The Open Championship: Talking points ahead of Carnoustie

Golf
Jordan Spieth with the Claret Jug
Jordan Spieth with the Claret Jug

Jordan Spieth will defend his Open Championship title at Carnoustie as the year's third major takes place from July 19-22. Here, Press Association Sport looks at five talking points ahead of the tournament.

Will US dominance of the majors be broken?

Patrick Reed's victory in the Masters and Brooks Koepka's successful title defence in the US Open means American players currently hold all four major titles, as well as all the transatlantic team competitions. American players have won three of the last five Open Championships, with Henrik Stenson lifting the Claret Jug in 2016 and Rory McIlroy doing so two years earlier.

Can Spieth become the first back-to-back winner for a decade?

Padraig Harrington was the last player to make a successful title defence, following his play-off victory over Sergio Garcia at Carnoustie in 2007 with a four-shot win at Royal Birkdale 12 months later. However, Spieth has struggled for consistent form this season, finishing third in the Masters after a closing 64 but also missing four cuts in 16 starts, including at the US Open.

Is a shock winner possible?

Since Darren Clarke and Keegan Bradley won the last two majors of 2011 when ranked 111th and 108th in the world respectively, the lowest-ranked winner of any major has been Jimmy Walker, who was 48th when he won the 2016 US PGA Championship. The 2017 major winners were ranked 11th, 22nd, third and 14th, while Reed was 24th before his victory in the Masters and Koepka ninth at Shinnecock Hills. The days of Ben Curtis (396), Shaun Micheel (169) and YE Yang (110) appear to be over.

What next for Tiger Woods?

Woods has not played the Open since missing the cut at St Andrews in 2015 and his last major title came in 2008. But his remarkable recovery from spinal fusion surgery means the 42-year-old's bid for a fourth Claret Jug cannot be overlooked. Woods was seventh at Carnoustie in 1999 and 12th in 2007, while he also played the course in the 1995 Scottish Open as an amateur. The 14-time major winner bounced back from a missed cut in the US Open with a tie for fourth in the Quicken Loans National.

Will "Car-nasty" rear its ugly head again?

A severe course set-up and bad weather combined to make the 1999 Open the toughest in living memory, with Paul Lawrie eventually winning in a play-off after finishing tied with Jean van de Velde and Justin Leonard on six over par. Lessons were learnt when the Open returned in 2007, with Harrington defeating Garcia in a play-off after the pair had finished tied on seven under. And with the USGA coming in for stinging criticism over their approach in the recent US Open, the R&A will be determined to avoid similar mistakes.

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