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Golf News Roundup: European Tour Prize Money and the Countdown to Portrush

There has been much to talk about in golf lately.  From the European Tour increasing their prize money and a shakeup of the Race to Dubai to Phil Mickelson taking yet another PGA Tour win and the countdown to The Open starting in Northern Ireland.

European Tour prize money increased

The Prize Money available for the final events leading up to the Race to Dubai has increased, after some lukewarm finishing events last year.

One of the biggest prizes in golf now is the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.  The winner of the event from now will take home a share of the prize fund worth $3 Million.  Not only is this a larger prize than the one at any Major or PGA Tour event, but it totals a whopping $1.67 Million more than last year’s winner Danny Willett was paid for his victory.

Willett finished 20th in the rankings at the end of the Race to Dubai, taking €1.3 Million to the bank – mostly down to his winning in the Dubai event.  The winner of the tour was Francesco Molinari, who also took his first Major victory on the tour, taking the win at The Open, beating the likes of Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods to lift the Claret Jug.

The two events which precede the Dubai Championship – the Nedbank Challenge and the Turkish Airlines Open – also see big increases in the winners’ takings.  In the Nedbank, the champion of the event will be taking back $2.5 Million, doubling the prize fund from last year, and the Turkish Airlines Open sees an almost doubling, taking this year’s winner’s slice of the pie to $2 Million up from $1.16 Million last year.

There is also a change in the Race to Dubai itself.  The Race features bonus money, which is paid out to the leaders at the end, and until this year distributed the funds between the top ten performing players on the European Tour.  However, in 2019, the Tour will only give out the cash rewards to the five best players: first place taking home the lion’s share at $2 Million, second place $1.2 million, third place taking $700,000, fourth $600,000 and lastly fifth receiving a bonus of $500,000.

The changes are being implemented to shake up the events at the end of the Race to Dubai.  The Tour organisers faced criticism last year for slow-paced and unexciting golf which featured and underwhelming line up.  Top-loading the prize funds towards the end of the event should shake things up in a few ways.  Not only will it attract more existing top golfing talent and up-and-coming golfers seeking to make a name for themselves – and a nice bonus while they’re at it – but it is also designed to add more intrigue to the event.

By increasing the importance of the last few events of the Race, the organisers hope they will be more competitive as players who have a chance of finishing in a top place will have to compete under pressure and intense competition at these final events to do so.

Phil Mickelson wins at Pebble Beach

‘Lefty’ Phil Mickelson has done it again, proving that age is just a number, and so is first place.  The Californian picked up first place at Pebble Beach, his 44th PGA Tour win of his career, which comes just a couple of months ahead of his 49th Birthday.  On this birthday, Mickelson hopes to compete again on Pebble Beach as it’s the day that the US Open is set to wrap up this year.  This is his fifth win at the links course – perhaps the most well-known in North America.

The US Open is the only Major Phil Mickelson has failed to attain in his career which has spanned for well over two decades.  He picked up major championship wins three times at The Masters (2004, 2006, 2010), and once at The Open (2013) and at the PGA Championship (2005).

Heading into the twilight of his career, Mickelson seems to be still making adjustments to his game, and in some ways might be improving.  One thing noticed by many fans watching this Pebble Beach performance are the straight three line’s Phil has had printed on his balls.

The lines are printed on the one side of the ball and were meticulously angled towards the hole as Phil took aim on tee shots.  The theory seems to be that having a point of reference as to where he is aiming while looking at the ball will improve his off-the-tee accuracy and actually it seem to be working.  While correlation is definitely not causation, Phil was dead straight on the fairway and this was a major part of him taking home the famous AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am crystal glass trophy.

Tiger Woods’s Genesis Open to receive ‘invitational’ status in 2020

Tiger Wood’s event, previously known as the LA Open, is set to receive PGA Invitational status in 2020 – giving the event a huge platform to improve on.  The Big Cat took the event under his wings in 2016, and quickly helped it advance from a fairly minor occasion to an event everyone is looking forward to annually.  The event, held at Tiger’s home club Riviera Country Club will have its field reduced from 144 to 120 players and the winners will receive a whole host of benefits, such as a higher purse and a three-year exemption from the tour.

Woods himself has never won an event at the course, having competed there unsuccessfully 11 times.  However, having won every major, including The Open (in 2000, 2005 and 2006) and The Masters Tournament (in 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005).

Countdown to Portrush Starts in Style

The Open is due to be held at Royal Portrush Golf Club this year, and just days ago we saw the countdown start to kick off to much fanfare.  An event in Belfast, the Northern Irish capital just 60 miles from the town of Portrush, featured a list of British and Irish sports stars, in particular golfers.

The Open has not visited Northern Ireland in 70 years, and the return seems to be welcome, with the R&A announcing that the standard entry tickets are now sold out.  A promising sign early on for the already popular event, and one that the return over the Irish Sea is not only welcome but highly regarded.

One of golf’s most recognisable voices Peter Alliss spoke at the event, alongside champion jockey AP McCoy.  The R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers spoke too, talking of the huge popularity of the event, with over 200,000 people expected to delve on Portrush, and the 600 million expected to watch on television screens worldwide.

 

The Open: Up-and-Comers to Watch

The Open is every bit as unpredictable as golf can be.  As with any other coastal links course, there is an added element of difficulty which constantly thrills spectators and allows a few underdogs to shine through.  This year we have our eyes on a few up-and-comers with promising careers ahead of them who ought to have a good chance at Royal Portrush.

From names who are almost unheard to recent additions to the top of the rankings, we look at the ones to watch as we approach The Open 2019.

Golfers To Watch At The Open 2019

Tom Lewis – A history at The Open, but can he come back?

The Hertfordshire native first caught the golfing world’s eye with his performance in the 2011 Open, getting a 65 in his first round – putting everyone else in the field on notice.  Unfortunately for Tom, this wondrous round wasn’t to be repeated and he scored in the mid-seventies for the rest of the competition.

He returned to the championship last year in 2018 at Carnoustie, and though he generally performed much better, the 65 from 2011 made that much difference Lewis slid from T30 to T47.

The 65 stroke round was also the lowest score ever by an amateur in a Major, a record he should be proud to hold, and it put him in tied first after the first round alongside Thomas Bjorn from Denmark.

Lewis’ career didn’t have the sudden upshot everyone expected it to have half a decade ago, but he’s aiming to make up for lost time.  Rising from 370th last season to 67th at present.  He’s still only 28, giving him a great chance at rising up through the rankings before he hits his prime.

He’s expected to tee off at The Open 2019 and go home with a top 30 finish.  He might have already shot his best round he can expect at the event, but he won’t be happy without getting much closer to the Claret Jug.

 

Kim Koivu – Young Fin with high hopes on the European Tour

The Helsinki golfer is a very recent addition to the international scene.  Koivu played on the European PGA’s Challenge Tour for just a few months before getting his third win, which gave him an automatic promotion to the European Tour.

He won the events in China, Switzerland and his native Finland, and proving he can take victories on different course types and weather conditions.  Versatility is a huge strength, particularly at Royal Portrush, where the course is designed to be as tricky as can be and the sea wind is anything but predictable.

He’s confident in his ability, and has proven it too.  Despite only turning pro at the age of 26 (since he first picked up his clubs at 16), he’s quickly risen to prominence.  Perhaps his most impressive win was the Vierumäki Finnish Challenge, where he shot rounds of 70-65-66-66 – pretty impressive.

Until 2018 he had been teetering on the far side of position 1700 in the OWGR, but has since been performing around the 200th mark.

Koivu’s time on the European Tour has been brief, but with an adaptable game and a history of great performances, there’s a good chance he can make it to the top of the field at The 148th Open.

 

Shubhankar Sharma – Indian European Tour Rookie of the Year 2018

A young prospect from India, Sharma is one to watch in 2019.  Being named by the European PGA the Tour Rookie of the Year in 2018 was an accomplishment he not only should be proud of but it was also unequivocally deserved.  He took home two tour wins in the form of the Joburg Open and the Maybank Championship, and has taken top positions on a few more occasions in since 2017.  Perhaps most notably was him finishing T9th finish at the WGC Mexico Championship.

In The Masters last year Sharma was cut from the tournament after the second round.  Despite performing well in the second round, his first round cost him dearly and he wasn’t able to make it on to the next.

He’s certain to be making an appearance at The Open this year and will hope to better his T51 from Carnoustie.

 

Xander Schauffele – Three PGA Tour titles at 25

Young Californian Schauffele has done a good job making his name known among fans across the PGA Tour.  Not only for picking up three tour wins in two years, but also for his somewhat unorthodox and unexpected swing.

Being taught solely by his father in driving technique, his form is unique to him, but the unusual form allows someone with a particularly small frame to power the ball towards the green without a wild or erratic approach.  Picking his right foot up and thrusting his hips into his shot would get him scolded by many coaches, but it’s a style that works well for young Schauffele.

Xander will be looking towards The Open at Royal Portrush with great anticipation.  He took it all the way to tie for second place alongside Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose at The Open in 2018 and hopes to perform similarly in this upcoming major championship.

 

Bryson DeChambeau – The science behind the swing

The Golfing Scientist is doing well for himself heading into 2019.  He’s been in the top ten on the OWGR since August, which was the first time he had his name at the top of that list.

Bryson is another golfer Californian with an unorthodox style like Schauffele, so maybe 2019 will be the year of the weird swings.  His style is again adapted to himself and is based firmly in what is working for him with little regard for conventional advice.  Despite the bizarre and almost flopping motion in the arms and bolt upright torso it’s actually a swing that’s not dissimilar to most other players by the time it strikes the ball.

While known for his consistency, his lack of it was his downfall at The Open in 2018, landing him in an untypically low position of T51.  The young star still has much to learn about performing under high pressure, but with his intense and analytical approach to golf he should pick it up quickly – and maybe teach the rest of the field a lot at the same time.

 

Matt Wallace – Golf is more than just a game

Englishman Wallace is one of the most fiercely competitive men to step on a course at the moment.  Despite a few small holes in his game, he’s gritty and determined enough to work through them at lightning pace and is still improving competition to competition.

He has taken four European Tour victories, three of which came in 2018, and is enjoying his time as a top player in Europe, being ranked 45th in the world and 8th of English players (9th overall in British rankings).

He qualified for the Open in 2018 via his high placing in the Race to Dubai standings, and looks likely to be competing at Royal Portrush.  The course could play well to him, with his tenacious and highly focused mindset the unpredictable external conditions and tricky course architecture shouldn’t bother him as much as it might other players.

Justin Rose was the first Englishman since 2013 to break the top five last year, but it’s possible that Wallace could even swipe past him this year if all of the hard work pays off.

 

Lucas Bjerregaard – Danish star with big things on the horizon

Danish Bjerregaard has had limited success at majors in the past but is currently in the midst of the best performances of his career so far.  He’s won two European Tour titles in the past year and will be looking to make it to The Open in 2019.

The most recent of his Tour wins came at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, where the course should replicate the conditions of Royal Portrush fairly well.  He’s seen career-high Official World Golf Rankings of 45th, and is his performances on the Tour and rankings qualify him for the Masters – let’s hope that he can get through to The Open, too.

 

Joaquin Niemann – Chilean youngster with huge potential

At just twenty years of age, Niemann has every chance of a two-decade career at the top of the game.  His impressive record speaks for itself: he only needed to play five times to get a temporary membership to the PGA Tour, and another three starts to secure a permanent place for the rest of the season.

He is full of potential, and appears to pay huge attention to technique and coaching advice.  It’s still early days to see what might happen to the Chilean, but with so much time ahead of him it’s hard not to imagine him picking up wins at majors in the coming years.  It’s unlikely he will qualify for the 2019 Open, but he has championship material in him and should be featuring at the British major within a couple of years.


Hospitality at The Open

If you’re wanting to witness the next big stars in action at Royal Portrush, doing it from the comfort of our VIP facilities will ensure that you and your guests have the best possible time in Northern Ireland.

View our hospitality at The Open 2019.  Each package available is perfect for celebrating with friends or meeting business clients.  They all offer great hospitality features and are designed to make your time in Royal Portrush as enjoyable as possible.

For more information, or to book, call our hospitality team today on 0121 233 6500.

The Open 2019: Predictions for Royal Portrush

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.

The Open 2019 Golf Preview: What to expect at Royal Portrush

The Open 2019 is expected to be another incredible championship event.  Each year, The Open builds on the last and the 148th event at Royal Portrush Golf Club in County Antrim, Northern Ireland should be no exception.  In 2018, the golf world saw the very best players tee off at Carnoustie, and many of the same golfing greats are expected to appear at Royal Portrush.

This will be Royal Portrush Golf Club’s second time hosting The Open, after previously doing so in 1953.  It is the only venue outside of Scotland and England to have held The Open.  The area is a breeding ground for successful golfers.  The 1947 Open winner Fred Daly and the 2010 US Open winner Graeme McDowell earning their stripes on the links golf courses at Portrush.

So, what are we going to expect at The Open 2019?  If Carnoustie 2018 is anything to go by, we’re in for a treat.  There are many top players on good form with good chances of lifting the Claret Jug at the end of the week.

What happened at The Open at Carnoustie 2018?

Last year was the 147th Open, and it was held at the Carnoustie Golf Links, a golf club in Angus on the east coast of Scotland.

At Carnoustie, The Championship Course is where the Open is held – the links course has held the Open seven times since its inaugural time in 1931.   The golf club has two other 18-hole courses too, the Burnside Course and the Buddon Links Course.  The club at Carnoustie also maintains a free-to-play 6-hole junior course, The Nestie.

Francesco Molinari won The Open, with a stellar performance which put him two strokes under the four men who tied for second place with 278 each.  These were Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Kevin Kisner, and Xander Schauffele.

Molinari’s performance put him at the top of 2018 golf.  The Italian’s older brother, Edoardo Molinari has golfed six times at The Open in the past, with a T7 finish at Royal Liverpool in 2014 being by far his best performance.

With the exception of Molinari, the Open was dominated by British and American golfers.  To see the next player from outside of these countries, we had to go a little further down the rankings to Thorbjorn Olesen.  The Danish golfer happened to beat Molinari on his home turf at the Italian Open just over a month prior to the Carnoustie meeting.

Molinari closed the event with a birdie, grasping his highest ever major finish – surpassing his second place at the 2017 PGA Championship.  McIlroy had was perhaps the most consistent of the top of the leaderboard, having no stand-out rounds to speak of, but performing very well in each.  Justin Rose, on the other hand, was much more unpredictable, with his second and third rounds on the course coming in at 73 and 64 respectively.

What to expect at Royal Portrush 2019: Preview of the 2019 Major

Royal Portrush is one of the most incredible golf courses on Earth, and it frequently appears at the top of lists of the best courses to play on.  Not only is it incredibly well designed, it is also set in some of the most stunning Northern Irish countryside.

We expect to see the return of some of the biggest names in golf to The Open – each year the event is full of the biggest stars in golf.  This is a really exciting time in our sport – there is no one single top contender, and at the majors, it’s anyone’s championship to play for.

While some say they miss the days of a hugely dominant Tiger Woods, the change in guard has really shaken things up.

Brooks Koepka has seen a meteoric rise recently, going from Rookie of the Year in 2014, to winning majors in 2017 and 2018, and looking to increase this tally in 2019.  In 2018, he became one of the biggest names in the sport, not least due to a couple of controversies at the Ryder Cup as every golf fan in the Western was watching.  We expect he will be back at the top of The Open leaderboard in 2019, he won’t be satisfied with his T6 in 2017 and definitely not the T39 in 2018.

Dustin Johnson should also be mentioned here, he has been a huge force in the PGA Tour, as well as international golf, over the past couple of years.  He still has a few good golf years ahead of him before he leaves his prime.  Johnson hasn’t won a major since 2016, but that won’t stop him from continuing to put in the legwork.  He’s been nothing but consistent, keeping at the top of the statistic charts.  Johnson has maintained top position of the PGA strokes gained, birdie average, and the 3, 4, and 5 par scoring.

This will be a special Open for Rory McIlroy.  Getting the chance to put on a show while golfing right on his doorstep in Northern Ireland will be too tempting to miss – The Open is the only European Tour event he is expected to show face at in 2019.

McIlroy hasn’t won a golf major since 2014 now, but you wouldn’t know that looking at the form he’s been on as of late.  Consistently in the top spots at every championship event he’s competed at, McIlroy seems to be on his way to another very soon – and the Open 2019 looks like an opportunity to do just that.

Justin Rose is another Brit we’ll spot at The Open in 2019.  These days Rose only seems to play the big events with a big payday and lots of World Ranking Points.  The tactic seems to be paying off – with time off and focusing on the majors, he’s been performing very well.  Maintaining his spot in the top five of the rankings, he’s been batting off much more active players when it comes to the biggest showdowns – his bank balance and the world ranking position only seem to benefit from this choice.  It would be very surprising to not see Rose at the first tee at Royal Portrush.

Looking down the list at some golfing newcomers, it’s exciting to see what’s in store for Bryson DeChambeau.  The young American only turned professional in 2016 and has already been catching the eye of fans and analysts alike.  With an unusual straight up-and-down swing and a focus on being a ‘golf scientist,’ DeChambeau has his sights set on championships in the future.  The ambition he carries and the challenging course at Royal Portrush seem like a match made in heaven – and give him a chance to put his theories to the test.

 

Favourites to win The Open 2019: the Bookmakers’ Golf Odds

According to the bookies, there are many favourites of recent years who are most likely to take the Claret Jug home in 2019.  As well as these familiar faces, there are a number of newcomers with reasonable odds.

Most notably of the up-and-comers is a well-rounded player in the young Jon Rahm.  The Spanish man performed very well at the start of 2018, appearing second in the world on the Official World Golf Rankings in January, but slipped off the rankings to lower down in the top ten.  If he keeps up the pace we’ve seen from him in recent years, he’s sure to win a major very soon – and the Open on the European Tour might just be where he does it.  The bookies currently have him at 22/1, which might seem harsh given his consistently high ranking, but he’s struggled under pressure at times due to inexperience.

Unsurprisingly, home-town hero McIlroy is given the best odds by bookmakers to win the Open 2019 in Portrush.  He’s shown himself more than capable of the feat, and with the majority of fans in attendance behind him, it’ll be a given that he does well.  Bookmakers are giving him around 10/1 to take home the Open’s Claret Jug, but only time will tell if he rises to the occasion.

The odds look favourably on Tiger Woods too.  The Big Cat is only just behind Northern Irish McIlroy by some bookmakers – and neck-and-neck with others.  Woods hasn’t won an Open since Royal Liverpool 2006, and won prior to that at St Andrews in 2000 and 2005.  Though he tied for sixth in 2018 which means he still has golf championship material left in him.

Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth are all not far behind in the odds – all three being given odds in the region of 15/1 to take home the Claret Jug in 2019 at Royal Portrush, depending on the bookmaker you check.

So with everything to play for, and exciting new players due to make their first major marks on the map, The Open 2019 is due to be one of the best we’ve ever seen.  Those in attendance at Royal Portrush are in for a treat!

If you’re visiting Royal Portrush, our The Open hospitality packages are perfect for entertaining guests and impressing clients.  These VIP experiences are available on each day of The Open.  We are also proud suppliers of golf hospitality at the BMW PGA Championship, and The Masters.

The Open Winners: Most Memorable Champion Golfers

The Open has had many winners since the establishment of the major golf tournament in 1860.  Each winner of The Open is called the Champion Golfer of the Year, and is awarded the Claret Jug, which they may keep until the next tournament.

In the early days, The Open gave the Champions a different trophy – the Challenge Belt.  This was awarded permanently to ‘Young’ Tom Morris, who won the belt three consecutive years (aged only seventeen in the first win).  The Open’s belt was crafted from red leather from Morocco, and fronted with a decorative silver buckle.  The Challenge Belt is now on display at the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse at St Andrews.

The Claret Jug has been won many more times than the three that were required to keep the belt –  Harry Vardon won the competition six times in total, his contemporaries John Henry Taylor and James Braid won The Open five times each.

All The Open Winners since 2000:

  • Francesco Molinari (Italy) Carnoustie 2018
  • Jordan Spieth (United States), Royal Birkdale 2017
  • Henrik Stenson (Sweden), Royal Troon 2016
  • Zach Johnson (United States), St Andrews 2015
  • Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland), Royal Liverpool 2014
  • Phil Mickelson (United States), Muirfield 2013
  • Ernie Els (2) (South Africa), Royal Lytham & St Annes 2012
  • Darren Clarke (Northern Ireland), Royal St George’s 2011
  • Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa), St Andrews 2010
  • Stewart Cink (United States), Turnberry 2009
  • Pádraig Harrington (2) (Ireland), Royal Birkdale 2008
  • Pádraig Harrington (Ireland), Carnoustie 2007
  • Tiger Woods (3) (United States) ,Royal Liverpool 2006
  • Tiger Woods (2) (United States), St Andrews 2005
  • Todd Hamilton (United States), Royal Troon 2004
  • Ben Curtis (United States), Royal St George’s 2003
  • Ernie Els (South Africa), Muirfield 2002
  • David Duval (United States), Royal Lytham & St Annes 2001
  • Tiger Woods (United States), St Andrews 2000

The Open Winners: Most Memorable Victors

Francesco Molinari, The Open Winner of Carnoustie 2018

Francesco Molinari is the reigning champion of The Open.  The Italian is the only man from his country to have held the title of Champion Golfer of the Year, and did so in an impressive fashion.  The Turin man entered 2017 ranked 33rd in the world, but shortly after this began his impressive ascent to the top of the golfing world.

The Italian’s stunning performances across the globe in the past two years have made him one of the most recognisable golfers on Earth.  Not only is he riding high, currently ranked 6th, he’s also become a fan favourite over his 2018 rise to fame.

At The Open, Molinari beat the likes of Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy to claim his first and only Major title.  His style has been consistent and technically praised by coaches and analysts across golf, and this has been a key to the meteoric success.

Francesco’s older brother Edoardo tied for 7th in 2014, won three European Tour titles, the Scottish Open (2010), Scottish PGA Championship at Gleneagles (2010), and Hassan II Golf Trophy.

Rory McIlroy, The Open Winner of Royal Liverpool 2014

McIlroy looked on fire from the start of the event – quickly getting himself towards the top of the leader board.  This hot performance continued throughout the Open, but others weren’t to be discounted right away – many kept up with the Northern Irishman until the last day at Liverpool, but McIlroy proved why he’s considered one of the best in the world and clinched the title.

Rory McIlroy won the title at just twenty-five years of age, and was the third Open winner from Northern Ireland, after Fred Daly and Darren Clarke who battled their way into golf history books in 1947 and 2011 respectively.

Phil Mickelson, The Open Winner of Muirfield 2013

A year prior to McIlroy’s statement that he is to become a long-term staple of international golf, Phill Mickelson used the course at Muirfield to prove he still is.  At forty-three years of age, the American was seen to be in the twilight of his career by many pundits and analysts.   He became the third golfer over forty to win The Open in three consecutive years.

Mickelson dazzled crowds, officials and hospitality guests alike and finished the difficult course three-under.  Having come rrunner-upin the US Open for the sixth year running just a month before, this tournament victory eased the pain of second places for Mickelson.

Mickelson won with his consistent playing – Ian Poulter and Adam Scott took much more than their fair share of media attention for dramatic ups and downs in the competition.  Lee Westwood struggled in the bunkers throughout the tournament, they haunted his time at Muirfield.  Henrick Stenson took a great deal of European attention, too, performing at his best throughout the Open 2013.

Mickelson outclassed all of the competition, proved he’s still got it and took home the Claret Jug.

Tiger Woods, The Open Winner of  St Andrews 2000

A new millennium in the Open was kicked off with a win by the man who would go on to dominate golf rankings in the start of the 2000s, and would still be a major player almost two decades later.

Tiger Woods had already won the Masters (1997) and the US PGA Championship (1999) when he came to St Andrews for the second time, aged just 24.  The last time the great player had stood on the course, he was aged just 19 and placed 68th.

Five years later, he was already on his path to all-time greatness and won, scoring under 70 in each round of play.

John Daly, The Open Winner of St Andrews 1995

One of the most unpredictable golfers, both on and off the course, John Daly had somewhat of a good relationship with the Old Course at St Andrews.  He won the Dunhill Cup in 1993 with Fred Couples and Payne Stewart on the course, and this quality performance in Scotland likely set him up for this 1995 Open win.#

He became an Open winner after a close playoff with Costantino Rocca, despite not even looking close to the favourites prior to the event.

Severiano Ballesteros, The Open Winner of Royal Lytham & St Annes 1988

 This was Seve’s third Open victory, taking home the title previously at St Andrews (1984) and one other time at Royal Lytham & St Annes (1979).  The Spaniard has been one of the most successful golfers in Euorpean history, competing in twenty-eight Opens from 1975 to 2005.

His style was somewhat hit-and-miss, giving fans great excitement when he was playing.  Between the years of 1985 and 1990, he won the competition twice, failed to make the top 30 three times and even didn’t place in the 1990 Open at St Andrews (where he’d won six years prior).  At twenty-two years of age, Seve became the youngest Champion Golfer of the Year of the whole of the 21st Century.

This Open was particularly memorable for being completely rained off on Sunday, meaning the last day of competition was held on the Monday – the first time this had ever happened in 130 years.


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