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British Open 2019: Latest Pre-Tournament Comments, Odds and Predictions

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IIJuly 16, 2019

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy practices during the 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 16, 2019. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE        (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

Golf's final major of 2019 begins on Thursday, with local favourite Rory McIlroy and PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka the favourites to win the British Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.

Italy's Francesco Molinaro will be out to defend his title but is seen as an outsider for victory, while Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods and Justin Rose are also among the favourites.

Woods completed a remarkable comeback to win the 2019 Masters in Augusta and clinch his first major title in 11 years, but he heads to Northern Ireland having not played since finishing 21st at the U.S. Open in June.

     

Latest Odds

Rory McIlroy: 9-1

Brooks Koepka: 10-1

Jon Rahm: 16-1

Dustin Johnson: 16-1

Tiger Woods: 20-1

Justin Rose: 22-1

Xander Schauffele: 25-1

Odds courtesy of Oddschecker
    

   

The tournament could be an emotional one for McIlroy, who shot a 61 at Royal Portrush as a 16-year-old to break the course record.

The 30-year-old has not won a major tournament since claiming victory at the 2014 PGA Championship but has said victory on home soil would be special, per BBC Sport.

"I don't get that emotional in golf. I can separate the emotion from it and the logic, but if it were to happen, it would take a lot for me to not to burst out crying."

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy practices during the 148th Open golf Championship at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 16, 2019. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE        (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Get
GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

McIlroy will face competition from a host of big names including Koepka. The American has won four of golf's last nine majors but has never lifted the Claret Jug.

Koepka finished second at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach behind Gary Woodland but is only interested in winning, per Fox Sports Asia.

"I hold myself to high expectations. The whole reason I show up is to win. That’s what I’m trying to do," he said. "It's incredible, but at the same time, it’s been quite disappointing. Finishing second sucks, it really does."

Meanwhile, Woods has spoken about how he messaged Koepka to ask if he wanted to play a practice round at Royal Portrush but is still waiting for a reply:

SI Golf @SI_Golf

Tiger Woods texted Brooks Koepka to ask him if he'd want to play a practice round together. Brooks didn't respond. 😳😳😳 This guy means business. https://t.co/XBlvogPWpO

Three-time Open champion Woods has also played down concerns about his lack of tournament golf ahead of the British Open, per Simon Evans at Reuters.

"Last year, I played too much. I played 17 events. And a lot of it was trying to qualify for certain events. So this year I made a conscious effort to cut back on my schedule to make sure that I don't play too much. I want to play here as long as I possibly can. And you have to understand, if I play a lot, I won't be out here that long."

Defending champion Molinari is another player looking forward to the British Open and said he "can't wait" to get started in Northern Ireland:

Sky Sports Golf @SkySportsGolf

"I can't wait." @F_Molinari reflects on his breakthrough major victory at #TheOpen and looks ahead to this year's contest at Royal Portrush. 📺 Watch all four days of the #TheOpen live on Sky Sports The Open from 6.30am on Thursday

Padraig Harrington was the last golfer to retain the Claret Jug in 2008, and Molinari will have the added demands of having to cope with the expectations that come with being the defending champion.

     

Prediction

All eyes will be on McIlroy at Royal Portrush, meaning the Northern Irishman must deal with increased pressure as he goes in search of his second British Open win. Meanwhile, Koepka has been the dominant force in major tournaments and looks to be the man to beat again this time around.

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