The United States will have the most golfers competing in the tournament this year with 47 players expected to play. England comes next with 25 with South Africa the third most represented country with 11.
  • Several countries have just one representative including China, India, Taiwan, New Zealand, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Chile, Slovakia and Argentina.
  • The last Northern Irish player to win the tournament was Rory McIlroy, who won at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake back in 2014. OPrior to McIlroy’s win, Darren Clarke, another Northern Ireland golfer, was a winner at Royal St George’s back in 2011.
  • The last English winner of this tournament came way back in 1992 when Nick Faldo landed the victory at Muirfield.
  • The oldest winner of the tournament was Old Tom Morris who won aged 46 years and 102 days back in 1867
  • The youngest winner was Young Tom Morris, who won the trophy a year later in 1868 aged just 17 years and 156 days.
  • Harry Vardon holds the record of most British Open victories with six.
  • The lowest ever score for a British Open win was 264, set by Henrik Stenson back in 2016.
  • The lowest ever round at a British Open is also the lowest round ever in a Major Championship and was the 62 shot by Branden Grace in the 3rd Round of the British Open in 2017.
  • There are currently ten courses on the Open rotation in the UK, five in Scotland (Carnoustie, St. Andrews, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield), four in England (Royal St Georges, Royal Lytham and St Annes, Royal Birkdale, Royal Liverpool) and one in Northern Ireland, Royal Portrush.
  • The venues of the next three Open Championships are already known as in 2020 it will take place at Royal St Georges in Kent, followed by the Old Course at St Andrews in 2021 and then in 2022, at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake on the Wirral.

Who are the golfers to watch or bet on at the British Open 2019?

The action starts on Thursday morning with the 2011 Open Champion and native Northern Ireland star Darren Clarke given the honour of striking the first ball of the tournament. The bookmakers have local favourite Rory McIlroy as the current leader in the betting at 9/1, but it is very tight between McIlroy and Brooks Koepka, who has won four of the last nine Majors contested with the American a 10/1 shot.

For me, Links golf is only very difficult for American players if the winds pick up and even them many Americans have shown themselves to be more than proficient in playing in these conditions, so I don’t think European players have that big an advantage any longer. My tip to win is indeed Rory McIlroy as I feel with home advantage, he could be inspired, but I also feel Tommy Fleetwood (30/1) is a great each way bet as he grew up playing the links courses in the north west of England as a youngster.

Of the American challengers, I feel Koepka, Dustin Johnson (16/1) and Jordan Spieth (35/1) are the players to watch.