The third major championship of the year comes hot off the heels of one of the most challenging editions of the U.S. Open in recent memory. Not a single golfer in the entire field was able to finish at par or better throughout the four days, leaving most competitors reeling. But winning a major is never supposed to be easy, and an even bigger test at the Carnoustie Championship Course awaits golf's best. The Open Championship is returning to the devilish course for the first time since 2007, and this year's competition should be no simpler.
Whether it's the high winds or tight turns of the course, Carnoustie will play the main villain at The Open 2018.
So, who comes out of the weekend as the hero? Several top names have entered the mix as favorites, but only one will be able to sit above the rest on the leaderboard. Let's take a look at our picks for the top contenders at The Open Championship 2018.
The world's No.1 player comes into The Open Championship as the odds on favorite to take home the Claret Jug. While considered the best player on the planet, Johnson only has one major championship to his name -- the 2016 U.S. Open. At 34 years old, Johnson has plenty of time to add more major trophies to his singular collection, but the sole championship is still surprising given his dominant play over the past couple of years.
Luckily for Johnson, Carnoustie could present an opportunity to get that second major championship under his belt. He's coming off of a third place finish at the U.S. Open and played consistently for three of the four days at Shinnecock Hills. Look for Johnson to carry that momentum forward into Carnoustie. But the real key? Johnson drives the ball low from the tee, which could give him an advantage against the vicious wins that control the play at Carnoustie. If he continually keeps the ball low and doesn't sacrifice power on his drive, expect Johnson to be in contention on the final day.
Is there such a thing as home continent advantage? If so, Tommy Fleetwood might be a solid pick to win The Open. The long-haired English golfer has opted for rest instead of competing in prep links event prior to this year's major championship. It's up in the air whether the layoff is beneficial or harmful to Fleetwood's performance at Carnoustie, but only time will tell.
Fleetwood is still in the limelight after an almost unthinkable comeback in the final round of the U.S. Open. He shot a 63 on Sunday as he chased down leader Brooks Koepka throughout the day. Unfortunately for Fleetwood, Koepka was still able to edge him out, but the immaculate Sunday performance still remains.
There's no way around it that the golfer nicknamed "Captain America" has been dominating on American soil this year. But can Patrick Reed see the same sort of success when he travels over the Atlantic? While it's still to be seen whether Reed can fare well in an international major, he has put his money where his mouth is in the first two majors of the year. Reed silenced all the doubters at Augusta National® this year by winning his first Green Jacket and followed that up by finishing fourth at Shinnecock Hills. While Fleetwood was hot on the comeback trail in the final day of the U.S. Open, it's important to also remember that Reed was on fire that day, too, shooting for birdie on five of his first seven holes.
The world's No.4 player also happens to be coming off of the second major championship of his career. With a conquest at Shinnecock Hills in June, Koepka became the first player since Curtis Strange in 1989 to win back-to-back U.S. Open championships. Koepka can also take heart in the fact that he reigned victorious on a course that is right up there in difficulty with Carnoustie. Now, to stay that consistent over the course of two straight majors will be difficult, but Koepka has proved his doubters wrong before.
The one aspect of Koepka's game that may be kryptonite to his chance at victory is how high he drives the ball. In contrast to Johnson, Koepka gets really good air under his drives and the wind conditions at Carnoustie may take control of the ball easily. We'll have to see whether Koepka adjusts his approach or not -- a chance at a third major championship is at stake.
It's the same conversation every single time that a major championship rolls around. "This has to be the time for Rickie Fowler to get his first." And while Fowler is coming off of a T-20th place finish in the U.S. Open after shooting an 84 in the third round, he should be a name that sticks around in contention at Carnoustie.
Fowler has gotten past the original hype around his persona from his younger days and is now a consistent name at the top of every leaderboard. He comes into Carnoustie with a desire to finally get the major championship monkey off of his back, but this course would be the ultimate way to do it.
Major Championship No.2 is coming to Dustin Johnson. This is the perfect stage for golf's best player to cement that title and put the rest of the competition on watch. Johnson has been edging towards his second major championship over the past year, and it feels like the time is just right. His style of play matches well with the oddity of Carnoustie and gives him an advantage before even teeing off on the first hole. Watch out -- it's Dustin Johnson time.
Be at The Open 2018
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