There will be no defending champion at the Open this year at St Andrews, as world No. 1 Rory McIlroy will be absent through injury.
However, that will do little to diminish the spectacle on the Old Course—the Home of Golf. Arguably the world's most in-form sportsman heads the betting, as America's Jordan Spieth aims to complete the third leg of a calendar Grand Slam.
The 2015 Masters and U.S. Open champion is undoubtedly the favourite, but compatriot Rickie Fowler is also in fine form having won the Scottish Open.
Perhaps the best hope for a British winner is Justin Rose, while Dustin Johnson is also among the favourites and will be looking to respond to his calamitous final-green collapse at Chambers Bay.
Here are the odds for the top contenders ahead of golf's most storied and prestigious competition along with predictions for how the players will fare.
|2015 Open Championship Odds|
Undoubtedly the man to beat heading to St Andrews, Spieth is in winning form, coming to the Open having won a playoff to claim the John Deere Classic on Sunday.
He drew criticism from some quarters for eschewing the possibility to prepare on a links course, but his Illinois victory will give him even more confidence heading to the Old Course.
As noted by SportsCenter, Spieth joined elite company when he triumphed on Sunday:
Tiger Woods won three majors in 2000, a feat Spieth is trying to replicate—and perhaps better—in 2015.
There is no doubt that the world No. 2 will be in the mix come Sunday in Fife, Scotland, but his decision to not take part in the Scottish Open at Gullane could count against him considering the other in-form players in the field.
Furthermore, the pressure and attention on the 21-year-old is now huge, and although he will compete at the top once more, a third consecutive major victory looks out of reach.
Predicted finish: top five
England's Rose broke onto the scene at an Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in 1998 when he locked up a fourth-place finish as an amateur.
He has never bettered that result in an Open, but this looks to be the year when he does improve on his performance as an 18-year-old.
His latest outing as defending champion at the Scottish Open at Gullane started well, as he shot consecutive 66s but fell off somewhat at the weekend.
The form is there for Rose, though, and he is clearly confident heading to St Andrews, per the Daily Star's Steve Millar:
I’ve improved over the last few years and I think I’m in the middle of the prime of my career. I have four or five very good years behind me and I think I can have four or five great years ahead of me. I believe that I’m going to have plenty of chances to win Major championships and that I’m going to put myself in contention many times over the next five years.
He put himself in contention at the Masters in April, but Spieth's bravura performance saw Rose finish second in the end.
The home advantage, the experience and the confidence he has gained since winning his first major—at the 2013 U.S. Open—should see him go one better at St Andrews and become the second British winner in as many years.
Predicted finish: winner
Johnson had a putt to win the U.S. Open a month ago. He missed it, and the one back, and handed Spieth the title without forcing a playoff.
Such a situation is surely difficult to come back from, and Johnson will have a constant reminder of his Chambers Bay failings in the first two rounds on the Old Course, per ESPN's Jason Sobel:
The 31-year-old undoubtedly has the game to win a major championship, but it is legitimate now to question whether he has the mind for it.
The Old Course will offer Johnson the opportunity to redeem himself, and Golf.com's Alan Shipnuck is tipping the American to win, calling to mind John Daly's 1995 triumph at St Andrews.
However, his U.S. Open travails are surely just a little too fresh in the memory for him to storm St Andrews and take the win.
While he will surely be around at the weekend—he has too much quality to implode and miss the cut—it would be a surprise if he was within a shout of victory come Sunday.
Predicted finish: outside top 20