The Open: Player-by-player guide to the field

The Open returns to Birkdale
The Open returns to Birkdale

Ben Coley profiles every player in the field for golf's Open Championship, which begins on Thursday at Royal Birkdale.

Open Championship: Related content


Ben Coley's outright Open betting tips
Ben Coley's specials preview
Open Championship tee-times
Full Open Championship guide
Player quotes from Royal Birkdale

AN, Byeong-hun

Classy youngster who won the 2015 BMW PGA Championship as a European Tour rookie and has since mixed his schedule with PGA Tour events. T26 down the coast at Hoylake on his first Open start as a pro, also made the cut last year, but yet to be a factor in a major. Matter of time, though, for this former US amateur champion. (Sky Bet 150/1)

BADDELEY, Aaron

Once the bright young thing of Aussie golf but too erratic to capitalise on one of the best putting strokes there ever has been. Still wins his share but very hard to predict and only in here thanks to a big performance at the right time in last year’s Australian Open. Best effort in this event a share of 69th and he’s had seven tries, while recent form is worrying. Take him on in three-balls – you probably won’t have the chance to come Saturday’s two-balls. (Sky Bet 500/1)

BERGER, Daniel

Twice a PGA Tour winner now and knows how to play in the wind, hailing as he does from Florida. In limited major starts he’s already managed a top 10 (2016 Masters) but his links experience is pretty much limited to a missed cut at St Andrews two years ago, a course which probably suits better than Birkdale. Big talent but likely lacks the knowhow for this test and fact he thinks England is Scotland and Scotland is England would be a concern. (Sky Bet 66/1)

BJORK, Alexander

Progressive Swede who qualified via third place in the Open de France, second top-five finish of the year. Sole Challenge Tour win came a week after last year’s Open and said there he’d been inspired by Henrik Stenson, but prospects of becoming the second men’s major champion from Sweden appear slim. (Sky Bet 300/1)

BLAND, Adam

Snuck in via third-place finish in the Mizuno Open, part of The Open Qualifying Series. Plays most of his golf on the Japan Tour and holding his form well, but a long way short of top-class and missed the cut in two Open Championship appearances, most recently in 2015. Unlikely to be any kind of factor except in a ‘Top Bland’ market. (Sky Bet 1000/1)

BLAND, Richard

Returns to the Open for the first time since 1998 (also at Birkdale) thanks to a superbly consistent 2017, in which he contended for that elusive first European Tour win on various occasions. Not in the same form this year until out-of-the-blue second in Germany, so while he’s got the right game for the test it’d be a little surprising were he to get anywhere close to the top of the leaderboard come the weekend. (Sky Bet 400/1)

BROADHURST, Paul

Midlander who won European Tour titles in the 80s, 90s and 00s, but has enjoyed even greater success since switching to seniors’ golf. Indeed, he’s in here thanks to a brave victory in the Senior Open Championship at Carnoustie last year and could be a factor in the top senior market at least. (Sky Bet 1000/1)

BRYAN, Wesley

Former YouTube trick-shot star now a bona fide PGA Tour player, winning the RBC Heritage earlier this season. It’s one of the events that best resembles UK links golf and his accuracy/putting blend worked the oracle, as it could here for a time. Slightly concerned he’ll disgrace himself in the fashion stakes but rapid improver can’t be totally dismissed having returned to form with timely T3 at the John Deere Classic. (Sky Bet 250/1)

BULLE, Kent

Successful defence of his Argentina Open title earned this American a second major start, having missed the cut in the US Open at Oakmont last summer. Struggling to get competitive on the Web.com Tour this season which highlights the scale of the task at hand. (Sky Bet 1500/1)

CABRERA-BELLO, Rafa

Finally ended a drought of over five years with victory in the Scottish Open on Sunday, adding to a solid bank of links form. That owed plenty to a helping hand from Callum Shinkwin, but Cabrera-Bello played the golf of his life in the final round and was particularly impressive in the play-off. Sat second after day one at Muirfield in 2013 so it’s easy to envisage him starting well again, and likelihood that he sticks around must be significantly increased following a win which had been coming. Each-way chance. (Sky Bet 55/1)

CANTER, Laurie

Somerset pro who showed plenty of promise as an amateur but, now 27, is still seeking to establish himself on the European Tour. Shot 81-79 at St Andrews in 2010 and while he’s a better player now, as evidenced by some decent golf in South Africa at the start of the year, hard to expect a great deal more despite Final Qualifying effort. (Sky Bet 1000/1)

CASEY, Paul

Third-person stalwart who will smile in that horribly annoying way whether things are going extremely well or extremely poorly, a contrast we saw take place during the US Open. Three years since last win but it was under links conditions and he was seventh here in 2008, before taking third at St Andrews two years later. A live contender, terrifying a notion though that is, having shared fifth last time out, but does struggle to get the job done in lower grades than this one. (Sky Bet 33/1)

CASTRO, Roberto

Deep-thinking, straight-hitting Georgian who gets a second crack at the Open and you suspect he’ll relish the opportunity. Has gone close in a number of PGA Tour events and was 12th in the 2013 PGA Championship, but generally quiet of late. If he does show up it’ll probably be on day one only, even though his ability to find a fairway will help at Birkdale. (Sky Bet 500/1)

CHANG, Yikeun

USC graduate who won his first professional title at the Korean Open, in the process qualifying for the Open. Asking too much for him to do anything this time but a name to watch out for in future. (Sky Bet 1000/1)

CHAPPELL, Kevin

So close to winning last year’s TOUR Championship but remained a long-standing maiden until winning this year’s Valero Texas Open at the expense of subsequent US Open winner Brooks Koepka. Class act who hits the ball beautifully and has a very solid major record in the US. Only played this once, when 53rd last year, and capable of improving on that. (Sky Bet 150/1)

CIANCHETTI, Luca

Winner of the European Amateur Championship last summer and remained in the unpaid ranks to take up this invite. A winner on the Alps Tour at 19 years of age and clearly has lots of scope. Recent semi-finalist in the Amateur Championship and amateurs have gone very close in this, including compatriot Matteo Manassero. (Sky Bet 1000/1)

CINK, Stewart

Lovely man, yet the least popular Open champion in history, having mugged old Tom Watson at Turnberry in 2009. Winless since, but knocking on the door following some pretty dramatic swing changes and wouldn’t be a total surprise to see him figure, albeit record of 66-MC at Birkdale tempers enthusiasm and second major title surely now out of reach. (Sky Bet 250/1)

CLARKE, Darren

Popular winner of this event in 2011 after years of trying. Days of being one of the Tour’s elite ball-strikers long gone, however, and while 30th at Troon last year remains more likely to shoot a pair of high scores and bid farewell as the sun sets on Friday night in the way that other ceremonial golfers do. Also an injury doubt and any price you like in any market you like. (Sky Bet 1500/1)

CONNELLY, Austin

Rising star of Canadian golf but this is too much, too soon and missed cut on the Challenge Tour a week prior to the Open says it all really. Still one to watch for the future. (Sky Bet 500/1)

DALY, John

Part-time country singer who won at St Andrews in 1995, four years on from his shock PGA Championship success. More recently, landed first Champions Tour title in May but in Opens away from St Andrews he’s always going to be a virtual shoo-in to miss the cut. (Sky Bet 1000/1)

DAY, Jason

Hypochondriac whose ‘I’m not feeling great’ shtick wears thin. Slow as a boat, too, so it’s a good job he seems like a good egg. Otherwise, excellent player who has no weaknesses on-song, albeit iron play has been worryingly poor this year and struggles when he can’t choose driver off the tee. Not exactly suited to links golf either (hits it high; St Andrews best) so probably one to overlook even if second major remains likely to arrive at some stage. (Sky Bet 33/1)

DEAN, Joe

Ambitious 23-year-old from Hillsborough who came through Final Qualifying to earn a place in the field. Sole taste of something resembling this came in 2012 KLM Open when, as an 18-year-old, he only narrowly missed the weekend. Hasn’t appeared to be in peak condition on the EuroPro Tour lately, though, and girlfriend caddie may only need to bear the weight for 36 holes. (Sky Bet 1000/1)

DECHAMBEAU, Bryson

The Golfing Scientist, whose irons are all the same length and named after things like chemical elements. Emerged in 2016 Masters when contending to a point as an amateur and has wasted no time since turning professional, collecting a Web.com Tour title last autumn and breaking through on the PGA Tour just this Sunday. Ability to make a clutch putt already marks him out as something special and long-game is outstanding so no surprise to see him go well if able to go again after emotional, validating high at the John Deere. (Sky Bet 150/1)

DINWIDDIE, Robert

Another late qualifier, Dinwiddie has otherwise been in abysmal form all year. In fact, it’s just over 12 months now since his last top 10 finish which suggests that one of the more admired putting strokes on the circuit is being seriously let down by other departments. (Sky Bet 1000/1)

DODT, Andrew

Held on grimly to secure a first major start thanks to fourth place in Scotland, which should help him get over the fact he led by two early in the final round. Has some form in the wind but confessed to being emotionally drained on Sunday and may not be prepared for this challenge. (Sky Bet 300/1)

DRYSDALE, David

Final-round 63 for third place in the Irish Open earned him an Open spot and this arrow-straight driver is unlikely to disgrace himself. Made the cut on sole previous start at Turnberry and easy to see him sticking around for a place just inside the top 50 if all goes to plan. (Sky Bet 400/1)

DUFNER, Jason

Former US PGA champion who collected another title earlier this season at the Memorial Tournament. Made five cuts in succession in the Open and arrow-straight game should be well-suited to Birkdale, but lack of creativity and confidence around the greens a definite negative. Likely to finish somewhere mid-pack. (Sky Bet 125/1)

DUVAL, David

Former world number one who was a brilliant winner of this in 2001, his final title of note. Now better known for his commentary but scuppered many a two-ball acca when shooting third-round 67 at St Andrews just two years ago. (Sky Bet 2000/1)

ELLIS, Harry

Came from three down with three to play to win the Amateur Championship in June, adding to an English Amateur success he secured in 2011 at just 16 years old – a record-breaking feat. Attended the same university as recent US Open winner Brooks Koepka and, after a difficult time personally, hopes remain high that he can use this and next year’s Masters invite as a springboard to a successful professional career. In the meantime, must be a contender for top amateur. (Sky Bet 750/1)

Find out why Ben is backing Ellis at four-figure prices

ELS, Ernie

A giant of the game in every respect and it’s only five years since he so famously swept the rug from underneath Adam Scott’s feet for his second Claret Jug. Finished seventh here in 2008 despite opening 80 and was also competitive in 1998, so with the odd positive of late there will be those willing to speculate. Can certainly go well for a while. (Sky Bet 300/1)

Ben has Els onside in his Open specials betting preview

FICHARDT, Darren

Won the Joburg Open to seal a sixth Open invite but the previous five all ended in missed cuts, including here in 2008. Some of his best golf has come since his last attempt, however, and he is at least accurate and good on the greens, so some improvement could be forthcoming. Not in a million years a major winner, though. (Sky Bet 750/1)

FINAU, Tony

In after Ben Curtis withdrew and might be a live contender having been 18th on Open debut last year. That's three top-20 finishes in five major starts for a player with film-star looks (Tony Curtis? Hilarious...) whose sole PGA Tour win came by the sea. Lord knows how he finds time to practice given that he's a father of half a dozen but good luck to him. Hits it miles, but you knew that. (Sky Bet 150/1)

FISHER, Ross

Dresses like Rory and loves fast cars/loud music, despite otherwise carrying himself like a potential partner for the main character in the next instalment of Bridget Jones. Doesn’t stop him hitting the ball superbly well and has previous in the Open, having been in front early on in the final round back in 2009 following good effort here the previous year. Solid season so far and so often on the fringes in big events such as this one so, while some big numbers found their way onto his scorecard in Scotland, looks an interesting outsider. (Sky Bet 80/1)

FITZPATRICK, Matthew

Towards the top of a very good bunch of young English golfers and at 22, already winning quality events including last year’s DP World Tour Championship. Accurate off the tee and putts really well, made the cut in both majors this year and should better last year’s disappointment at Troon. Not many of his age even threaten to win the Open, but not many are anywhere near as well suited to it, although it must be said hasn’t been firing on all cylinders lately. (Sky Bet 70/1)

FLEETWOOD, Tommy

Local lad who started the season with a bang, winning in Abu Dhabi, then bagged the two biggest finishes of his career in the WGC-Mexico Championship and the US Open, before winning again in France. Elite-level ball-striker with a brilliant attitude while he’s also got loads of links form in the bag. This therefore comes down to managing expectations and that’s a huge challenge – he’ll be a very popular name in the run-up to tee-off and, at this level, that’s alien territory. Impressive if he goes close again but certainly has the ability. Price has long gone, though. (Sky Bet 22/1)

FOSTER, Mark

Brief glimmer of form in relatively low-grade company in May, but only worthwhile effort since came when qualifying for this against a modest bunch at a course he knows well. In other words, up against it but can at least call on a strong Open record (28-63-35) for one of his standing. Amazing that he’s fully six years younger than swimmer of the same name. (Sky Bet 750/1)

FOWLER, Rickie 

Habitual contender and it’s remarkable that, so soon after major wins for Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and so on, many are lacking patience when it comes to whether Fowler will ever win one. He most likely will and the Open is a good fit for this shot-maker who loves to manoeuvre his ball in the wind. Has the attitude to take positives from Erin Hills (contended, but limp effort on Sunday which he felt was just a bad day on the greens) and likely to play well having done so most weeks this year, including when winning the Honda which in itself is a solid trial. Massive chance once more after perfect pipe-opener in Scotland. (Sky Bet 14/1)

FOX, Ryan

Son of former All Black, Grant Fox, whose recent form reads very nicely. Effortless power and ability to perform under a variety of conditions make him one to follow closely throughout the rest of the season and it wouldn’t be a surprise were he to keep the good run going despite this being just his second Open start, having made the cut and no more at St Andrews two years ago. (Sky Bet 150/1)

FRITTELLI, Dylan

Threw away the Volvo China Open earlier this year but took full advantage of next opportunity at the Lyoness Open in Austria. Just a brilliant driver of the ball and we know that relatively unheralded South Africans have to be respected in majors – it was in this one, seven years ago, that Louis Oosthuizen took his second European Tour title having only recently won his first. It would represent a major shock were Frittelli to replicate but he has pedigree.  (Sky Bet 250/1)

GARCIA, Sergio

The Masters champion. THE MASTERS CHAMPION! What a glorious night that was and now, free from the shackles of being the Old Sergio Garcia, who’s to say the New Sergio Garcia can’t add a Claret Jug? Doing so in the same season would be an exceptional achievement but he’s an exceptional links golfer who has never been in a better place. Birkdale form reads 28-51 which is solid enough to expect him to go well under a style of golf that he has fully embraced with no fewer than 10 top-10 finishes in the Open. Mark O’Meara completed the same double at the same course in 1998. (Sky Bet 14/1)

GRACE, Branden

Combine Branden Grace, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen and you might have the complete golfer. But these three South Africans are very different and Grace is the toughest of them, even if he’s the only one who hasn’t yet won a major, whereas the other two are more for the purist. I digress but Grace’s game is really well suited to links golf as he’s shown many times before and while not absolutely at his best in 2017, he’s good at peaking when it counts. Chance after catching the eye in Scotland. (Sky Bet 45/1)

Read more on Grace, who is backed at 50/1 in Ben's outright preview

GRIFFIN, Matthew

Mid-30s Australian who wins in his turn at home and made the cut in the Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour this summer, albeit finishing last of those who did after a closing 82. Makes his debut in this event and nothing in the form book to suggest he’ll be a factor. (Sky Bet 1000/1)

GRILLO, Emiliano

Silky-smooth swinger of a golf club who is part of the ‘Class of 2011’, which includes Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and a fair few others of immense talent. Not sure what exactly it is that is keeping Grillo from being right up there with them – maybe a lack of killer instinct, maybe short-game issues – but he certainly has the ability. Time on his side, too, and some links experience but remains better suited to parkland golf for now. Quail Hollow maybe? (Sky Bet 175/1)

Find out why Grillo gets the nod in the Top South American market

HAAS, Bill

Distant top-10 finish last year was his first in a major, but he’s taken no time to add to it with another step forward via a top-five at Erin Hills last month. That speaks to a player who has finally worked out how to peak for these events and as an all-rounder who has won at some seriously impressive venues, he’s therefore to be considered. A while since he won anything, though. (Sky Bet 125/1)

HADWIN, Adam

Canadian who broke through to win the Valspar Championship earlier this year, due reward for a series of solid efforts. Accurate off the tee and putts well but form has tailed off a little since the spring. Makes his Open debut having not yet proven capable of contending in majors in the US and will need a return to his best to stand any chance. (Sky Bet 200/1)

HALL, Ashley

Big-hitting Australian who was on the verge of giving up the game before massive effort in the Australian Open late last year, losing a play-off to Jordan Spieth. Poor start to 2017 but has returned to some sort of form lately, albeit not anything like the level that will be required here. Might one day fulfil his early potential. (Sky Bet 1000/1)

HAMILTON, Todd

Won this in 2004 but modest returns on the Champions Tour since missing the cut in last year’s Open.  (Sky Bet 2000/1)

HAO-TONG, Li

At the forefront of a wave of emerging talent from China. Won there last year in co-sanctioned company and has enjoyed a fine 2017, holding his form well throughout summer. Shot 82-84 over the weekend at Erin Hills which would be a major worry as to his short-term major prospects, but every chance he can contend for them one day. (Sky Bet 250/1)

HARMAN, Brian

Tenacious left-hander who did really well to finish second in the US Open, given that he played in the final group on Sunday and was beaten only by a player who held an enormous and extremely relevant power advantage. Had earlier doubled his PGA Tour tally against strong opposition and always peaks in summer, while sneaky T26 just down the coast at Hoylake catches the eye. Easy to underestimate but has earned a place in the conversation given fondness for challenging conditions. (Sky Bet 125/1)

Harman gets on the staking plan at a fancy price

HARRINGTON, Padraig

Back from injury caused by freak accident and has looked in good shape, especially when taking the halfway lead in Scotland week prior to the Open. Disappointing Saturday there is a concern given that he ought to have thrived in testing conditions, but two-time Open winner, including here, has had his gaze fixed on this for some time. Mad as a box of frogs but still very good at winning. (Sky Bet 55/1)

HATTON, Tyrrell

Started the year playing well everywhere, but was then taught a lesson by Augusta where he shot 80 in round one. Opened up with a round of 76 at the US Open in June and has been out of sorts for a while now, which tempers enthusiasm in the reigning Dunhill Links champion. Possible that this style of golf will see him spring back to life but no real signs of doing so in either Ireland or Scotland and concerns remain as to his patience, which will certainly be tested here. (Sky Bet 70/1)

HEND, Scott

Third-round 64 in the Irish Open due reward for a string of consistent performances since the spring. Third consecutive Open appearances but has done nothing in the event previously to suggest that he’ll contend at Birkdale, a course which doesn’t really lend itself to his long-hitting, aggressive approach. (Sky Bet 400/1)

HENDRY, Michael

New Zealander who won his national title via a play-off earlier this year, before earning an Open spot via a runner-up finish in Japan. No doubt he’s been playing at a level very close to his best throughout 2017 but the positives begin and end there. (Sky Bet 750/1)

HENLEY, Russell

Now a three-time PGA Tour winner and he’s got something special about him when in with a sniff, despite subsequently spurning a good opportunity for title number four in the Greenbrier Classic. Drives the ball well and is a wonderful putter at his best so perhaps no surprise that he’s compiling a sneaky-good major record, including top-30 finishes in six of his last eight appearances. That run includes 20th at St Andrews and given that he was 11th at Augusta then 27th in the US Open, possible to construct a case for him going well. Solid wind player, too, and of interest. (Sky Bet 125/1)

HODGKINSON, Adam

Followed qualification for this with top-10 finish on the EuroPro Tour, so the game is in good shape, but this 28-year-old looks likely to be seriously outclassed on all known form. (Sky Bet 2000/1)

HOFFMAN, Charley

Once again went well in the Masters to a point – he was five clear at one stage in the second round – and added to eventual 22nd there with top-10 finish in the US Open. No doubt he’s playing some of the best golf of his life having turned 40 towards the end of last year but does need to translate this to the UK, where he’s so far failed to fire, and was ultimately disappointing in the John Deere. (Sky Bet 125/1)

HOLMES, J.B.

Timely return to form for a player who took third place in last year’s Open, as he took 12th at Erin Hills and added a top-10 finish at the Greenbrier. Was also 14th in the 2010 Open at St Andrews but Birkdale doesn’t feel like the sort of place he’s going to enhance that record. (Sky Bet 125/1)

HORSCHEL, Billy

Christian Bale lookalike who won for the first time in nearly four years this spring. Extremely poor in the US Open given that he’d warmed up with fourth place a week earlier and one of those who might have been wise to try a links-golf warm-up rather than take time out following a T27 in the Quicken Loans National. The case for him revolves around world-class ball-striking but yet to really showcase it here and was very frustrated at times when achieving best of T30 at St Andrews. (Sky Bet 200/1)

HORSEY, David

Straight-hitting Englishman who wins his fair share, albeit in mid-tier European Tour events. Plenty of positives this year and made the cut at Birkdale a decade ago, when a bang in-form Challenge Tour player who’d won two of his previous three starts. Every chance he can again secure a weekend spot given tidy, accurate game which has looked in good shape for some time, including last week. (Sky Bet 300/1

HOWELL III, Charles

Qualified for this with heartbreaking second in Quicken Loans National, when doing very little wrong in play-off won by Kyle Stanley. Frustration aside, it was a huge performance given he’d been off since April with an injury and followed it up with another good week at the John Deere. Has all the shots but no better than T28 in eight previous Open starts and does tend to find a way to get beat. (Sky Bet 175/1)

IKEDA, Yuta

Missed the cut in both the Masters and the US Open, but latest start was a good one as he finished fourth in native Japan, where he is a prolific winner. Matched Henrik Stenson’s score in round one last year but dropped down the leaderboard thereafter and still searching for first major top-25. (Sky Bet 500/1)

JAIDEE, Thongchai

Reportedly a fine chef and certainly a fine man, but has played some of his worst golf in years over the last few months. As such, run of five cuts made in this championship is likely to come under threat and very difficult to envisage a repeat of his previous best, a share of 13th at Turnberry in 2009. (Sky Bet 300/1)

JOHNSON, Dustin

Carried all before him in the spring, but then needed carrying after falling down the stairs on the eve of the Masters. Timing could not have been crueller given he’d won his previous three events and has regressed throughout each of five starts since returning to action. Not seen since 75-73 at the US Open and of the courses on the roster, Birkdale is among the least vulnerable to his driver. Otherwise boasts standout credentials given that he’s made seven cuts in a row in the Open, across a variety of tracks, including when sharing second behind Clarke in 2011. Questions to answer but has long looked capable of winning a Claret Jug. (Sky Bet 14/1)

JOHNSON, Zach

Arrives on the flight from his hometown event, the John Deere Classic, where he showed signs of life under familiar conditions. The 2015 Open champion has otherwise appeared to be a long way from his best lately, but his record in this event deserves huge respect. As well as winning, he’s made 10 cuts in succession and was just one shot shy of making it four top-10s in five years at Troon. If able to use last week as a springboard could once again be in the mix and did finish 27th at the US Open last month. (Sky Bet 70/1)

JOHNSTON, Andrew

Popularity has soared ever since he won a demanding renewal of the Open de Espana last season and it’s deserved – there can be few more likeable professionals in any sport. Possible to argue that Johnston’s game has suffered as a result but was eighth in last year’s Open and has been ticking over quite nicely of late. Lovely ball-striker should not be underestimated. (Sky Bet 125/1)

KANG, Sung-hoon

Tees it up most weeks on the PGA Tour and has come close to winning three times this season, most recently at the Quicken Loans National when caught in a storm just as he’d looked set to collect. Made the cut and fared well in both major starts to date and while both in the US Open, has played enough good rounds by the coast to think he could surprise a few here. (Sky Bet 300/1)

KAPUR, Shiv

Dave John’s favourite golfer who won in Taiwan earlier this season, 12 years on from his sole previous Asian Tour success. Two Challenge Tour wins and a play-off loss in fairly low-key European Tour company give you a decent indication as to his level but last Open start saw him hit the front early, ending day one in fourth at Muirfield. Bound to be thinking about that as he tees off. (Sky Bet 500/1

KAYMER, Martin

Two-time major champion, both coming in the US, but as the years tick slowly by it’s easy to conclude that his best days have gone – even at 32. This is supported by his failure to convert what was briefly a 10-shot lead with less than a round to go in Abu Dhabi two seasons ago and he is in fact without a title since landing the US Open in 2014. Once looked an obvious Open candidate and far from a lost cause, but for now there are enough doubts to swerve. Shame, really, because he’s a quite brilliant man. (Sky Bet 70/1)

KHONGWATMAI, Phachara

Serious talent who was only just denied in the first edition of the World Super 6 earlier this season. Form has been up and down since but he only turned 18 in May and the best is very much yet to come. Clearly, this is too early even if the day will come that a teenager wins a major championship. (Sky Bet 750/1)

KIM, Chan

Korean-born, Hawaiian-raised American who went to Arizona State, the same university as Phil Mickelson. Some good form as an amateur and really beginning to thrive now as a professional, having qualified for this via victory in the Mizuno Open, days after he’d also secured a start in the US Open. Missed the cut there but has since added another win – that’s two in four starts – and has experience of all kinds of courses having played all over the world. Big step up in grade. (Sky Bet 1000/1)

KIM, Gi-whan

Climbed around 500 places in the Official World Golf Rankings this summer but still to crack the top 400 and winless as a professional. Was once thought of as a potential Korean star but hasn’t materialised so far and hard to make any kind of case for him here. (Sky Bet 1000/1)

KIM, K-T

Prolific winner on the Japan Golf Tour but yet to really translate that to the next level, despite plenty of opportunities. Has at least made the cut in three of his five Open starts, albeit without threatening, and there was a time five or six years ago when he did look set to become a global player of some note. Now 30, still waiting for the performance which alters the path of his career and difficult to see it coming at Birkdale, especially as he’s not been at his best lately. (Sky Bet 500/1)

KIM, Si-woo

Brilliant young talent who, in the past year, has gone from PGA Tour maiden to a two-time winner including the illustrious PLAYERS Championship. Front-running performances for both titles were incredible and point to a player who is the complete package, bar one or two injury niggles which have contributed to an inconsistent profile. Contended at the US Open and seems bound to do so in many more majors, so may be worth a saver on the exchanges at the very least despite subsequent missed cuts. (Sky Bet 200/1)

KISNER, Kevin

All-time exponent of the Southern Drawl who combines an apparent lack of care with an intense will to win. Blotted his copybook when throwing away a good chance to win the Arnold Palmer earlier this year but made no mistake at Colonial with a closing 66, doubling his PGA Tour tally. Plenty of form in the wind and is accurate from the tee so could take to Birkdale, even if so far his standout major efforts have all been in the US. Fits certain statistical trends and must come into consideration. (Sky Bet 125/1)

KJELDSEN, Soren

Won the Irish Open at a fabulous links track two years ago, shortly after his 40th birthday. Highlight of 2016 was a smile-all-the-way top-10 at Augusta while he also teamed up with Thorbjorn Olesen to win the World Cup for Denmark. Interesting contender on those efforts but 2017 hasn’t gone to plan despite the fact he’s still hitting fairways for fun. (Sky Bet 100/1)

KNOX, Russell

Like Kjeldsen, has gone off the boil this year having won twice in the previous PGA Tour season, for which some felt he deserved a Ryder Cup place. At his best an all-rounder who hits a lot of greens but miles from that for some time and a little out of practice when it comes to links golf, having been based in the US since attending college in Jacksonville. Yet to shoot 72 or better in a major this year. (Sky Bet 200/1)

KOEPKA, Brooks

Had threatened to look frustrating prior to winning the US Open in such devastating fashion at Erin Hills. Major performances had previously been excellent, so it’s puzzling as to why he hadn’t added to one PGA Tour title before winning his second in the very highest grade although that’s rather by the by now. Far less suited to this venue but strength of his play in major championships means he’s entitled to respect if able to pick up where he left off, having taken an extended break. Suspect he’ll be ring-rusty and that Birkdale will bring him back down to earth with a bang, though. (Sky Bet 33/1)

KRUGER, Jbe

Not one to base a technique textbook on but does hit greens religiously and can string together low rounds when in a groove. Doesn’t appear to be at present, however, and this diminutive South African can quickly be overlooked. (Sky Bet 750/1)

KUCHAR, Matt

Far too nice for his own good but ruthless enough to win 13 times as a professional, including a PLAYERS and a World Golf Championship. Just one of his major top-10s has come in the Open but has made six of his last seven cuts in the event and looks a likely type for Birkdale, even if he was unable to show it there in 2008 and way back in 1998. Arrives having struck form and has finished off both this season’s majors well, taking a backdoor fourth at Augusta and then 16th at Erin Hills. Warmed up with excellent effort in Scotland and could go very well. (Sky Bet 50/1)

LAHIRI, Anirban

Could well be the first Indian player to win a major, given that he’s now a feature in the world’s top 30 and has proven himself capable of going really well on the PGA Tour where he’s edging towards a breakthrough win. Hits it long and straight and there’s a feeling that the US-based majors will suit better than this (T5 US PGA), but he’s made the cut in three of his four Open starts and is an absolute shoo-in to be top Indian player here. Only just turned 30 and the best is yet to come. (Sky Bet 200/1)

Lahiri an easy pick in the Top Indian betting - read more

LAIRD, Martin

A little like Knox in that he’s a Scotsman who has played so much of his golf in the US and in basic terms would have more a PGA Tour game as he hits it extremely high. In-and-out this year but four top-10 finishes to his name and fared quite well in the US Open. Yet to make any kind of impact in this championship, however, and that seems likely to remain the case. (Sky Bet 200/1)

LARRAZABAL, Pablo

Heart-on-sleeve owner of a sausage dog who nobody on earth doesn’t like. Tough competitor, too, having fended off some world-class players (Rory, Mickelson, Stenson, Monty, Garcia) in collecting four European Tour titles, and enjoyed a productive spring on the back of Garcia’s Masters win. Less impressive of late and doesn’t appear the sort to get competitive in majors despite run of Spanish winners lately. He is what he is. (Sky Bet 250/1)

LAWRIE, Paul

Beneficiary of Jean van de Velde’s meltdown in 1999, overturning a 10-shot deficit in the final round. Yet to get anywhere close to doubling up in the Open, with no further top-20 finishes, and appears to be winding down his career despite remaining competitive. Won a weak event in South Africa earlier this year but that’s just about as good as he is these days. (Sky Bet 500/1)

LEHMAN, Tom

Won this in 1996, the best year of his career, having established a six-shot lead through three rounds. Nowadays plays almost exclusively on the Champions Tour, where he’s a three-time major winner, but not a foregone conclusion that he plods around the back given that he achieved back-to-back top-25s in the Open in 2010 and 2011. Playing nicely of late, too, so one to consider in the top senior market given Bernhard Langer’s absence. (Sky Bet 1000/1)

LEISHMAN, Marc

Should have won more than two PGA Tour titles but remains high-class, consistent and capable of better yet. Could easily pop up in a major, too, given that he lost a play-off for this in 2015, also hit the top-five a year earlier, and played alongside Adam Scott in the final round when his compatriot won the Masters. Recent form is strong, has no obvious weaknesses, loves playing in the wind and has to be on the shortlist at a course where Iain Baker-Finch won in 1991. (Sky Bet 45/1

Leishman makes Ben's outright staking plan at 50s

LEVY, Alexander

Four wins since 2014, most recently when gifted an opening in China during the spring. Form since suggests work with Pete Cowen hasn’t fully bedded in and it’s noteworthy that his results have dipped since the difficulty of the courses has risen. Not to say he’s one-dimensional, but for now has a thing or two to learn about grinding out a score under links conditions. Opposable in every market. (Sky Bet 250/1)

LIPSKY, David

Trying to convince himself he likes links golf having struggled in Ireland and Scotland. Best results so far this season have come out in Asia but stuck on one European Tour win, which came a couple of years ago in the Swiss Alps. Very good on the greens but little else to shout about in the context of this event. (Sky Bet 400/1)

LORENZO-VERA, Mike

Popular Frenchman who has been to hell and back but is now really enjoying life on the European Tour. Final-round 66 in his national open earned this opportunity having just missed out a couple of years ago, and one thing in his favour is how well he plays tough golf courses. It’s a decade since he secured his sole professional title of note on the Challenge Tour but he could be the pick of the French challenge and value in that market. (Sky Bet 400/1)

Lorenzo-Vera gets the vote from Ben in the Top Frenchman market - full specials preview here

LOVEMARK, Jamie

Talented, big-hitting American who is edging closer and closer to a PGA Tour breakthrough. It would likely have come by now but for some pretty serious injury setbacks and when he does close one out, you suspect more will follow. Struggled in England and Scotland last year and game is not quite subtle enough for this challenge, but performances in US Open have caught the eye. (Sky Bet 200/1)

LOWRY, Shane

Loves a proper links test and has a fine record in England, so there’s a case to be made for a player who won a World Golf Championship less than two years ago before leading through 54 holes of last summer’s US Open. Form so far in 2017 has been unspectacular as he adjusts to fatherhood but closed with a 66 in Ireland and finished sixth at Wentworth, it’s just a question of how tuned-up he is should he find himself in contention. Non-contending ninth down the coast at Hoylake three years ago. (Sky Bet 60/1)

LUITEN, Joost

On the fringes all year as he closes in on a sixth European Tour title, and two of those came in the KLM Open which rates a handy form guide. That said, his best major performances have all come in the US and not sure he scrambles well enough to get away with misses around a course like Birkdale. Consistency counts for something at least with just one missed cut this season. (Sky Bet 200/1)

LYLE, Sandy

Was 11-over through 10 holes here in 2008 before calling it a day because his grips were wet and his glasses were steamed up. In 1991, he was disqualified, in effect, for refusing to finish a hole having gone out of bounds. So, erm, anything could happen. Except the name Sandy Lyle appearing on Saturday’s list of tee-times. (Sky Bet 2500/1)

MANLEY, Stuart

In his last 10 events, this Welshman has finished second, 11th and… missed eight cuts. Largely struggling, then, and will likely remain best known for following a hole-in-one with an 11 in the 2013 World Cup.  (Sky Bet 1000/1)

MARKSAENG, Prayad

Thai pro into his fifties now and while still winning in appropriate company, it’s late in the day to become a factor in events like this. Yet to make an Open cut and can be expected to struggle. (Sky Bet 750/1)

MATSUYAMA, Hideki

Now firmly established among the game’s elite and it’s surely a matter of time before he lands a first major title. Threatened to do so in the US Open when making a Sunday run at Koepka to finish tied second, following on from 11th at Augusta, so very much producing the goods in big events as he has since turning professional. Unfortunate sixth at Muirfield in 2013 (penalised for slow play) and was 18th at St Andrews, so must have a massive chance if the putter behaves having enjoyed a solid prep in Ireland. (Sky Bet 20/1)

Matsuyama backed to make his major breakthrough

MCCARTHY, Nick

Hillside qualifier who has some low scores to his name on the EuroPro Tour this season, but as with all those making this step up in grade will likely learn about his game as he battles to make the cut. (Sky Bet 2000/1)

MCCARTHY, Ryan

Ranked 1,342 in the world when coming through a play-off in Final Qualifying to seal his major championship debut. Has largely struggled on lower-grade tours, though, and despite aiming for a top-20 finish seems more likely to miss the cut by a fair distance. (Sky Bet 1500/1)

MCCULLEN, Haydn

Turned professional two summers ago on the back of a stellar amateur career and does look to be among the brighter young talents in English golf. Already a winner on the EuroPro Tour earlier in the season and will climb the ladder but, despite dominating his Final Qualifying section, making the weekend will represent an achievement here. (Sky Bet 1000/1)

MCGIRT, William

Archetypal PGA Tour journeyman who won his first title last summer, before some solid performances in majors including the Masters earlier this year. Struck the ball nicely at the Travelers last time and while missing the cut at Troon last year, sneaky fancy to go quite well for a time on his second crack at the Open. (Sky Bet 250/1)

MCILROY, Rory

Won at a rain-softened Hoylake in 2014 before following up in the PGA Championship for his fourth major, but stuck on that figure after a frustrating couple of years. Poor efforts in Ireland and Scotland lately underline that he’s hardly an ideal type for links golf despite growing up under such conditions in Northern Ireland, and difficult as of this moment to make a case for him. Still, quite clear that things could click at any moment and when they do, remains exceptionally hard to beat, as evidenced in the FedEx Cup finale last year. Watch for signs of encouragement with next month’s PGA Championship in mind because if he does win another Claret Jug, suspect it’ll be at St Andrews. (Sky Bet 18/1)

MCNEALY, Maverick

Living up to his name by considering giving up competitive golf rather than do what other top-ranked amateurs would do and pursue a professional career. Son of a billionaire can make that decision if he wants to but hopefully he gives this a crack as he looks an exceptional talent. Arrives on the charter from the John Deere where he played well and could better missed cut in US Open. (Sky Bet 500/1)

MICKELSON, Phil

Reinvented himself as a links specialist this decade, winning the Open at Muirfield and finishing second at the end of a pulsating battle with Henrik Stenson last year. Throw in his pursuit of Darren Clarke in 2011 and that’s three times the left-hander has looked like he might win this in the last six renewals, so impossible to overlook his prospects despite shock upheaval which saw long-time caddie replaced by brother Tim. As ever, difficult to know quite what to expect at a penal Open venue but was 19th after a shocking start here in 2008. Surprised he didn’t play in Scotland, though. (Sky Bet 40/1)

MIYAZATO, Yusaku

Won back-to-back titles in his native Japan this spring and held his form well since. Drives it straight and has made the cut in his two US Open starts, but missed both in this event including at Hoylake in 2014. At 37, difficult to see where the jolt of improvement he needs comes from and is surely making up the numbers. (Sky Bet 500/1)

MOLINARI, Francesco

Arrow-straight and as consistent as they come but hasn’t really kicked on from WGC win back in 2009, nor Ryder Cup appearances in 2010 and 2012. Didn’t stop him winning Italian Open for a second time last year but you do wonder what he could achieve with half an ounce of his less-gifted brother’s courage. No change lately bar rare missed cut at US Open. Three top-15 finishes in this event and another eminently possible without looking like he’ll win. (Sky Bet 70/1)

MOORE, Ryan

Does things his own way but it’s not been working lately, with just one sub-70 round since the Masters. Has a fair record in this event, the highlight a T12 at Hoylake, and showed that he can rub shoulders with the best in last year’s Ryder Cup, but opposable on all 2017 form. (Sky Bet 200/1)

MUNOZ, Sebastian

Young Colombian qualified for this with third place in the Greenbrier Classic, where he opened with a round of 61 and putted the lights out all week long. Previous form not comparable and strongly fancied to struggle, but if you do want to side with a player who went close so recently, round one is the suggestion. Munoz is inside the PGA Tour’s top-25 for first-round scoring and it’s not inconceivable that he could go well for a little while. (Sky Bet 750/1)

NA, Kevin

Demon-ridden but strangely loveable slowcoach who has just the one PGA Tour title to his name. Complained about course conditions at Erin Hills, where he started well but faded, and has to be a concern he won’t take to this challenge even though he’s largely accurate from tee to green. (Sky Bet 250/1)

NOREN, Alex

Brilliant 2016 season saw him climb into the world’s top 10, where he remains after a closing 62 earned him another title in the BMW PGA Championship two months ago. Links pedigree includes victory in last year’s Scottish Open and has started to believe he belongs, which makes the world of difference. Overly reliant on stock fade but it’s metronomic as a result and combined with sharp short-game, makes him a potential contender, especially as he thrives in the UK. (Sky Bet 45/1)

NORRIS, Shaun

Won first Japan Tour title in June, to go with victories on the Asian Tour and the Sunshine Tour, the latter based in his native South Africa. That’s as good as he is, though, and this ex-broom-handle putter has next to no chance. (Sky Bet 1000/1)

O’HAIR, Sean

Four-time winner who has had his fair share of off-course distractions down the years, which perhaps explains that relatively light figure considering his ability. Has done well to climb back inside the world’s top 100 and was the highest-placed US player in the 2010 Open (T7), but only worthwhile form of late has come in his native Texas. (Sky Bet 250/1)

O’MEARA, Mark

Winner here in 1998, which bodes well for Garcia backers as O’Meara had also taken the Masters in the spring. Fared reasonably back at Birkdale in the Senior Open Championship four years ago but overall form has nosedived since and will be a big price to win just about any three-ball. (Sky Bet 2000/1)

OLESEN, Thorbjorn

Can be erratic off the tee but among the best in Europe at getting the job done when it matters, as he showed again in the Turkish Airlines Open last year. Went on to win the World Cup for Denmark and added the silliness of Golf Sixes to his résumé, while maintaining solid level of individual form with top-fives in Sweden and France. Proven links performer who was ninth in this six years ago and could surprise a few if – and it’s an almighty if – avoiding the big numbers. Can’t hurt that his best mate won on the Challenge Tour on Sunday. (Sky Bet 125/1)

OOSTHUIZEN, Louis

Won the 2010 Open Championship at St Andrews, benefiting from a good draw but showing class and poise to run away from the field on Sunday. Title haul since a little underwhelming (yet to win in the US, for instance), but he’s been mighty close in several subsequent majors, including when bidding for a St Andrews double in 2015. Remains to be seen whether he can bring that form to Birkdale but always a dangerous player given effortless brilliance when on his game. (Sky Bet 45/1)

PAVON, Matthieu

Storming Sunday 66 for third place in Scotland, both earning this invite and securing his European Tour card for 2018. Definite scope for improvement from this big-hitting youngster who hails from a lovely part of France. (Sky Bet 300/1)

PEREZ, Pat

Outspoken and popular, Perez has played some of his best golf over the last year, winning the OHL Classic shortly after his return from injury. Top-20 finish in the Masters before runner-up finish a couple of weeks later, but not so good since and missed the cut at the US Open. Shot 82-68 here in 2008 and that rather sums things up. Your guess is as good as mine. (Sky Bet 200/1)

PIETERS, Thomas

Top points scorer at last year’s Ryder Cup and has something very special about him, to go with obvious, measurable talents like power and touch. Up-and-down 2017 features some really strong stuff on the PGA Tour, including fourth place in the Masters, along with a series of missed cuts. Has won under links conditions but aggressive approach far from certain to pay off here, so journey to the world’s top 10 may take a little hit. (Sky Bet 50/1)

PLANT, Alfie

Sounds like he should be a cheeky barman in a Guy Ritchie film but is in fact an amateur golfer who plays at Bromley. Qualified for this via hard-fought success in European Amateur Championship and has since played nicely for successful England side in team equivalent. All part of the learning process. (Sky Bet 1000/1)

POULTER, Ian

Thought he’d done enough for a play-off here in 2008 before Harrington shut the door firmly in his face. That far from the only evidence that he’s an excellent links player and showed up well for a long way in the Scottish Open, as he continues to work towards peak form in a strange old year which saw him lose and then regain his PGA Tour card thanks to someone actually reading the rules. Anyway, not the player who delivered time and again for Europe in the Ryder Cup any more but has the fight in him to win more titles. And if a major is among them, it will absolutely be this one, however improbable that remains. (Sky Bet 60/1

RAHM, Jon

Spanish-born, Arizona-educated former world amateur number one who will surely reach the top of the men’s game, too. His rise over the last year, since turning pro after the 2016 US Open, has been virtually unprecedented: already, he’s won two prestigious titles, one on each major golf tour. Next is to contend properly for a major (threatened briefly at Augusta) and recent victory in the Irish Open confirms that the Open Championship could well be a decent fit. Easy to suggest that he lacks the patience for a grind like this promises to be, or that players of his inexperience don’t win the Open, but Rahm is out of the ordinary and fully deserves to be challenging for favouritism. (Sky Bet 16/1)

RAMSAY, Richie

Late qualifier for the second year in succession thanks to distant runner-up finish in the Irish Open. Has been bullish about the state of his game for some time now and proven well capable of taking an opportunity when it does arise, but not since crack amateur career has he looked up to contending for majors. Does at least thrive under the forecast conditions so could step up to some degree, which makes top Scotsman market worth a look. Should probably be favourite there. (Sky Bet 200/1)

REED, Patrick

Top-25 finishes in eight of his last 10 starts but tending to produce one bad round per week, which prevents him from adding to his trophy collection. Open record reads a progressive CUT-T20-T12 and was 13th in the US Open last time, with sharp, creative short-game a definite asset under tough conditions. The anti-Noren in that he relies heavily on a draw but when it’s working, he’s not far off the most deadly golfers on the planet. A player here if putting four rounds together for the first time in 2017. (Sky Bet 66/1)

ROSE, Justin

Burst on the scene as an amateur here in 1998, but that remains his best Open Championship finish. Has won the Scottish Open at a proper links course and was fourth in the Irish Open recently, but on balance not a natural links golfer. Certainly, struggles to conjure the shots required around the greens and high ball-flight can cause issues when the wind blows. None of this is to say he can’t win a Claret Jug, which would to some degree make up for his Masters heartache, and in his favour is the fact he prepares for these events as well as anyone. Hard to dismiss without being easy to fancy. (Sky Bet 18/1)

SCHAUFFELE, Xander

Produced a 72nd-hole birdie to win the Greenbrier Classic and it had been coming – he’d made five previous cuts including when fifth in the US Open. Clearly taken to life on the PGA Tour having graduated last year and is particularly good off the tee, but if there’s a weakness it’s with his scrambling and there’s potential for him to be caught out by a test which is fairly new to him. Has a bright future and could win again before the year is out. (Sky Bet 200/1)

SCHWARTZEL, Charl

Sublime at his best and has made six cuts in seven Open appearances dating back to 2010. Five of those six have resulted in top-20 finishes, across a collection of links tracks, and he was third at the Masters earlier this season. Hard to know exactly when he’s going to turn up and perform and can be very moody when things aren’t going well, but making all the right noises in the run-up. 3-MC-WD-35-2-MC form figures say it all but on a going week, of course he could win this. (Sky Bet 70/1)

SCOTT, Adam

Couple of missed cuts this year but otherwise consistent, albeit nothing better than sixth place in the PLAYERS underlines the fact that he hasn’t really been contending. One bad round in four at last week’s Scottish Open but that might still represent a decent preparation and four top-10 finishes in his last five Opens tell you how good he is at this style of golf. Whether those Lytham demons still exist (they appeared to when he blew another chance at St Andrews) remains a question mark but looks a very solid contender all things considered. (Sky Bet 28/1)

SHINKWIN, Callum

Made all the right noises after losing a play-off in Scotland on Sunday, but boy it must’ve hurt. Played beautifully all the way to the 72nd green but four shots from the wrong side of a bunker resulted in a play-off, which he lost after a limp birdie miss. Nice to see him showing what he can do – enormous young talent who will win titles – but getting back on the bike will be difficult here. (Sky Bet 250/1)

SIMPSON, Webb

Surprise winner of 2012 US Open who subsequently suffered for ban of anchored putting, something he’d been doing since his first days at Wake Forest. Credit to him, then, for getting down to business and working out a way to score, which has seen him go close on a handful of occasions this season. Clearly not the player he was five years ago but doesn’t lack for toughness which alone is a major plus in this. (Sky Bet 200/1)

SMITH, Cameron

Finished fourth in the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay, which helped him forge a path to full PGA Tour playing rights. Became a winner at that level earlier this year, in a manner of speaking, as he combined with Jonas Blixt to win the reformatted Zurich Classic. Poor in limited starts subsequently which is a worry ahead of his first Open start, but has made the cut in all four major appearances elsewhere. (Sky Bet 250/1)

SNEDEKER, Brandt

Looked like he might win this for a time before settling for third in 2012. Followed it with 11th at Muirfield where he made friends in local drinking establishments and has since added a share of 22nd at Troon. No surprise, really, as he’s a classy PGA Tour winner who is very comfortable by the sea and whose pop putting stroke works well on the slower greens of the UK. Given that he’s been on the fringes several times this season, including when ninth at Erin Hills, that makes him a potential factor. (Sky Bet 70/1)

SONG, Younghan

Mid-20s Korean who got the better of Jordan Spieth for his sole professional title to date in Singapore last year. Almost defended that earlier this season and has been in consistent form since, particularly in terms of hitting greens and staying out of trouble. (Sky Bet 750/1)

SOUTHGATE, Matthew

Southend pro who has beaten cancer and now dines at the top table of European golf. Many of his standout performances have been by the coast and he’s a confirmed links specialist who is prone to the odd flying start, as he demonstrated en route to a share of second in the Irish Open where he led the field in fairways and greens. Finished 12th in this last year and loves playing on home soil. (Sky Bet 250/1

SPIETH, Jordan

Only one of the soon-to-be-disbanded Big Four who arrives in something like peak form, having produced now-typical moments of wonder to land the Travelers last time. That’s two wins and two further top-five finishes in his last 15 starts and as a general rule, if you back him at an average of around 10/1 you’ll chip away a decent profit. Hasn’t missed a cut in any major since winning his first and in just 18 major starts, he has two wins, three seconds and a fourth. Astonishing, really. Given concerns around chief rivals there’s a case to be made for him being clear favourite and if the putter behaves on greens slower than he’d like, Spieth will be right in the mix. (Sky Bet 14/1)

Ben's headline tip to lift the Claret Jug at 16/1

STANLEY, Kyle

Soft-spoken flusher who secured an emotional, overdue second PGA Tour title three weeks ago. It had been coming, in fairness, and it’s going to be fascinating to see whether he can kick-on which isn’t a given considering that he basically still can’t putt. Regularly tops the ball-striking charts but yet to take that long-game brilliance into a major and get in the mix. Best chance to do so in the near future is probably in a month’s time at Quail Hollow. (Sky Bet 200/1)

STEELE, Brendan

Ungainly style but sneaky-good major results (T27-T13) this season, having started it by doubling his PGA Tour tally. Breakthrough Texas win in 2011 came in an event where being comfortable in the wind is an absolute must but a non-factor in the Open so far, albeit in just two attempts. Has, however, gone well in France so his game does travel and wouldn’t be a shock if he made some kind of progress given how well he drives the ball. (Sky Bet 175/1)

STENSON, Henrik

Produced the golf of his life to shake off Phil Mickelson a year ago and finally win a men's major championship for Sweden. Had previously gone close behind the same rival at Muirfield so these classic links tests are perfect for one of the finest ball-strikers in the sport. Some concerning signs recently, including missed cuts at both Augusta and Erin Hills, but he’s far better suited to conditions at Birkdale, where he was third in 2008. Defending this famous championship is a very difficult task and you’d have wanted to see more of late, but it’s not beyond Stenson who finds fairways with the very best of them. (Sky Bet 25/1)

STONE, Brandon

Inconsistent young South African with an extremely bright future all the same. Confidence will have been boosted by making the cut in the US Open but no impression since and there’s still work to be done before he can be considered a potential major champion. (Sky Bet 250/1)

STREB, Robert

Often looks like he’s been pulled from the crowd to replace a stricken professional. Struggled for a while since winning one and only title in 2014, but was inside the top-10 at last year’s PGA Championship and returned to form with second place last time out. T18 at St Andrews two years ago but was in a better place generally at the time and will find this tougher.  (Sky Bet 300/1)

STRICKER, Steve

Still playing nicely in this state of semi-retirement and weekend performance at US Open close to home was a joy to behold. That’s top-20 finishes in both majors this season for a player who has been doing this for three decades now and has endured his share of highs and lows. Lately, has done really well when consenting to turn up and play in the Open, including when fourth last year. Never in the mix to win there and probably won’t be here, but primed to enjoy another solid four rounds. (Sky Bet 100/1)

SULLIVAN, Andy

Rediscovered his game lately after what some would call a self-inflicted blip. I couldn’t possibly comment. Key to his success is finding fairways which he’s doing as well as anyone right now and if he can get the putter as warm as it was two years ago, further titles will come. Finished just outside the top 10 at Troon last year without threatening leading pair. (Sky Bet 70/1)

SURI, Julian

Latest American to come over here and steal all our Challenge Tour titles (well, just one so far), before breezing through Final Qualifying to earn this major debut. Made just his 20th start last week so very much learning on the job and there’s no doubt this will represent a totally different experience to those he’s enjoyed across Europe. Much more to come in time. (Sky Bet 400/1)

SYME, Connor

Another amateur who came through qualifying and will be raring to go, having been a spectator at just about every Open he can recall. Turns 22 during the week of the event so cause for celebration, even if it ends prematurely. (Sky Bet 1000/1)

TANIHARA, Hideto

Finished fourth at the WGC-Match Play in the spring, prompting less-successful Grayson Murray to confirm himself a bit of a dope with a borderline racist tirade. Not that Tanihara cares much, I suspect, and he’s gone on to finish third at Wentworth and 10th in Ireland to confirm that he’s graduated beyond the Asian Tour now. Missed the cut here in 2008 but was fifth at Hoylake in 2006 and, for whatever reason, appears to be improving still at 38. Sharp around the greens and married to an actress, so is better at life than most and a sneaky contender. (Sky Bet 150/1)

THOMAS, Justin

Started the year with the (not-so-much) coveted Hawaiian double, including a round of 59, before earning his first taste of major contention at the US Open. Faltered badly there – poor swing on the first tee and was out of contention before the turn – and has missed the cut in both subsequent starts. Shouldn’t detract from the fact he’s a very special talent, however, and wouldn’t be one to rule out even in unfamiliar surroundings like these given virtual guarantee that he contends for many majors over the coming years. (Sky Bet 50/1)

TREE, Toby

Long been touted as a promising sort and has shown it on and off this year, including when eighth on the Challenge Tour a fortnight before the Open. Has had to scramble for starts, including in Monday qualifiers on the Sunshine Tour, so knows how to grind and impressed when coming through Woburn shootout for this opportunity. Says he’s never attended a major so could be blown away by the whole experience but it’ll serve him well in the long run. (Sky Bet 1000/1)

UIHLEIN, Peter

Back from wrist problems and made Tommy Fleetwood pull out all the stops in France recently, before following that up with a top-15 finish in the Irish Open. Likely these efforts were in part inspired by friend Brooks Koepka’s US Open win, but Uihlein has always had the talent to contend for titles anywhere regardless. Won by the sea in Madeira and almost added the Dunhill Links so there’s more to his game than power. (Sky Bet 125/1)

VEGAS, Jhonattan

Missing cuts left, right and centre following promising start to the campaign. Tenacious and good at getting over the line when a chance does come but any lack of confidence likely to be badly exposed here. (Sky Bet 500/1)

WALKER, Jimmy

Shock winner of last year’s PGA Championship when scrapping his way to a narrow victory over Jason Day against the odds. Form subsequently has been largely poor but did find something in his final start before the Open, however his inability to find fairways will likely catch him out.  (Sky Bet 175/1)

WANG, Jeunghun

Two European Tour wins last season but stepped up another level to win in Qatar earlier this year, an event which tends to be a very good pointer towards Open contenders. Unfortunately, his play of late has been poor and he’s been struggling for fitness. (Sky Bet 400/1)

WARING, Paul

Turned professional with high expectations but has been hit hard by injury issues. Before all that, was just inside the top 20 in the Open here in 2008, to the delight of local crowds given that he’s from nearby Birkenhead. Hit and miss lately but did open with round of 64 in France. (Sky Bet 300/1)

WATSON, Bubba

Shed loads of weight having cut sugar out of his diet, a sign of weakness if you ask me. That, combined with using a novelty golf ball has seen his status as a world-class, regular contender evaporate, and he has work to do to get back on terms with younger rivals. Not an obvious type for the Open even in the best of form. (Sky Bet 175/1)

WESTWOOD, Lee

Splendid major record without winning, including various near-misses in this. Really should’ve won it in 2009 and again spurned a glorious opportunity in 2013, so it���s hard to believe he’s going to finally end the hoodoo now given that he’s not the player he was. However, Darren Clarke did it, Ernie Els did it, and being 44 is no barrier in this event, so never say never. Recent split from long-time manager hardly ideal in terms of timing but wouldn’t be a surprise to see him go well yet again having been 10th two starts ago. (Sky Bet 60/1)

WIESBERGER, Bernd

One of the European Tour’s most consistent players (closing in on a year without a missed cut) who gained a deserved fourth title in China at the expense of in-form Tommy Fleetwood earlier this year. Low-key prep maybe no bad thing and was inside the top 20 at the US Open, albeit that course may have suited his game better than Birkdale will. Big price given how likely he is to play four rounds and does have it in him to contend for majors, having done so once already. (Sky Bet 100/1)

WILLETT, Danny

Masters win last year might have been slightly fortunate, but was the culmination of rise through the ranks and couldn’t be called a surprise. Things have gone very wrong since, including split with caddie, various injuries and withdrawals, and an absence of good play. Look for a turnaround at some point but fitness worries remain and must be opposed. (Sky Bet 250/1)

WOOD, Chris

Like former junior team-mate Willett, has endured more than his share of injuries down the years and has been dogged by a wrist complaint lately. Will nevertheless be relishing a return to Birkdale, where he finished inside the top five as an amateur in 2008 before contending again one year later at Turnberry. Now has Ryder Cup experience, has won noted trial for this in Qatar and could quite easily spring back into life under ideal conditions. (Sky Bet 100/1)

WOODLAND, Gary

Emotionally draining time of things off the course has affected the on-course performances of this new dad. So much talent but struggles to convert it into contending performances, let alone wins, and spends too much of his time on the fringes. Does play well in the wind but not on the shortlist here. (Sky Bet 200/1)

ZANOTTI, Fabrizio

Won in Malaysia earlier this year and held his form in the immediate aftermath, but has struggled to make an impact lately and lacks the class to contend on his Open debut. (Sky Bet 250/1)


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