Now that we’re well and truly into the new year, we can really start looking towards The Open 2019. Predicting what might happen at the major will be difficult, but at Eventmasters, we’re blessed with the gift of foresight and can prepare you for everything that will happen at the Royal Portrush event in 2019.
Without further ado, here’s what we predict at The Open in 2019!
1 – Familiar Faces to Steal the Show
Tiger Woods still has much more left in him, and 2018 proved this. The superstar and former Open winner seemed hugely supportive of the move to Northern Ireland, and seems to enjoy the challenge of the course and competition. The Big Cat sees Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke, and Graeme McDowell as the golfers to beat as they are all extremely experienced on the course.
We think British fan favourite Tommy Fleetwood also has a great chance of performing well in 2019. After floating around the top of the Official World Golf Rankings for some time now, the Englishman looks set to make 2019 his year. Fleetwood is also hosting the 2019 British Masters, so we expect big things from him this year at The Open.
While the field of play has been far from stagnant, there is definitely much of the old guard still claiming tour titles and winning majors left right and centre – and there’s no reason to discount them today. Breakthrough players, such as Molinari at Carnoustie 2018, seemed to be the exception and not the rule. Though, with this in mind, read on further down, because we still do expect a few up-and-comers to break into the top of the rankings this year…
2 – The New Golf Rules to Cause Controversy
The 2019 golf rules changes could be at the centre of a controversy during The Open at Royal Portrush. The new rules, which include three-minute ball searching limits, dropping from knee height and putting with the flag in, may cause some confusion and disagreement on the Northern Irish course.
Each year at the Open, approximately 600 rounds of golf will be played – if everyone kept to the 71 par, that’s over 42,000 strokes! With that much going on, problems are certainly a likelihood.
The new golf rules themselves have already been controversial, with most modernisers of the sport stating that changes are much needed. The main aim of the rules, on the whole, has been to make the game fairer to genuine accidents by players and to speed the game up to make it more exciting for new audiences.
T.C. Chen is perhaps one of the most famous cases of a genuinely accidental and unfortunate double-hit on a chip. Not only did it send his ball in the wrong direction, but he was also required to add an extra stroke to his tally at the 1985 US Open. The new rules make it so that on the rare occasion this does happen, the players won’t be penalised for the mistake.
You can see Chen’s unfortunate shot here:
3 – Breakout stars to shine
While they won’t necessarily take home the title of Champion Golfer of the Year, there are many up-and-comers looking to make a statement at The Open. Englishman Matt Wallace and Dane Lucas Bjerregaard are hotly tipped to break the top ten on the leaderboard at Royal Portrush. Finnish golfer Kim Koivu is also seeking a strong performance. Koivu has been competing for some time now, and is starting to cash in on his hours put in as a promising amateur and mid-tier pro.
We predict good showings from all three young stars, with a chance of future successes for all three at the 2019 BMW PGA Championships and British Masters.
4 – Rory McIlroy to make an unusual European Tour appearance
McIlroy is said to be putting his European Tour membership on hold for a while, with his primary focus being on winning majors. His focus on majors, and The Open being held on his doorstep in Northern Ireland means that it’s almost certain if he only makes one European event this year, it’ll be The Open.
Native Northern Irishman McIlroy got the course record at Royal Portrush at the age of 16. Scoring a hugely impressive 61, which is ten under par, McIlroy said the occasion was also his first ever round without a ‘bogey’.
To keep his European Tour membership, McIlroy must compete for four European tour titles this year, and that to many may seem unlikely. Despite this, there are rumours he could put entries in for the BMW PGA Championship, the DP World Tour Championship or the British Masters. If he was to attend all four events, the number 8 ranked man could keep his Tour membership.
5 – Open tickets will sell fast
The Open tickets sell lightning fast. In less than two days of going on sale, over a fifth of the standard tickets had been sold, and hospitality packages are similarly popular this year. Eventmasters proudly offer Open corporate hospitality packages which are the perfect way to experience the action in Northern Ireland with your most valued guests and clients.
We’re expecting to sell out at the event, as the VIP packages are proving a firm favourite among long-time golf fans and those looking for a quick luxury getaway in the beautiful Northern Irish countryside.
6 – Big-Names to miss the cut under pressure
The course at Royal Portrush Golf Club is notoriously difficult and unpredictable. From the very first hole, the course is instantly a challenge to even the most seasoned professional. Hole one, “Hughies” require deft delicacy with the clubs, given out-of-bounds, bunkers and swales confine the fairway to a narrow channel leading towards the beautifully maintained green. Contrast this with the tenth, “Himalayas,” which has a crescent shape to it, resulting in either a risk-averse ‘long-way-around’ approach which racks up strokes. The risky approach to the hole is a long drive to send the ball to the green in one, risking hitting dunes or being blown away as the wind is channelled across the green end of the fairway.
The twelfth hole, “Dhu Varren” challenges golfers in a different way again, needing careful putting on the green to pass difficult and beautifully contoured ground to reach the hole.
To win at Royal Portrush, a golfer must be a fantastic all-rounder, with technical precision combined with stupendous power in their drives – or, very lucky. It’s perhaps no wonder that all-time greats and all-rounders Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Seve Ballesteros all feature as multiple-time past champions on similar links courses.
We also see a 1995 win for John Daly, who’s enigmatic and unpredictable style just happened to line up with the notably similar St Andrews links course. Though to many it seemed to many that luck for Daly and difficult conditions for all allowed him the victory.
Winning at the Open in 2019 is going to be tough for anyone at all. Perhaps another reason to think Rory McIlroy is going to be lifting the Claret Jug is his consistency at a high level. The local hero is known for playing almost even strokes wherever he plays, and this ability to keep calm and collected right from tee to flag might be what’s needed to conquer the course at Royal Portrush Golf Club.
We may see some big-names falling out of the competition at the 2-round cut. While it’s unfortunate that skill isn’t always enough to keep some of the best players in the world in the competition, it does make for an exciting, anything-can-happen atmosphere that’ll keep anyone excited.
7 – The finest hospitality experiences for golf fans
Lastly, the fantastic coastal town of Portrush will be filled with guests looking to enjoy themselves both by the course and in the town and surrounding areas. The bars and restaurants across county Antrim will be packed with golf fans – so book your places early if you want to be there!
If you’re happy to stand or dance the night away, the host of pubs and bars in the town will ensure you can celebrate The Open until the early hours – you even rub shoulders with well-known golfers looking to let their hair down after a tough round on the course.
For guests looking for hospitality at The Open 2019, there are three incredible facilities available – the Champions Club, the Claret Jug Pavilion and the Claret Jug Suites. Each one will provide you and your valued guests with fantastic opportunities to eat and drink in the exclusive facilities while soaking up the high-level sports on show at Royal Portrush.