If you thought England’s performance at Euro 2016 was bad – you’d want to see their golfers’ record at their ‘home’ Major.
The last time an English pro won the Open Championship, Manchester United were crowned the Premier League’s first champions, Barcelona was about to host the Olympics and Pablo Escobar has just escaped from his luxury prison. Again.
It was 1992 and Nick ‘no mates’ Faldo triumphed at Muirfield. But since then it’s been a mixture of Yanks, Paddy’s, a Scot and quite a few South African’s who’ve kept the engraver busy.
Will it be same again at Royal Troon? Here’s the 8 players you’re backing with Paddy Power ahead of this week’s Open Championship.
1. Lee Westwood
It’s a perennial question a – bit like what is Kim Kardashian’s actual job – but will the World no 49 ever win a Major? The 43-year-old isn’t finished yet though as he showed when T2 at Augusta in April and T32 at Oakmont last month.
But it’s his ‘home’ Major that has eluded him most, having posted four top five finishes in 14 attempts, including when fourth at Royal Troon in 2004.
His experience should see him hang in when others fall away, but needs to get hotter with the flat stick if he’s to be a real contender come Sunday.
2. Shane Lowry
Things didn’t exactly go according to plan A for Lowry at Castle Stuart as he failed to make the weekend at the Scottish Open. But the rotund Irish pro has enough links experience in his locker to be excused a blip and proved he had the cajones grande to take on the big test when taking a four-shot lead into the final day of the US Open.
If he’s erased that they soon turned to cajones pequeno when Dustin Johnson put the squeeze on, Lowry can get competitive again in the third Major. Needs to keep calm and carry on in early salvos as he’s out with Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose (9.03am). And they don’t scare easily.
Was the best-backed in Paddy’s book on Tuesday night – but the posse is closing fast.
3. Justin Rose
Gave the Yanks a taste of their own medicine by winning the US Open in 2013 but needs to master the windier version now.
Rose looked a shoo-in to win an Open after finishing fourth as a 17-year-old amatuer on debut in 1998 but had to wait until last year to post his next best finish when sixth to Zach Johnson.
With a top 5 finish at one time or another in all four Majors he has the nous to go close – provided his game – and a troublesome back – holds out for all four days at Troon.
4. Sergio Garcia
The golf punter’s equivalent of marmite, but when it comes to the Open Championship, Sergio is always a contender – and could be crowned champ at Royal Troon.
Rediscovered his Mojo when banking his ninth PGA Tour win at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May after a four-year win-less drought Stateside.
But it’s his form in the Open Championship that has got punters jiggy for El Nino with eight top 10 finishes – including second and sixth in the past two seasons – leading many to think this could be HIS year. Again.
5. Dustin Johnson
From zero to hero in four short days. It’s amazing how many people who questioned DJ’s bottle on June 16th before he teed it up in the US Open are now ready to give him ‘Tiger’ status as he chases his third tournament on the bounce. A first Major win at Oakmont after his fair share of bad luck and just plain bad shots seems to have lifted a burden from DJ’s shoulders.
Being able to hit the ball long and straight AT THE SAME TIME means he’ll hold a considerable advantage over most of the field in Scotland.
If DJ’s ‘grip-it and rip-it’ approach kicks in he could have playing partners Martin Kaymer and Russell Knox looking more inadequate than Roy Hodgson by the end of day one.
6. Rory McIlroy
Macca hates not performing in Majors more than he hates mosquitoes and the 2014 Open champ will be buzzing to get back on the trophy trail after missing last year’s title defence with an ankle injury.
An emotional win at the K Club in May seemed to indicate that he had conquered the changes to his game, but after going low in the Open de France to hit the front, the old doubts started emerged again.
Swerved the Scottish Open to hit the range and Macca needs a bold show after Spieth, Day and now even Dustin Johnson leap-frog him in the world rankings.
7. Branden Grace
A links guru who looked like he was going all the way in last weekend’s Scottish Open before a third-round brain fart saw him tumble down the leaderboard.
The South African has been ticking away nicely all season after defending his European title at a windy Doha at the start of the year, followed up with a first PGA win at Harbour Town and was T5 at the US Open last month at Oakmont.
Will hope to do some scoring early on Thursday before the wind wakes up, even if it does mean listening to Patrick Reed at 8am.
8. Adam Scott
The ban on belly-putters was to signal the beginning of the end of the affable Aussie’s career this season, but after a couple of runner-up spots early doors, Scott went back-to-back at the Honda Classic and WGC-Cadillac Championship to creep back inside the World’s Top 10.
Has been quieter of late, but the 2013 Masters champ – who threw away a four-shot lead at this tourney in 2012 boasts form figures of 10-5-3-2 at the last four Open Championships. Being nicely punted in as tee-off approaches.