For the first time since 1951, The Open is returning to the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland.
With The 148th Open being the final Major championship of the 2019 season, all eyes are on who will take home the biggest championship remaining on the calendar. The year has been filled with heroic performances and history-making moments, but there's still room for more.
As the game's best head overseas to compete in golf's only international Major, let's take a look at the top contenders to win The 2019 Open.
Golfers To Watch At The 148th Open
The world's best player is on the precipice of history heading into Royal Portrush.
With two victories in the U.S. Open and PGA Championship to his name, Brooks Koepka is aiming to add the third part of golf's Grand Slam to his resume at The Open 2019.
Koepka's Major Championship performances have been other-worldy over the last couple of years. The 29-year old has finished in the Top 10 in 10 of his last 15 Major Championship outings and is one of seven players in history to finish in the top two of the year's first three Major Championships.
After coming just inches away from chasing down Tiger Woods at The Masters 2019, Koepka went on to win Major No.4 by dominating the Black Course at Bethpage (including a record-setting first round) to win the 2019 PGA Championship. Then, at the 2019 U.S. Open, Koepka almost usurped eventual winner Gary Woodland, settling in second.
Unless the unexpected happens, bank on Koepka being in play for the Claret Jug on Sunday, whether it be as the frontrunner or as the man chasing down the competition from behind.
Few golfers know Royal Portrush quite like Rory McIlroy.
Growing up in Holywood, Northern Ireland, McIlroy played the course hundreds of times growing up, learning its ins-and-outs before even considering becoming a pro.
At the age of 16, McIlroy set the course record at Royal Portrush, shooting an immaculate 61, three strokes ahead of the then-record. At Royal Portrush, McIlroy's unbelievable scorecard still hangs on the walls of the clubhouse.
But McIlroy's familiarity with the course isn't the only reason that many are predicting him to leave his home country with the Claret Jug — the Northern Irishman has been on a tear throughout most of 2019, winning THE PLAYERS Championship in March and the RBC Canadian Open at the start of June.
Since the calendar turned over, McIlroy has 11 Top 10 finishes, including a T8 finish at the PGA Championship and a T9 finish at the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
With the mix of recent success and the home course advantage, McIlroy will be one to watch at Royal Portrush.
No moment this season will top Tiger Woods' gutsy performance to win The Masters and claim his first Major Championship in 11 years.
However, golf's biggest star is still on a mission to get to Major No.16 and his next chance comes at Royal Portrush.
Woods will be well-rested heading into The 148th Open, as he announced that he'll be skipping the inaugural 3M Championship before going to Northern Ireland. That means that he'll have about a month off before his first round at Royal Portrush on Thursday.
While Woods' injury history has given him more justification for time off, it could put him at a disadvantage. Since winning The Masters, he's only competed in the PGA Championship, the Memorial Tournament and the U.S. Open. Woods' failed to make the cut after a dismal performance at the PGA Championship, but put together a good showing at both of the latter two events.
The layoff could leave his body ready to stay in the mix at Royal Portrush, but there's not a lot to go off. Regardless, everyone can agree that it's good to have golf's greatest predator back on the hunt.
The sleeper pick for The Open 2019 might not be a sleeper if you've been paying attention all year.
Patrick Cantlay has laid the groundwork to jump into contention at Royal Portrush after a 2019 campaign that has given him the momentum needed to grab the Claret Jug.
The 27-year old is part of the insane under-30 club currently taking over the sport, but hasn't reached the notoriety of Koepka or his ilk just yet.
Cantlay has had a terrific Major season so far, finishing T9 at Augusta National, T3 at the PGA Championship and T21 at the U.S. Open last month. Overall, he's secured eight Top 10 finishes in 2019 so far and won the Memorial Tournament in June. Cantlay currently has the top scoring average on the PGA Tour and has the fourth highest birdie average (4.42).
A T12 finish at The Open last year proved that Cantlay can adapt to tough courses across the sea, but the challenge of Royal Portrush still awaits him. While his trajectory has him headed in the right direction, it's unknown whether he can take the final step and put the finishing(and winning) touches on a Major Championship performance.
If you’re aiming to find a European winner not named McIlroy, Jon Rahm may be your ace in the hole.
The Spaniard is coming off an effective outing at Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open, finishing T3 after a final day 68 that propelled him into title contention.
Rahm's sole victory in 2019 came in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in April, but he's produced inspiring performances throughout most of the year. While failing to make the cut at the PGA Championship, Rahm started Major season off with a bang by finishing T9 at The Masters.
He has 10 Top 10 finishes so far in 2019 and The Open could be what the string of impressive performances has been leading to. If there is a mark against Rahm, though, it's that his best finish ever at golf's only international Major is a T44 in 2017.
Attend The Open 2019 with The Open Experiences
Don't miss history in the making when The 148th Open tees off at Royal Portrush. There is currently limited availability for Single Day Packages from The Open Experiences, featuring hospitality at the 1st Fairway VIP Hospitality Pavilion, insider experiences and much more.