McIlroy Hopes for Second Hoylake Win Since 2014
Dates for 151st Open Championship: 20th-23rd July, at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake
Coverage: Live commentary via radio and text on the Sport News Center website, with daily video clips. Evening highlights on BBC Two starting at 20:00 BST
As the 151st Open gears up to commence at Royal Liverpool, Rory McIlroy might find extra reason for confidence if he considers signs auspicious. Nine years after he first and only won the Claret Jug on the Wirral peninsula, the Northern Irishman is returning, this time as a hot favorite at the age of 34.
Stories abound of the challenging links course in Hoylake, bordering the Irish Sea, with roots dating back to 1869, almost as old as the Open Championship itself. McIlroy follows legends like Tiger Woods, Peter Thomson, Bobby Jones, and Walter Hagen in being crowned the Champion Golfer of the Year here.
While he strives to recreate his past success, a field of renowned names, as well as dark horses, stand ready to contend for the title. Here are the key points of discussion as we approach this year’s British sports summer highlight…
McIlroy Seeks Strategic Win
McIlroy, currently world number two, has already cemented his name in Hoylake’s history with a hard-fought victory in 2014. Another triumph would make him the first to receive the Claret Jug twice before the double-sided clock of the clubhouse, covered in ivy.
McIlroy stands as one of only three golfers to have won three out of the four major men’s tournaments by the age of 25, bringing him closer to golfing legend status. However, despite being a four-time major champion, he has yet to win the Masters or add to his lone Open victory. Despite coming close at Troon, Birkdale, Carnoustie and notably St Andrews last year, these feats remain elusive.
His recent victory at the Scottish Open served as ideal preparation before his return to Hoylake. He views the course as highly strategic, with well-placed bunkers offering a significant challenge. He believes successfully avoiding these traps is key to navigating the course.
Homegrown Contenders to Watch
McIlroy narrowly defeated Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre at the Scottish Open, showing once again why MacIntyre might be a strong contender. He’s one of seven Scots in the field, which also includes Ewen Ferguson and Richie Ramsay, while Oliver Farr represents Wales.
English contenders have not claimed an Open win since Nick Faldo in 1992. The home field hasn’t seen a champion since Tony Jacklin in 1969. Tommy Fleetwood, a local from Southport, and other English hopefuls including Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick and Justin Rose could reverse this trend.
Last year’s US Open winner Fitzpatrick is one of only two English players to clinch a major in the past decade. His younger brother has also qualified, making them the first siblings to compete in an Open since Francesco and Edoardo Molinari in 2015. The Danish twins Nicolai and Rasmus Hojgaard are also participating this week.
Veteran English pair Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter will be missed this year as they opted not to qualify.
Scottie Scheffler ‘Frustrated’ with Anything But a Win
Many are betting on either McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler or Jon Rahm if they’re not rooting for McIlroy. These top players dominate world rankings and remain standout performers on the PGA Tour this year.
Scheffler, 27, maintains consistency with no finishes outside the top 12 in his last 19 events. He has two wins this season, including the prestigious Players Championship, and aims to add a second major title to his 2022 Masters win.
Rahm, a fan favorite at Royal Liverpool, secured his second major by winning the Masters in April and is eager to pursue his first Open title. Despite links golf’s challenging nature, Rahm’s performances have consistently been under par in the last three tournaments. The Spaniard relishes golf’s versatility, calling it “the purest state of golf” irrespective of weather conditions.
Other competitors include defending champion Cameron Smith, five-time major champion Brooks Koepka, recent comeback kid Rickie Fowler, and young contenders like Norway’s Viktor Hovland and Americans Cameron Young and Sam Burns. Former champions Jordan Spieth and Collin Morikawa will be competing, but Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia will be absent due to injury and failed qualification, respectively.
One significant alteration to the course since 2014 is the new 17th hole, described as “very penal” by Fleetwood. This tiny yet dangerous par three could lead to critical drama towards the end, with the challenge lying in choosing the right club.
Weather conditions are expected to play a significant role at the Open. After a heatwave in June, recent rain has fostered the growth of rough, and wetter weather is expected over the weekend.
Security measures have been increased due to potential threats of protest, and players have been briefed not to engage in case of any disruptions during play. As per Jon Rahm, any protesters would be wise not to cross him during a challenging hole.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Open Championship 2023
When is the 151st Open Championship taking place?
The 151st Open Championship is scheduled from Thursday, July 20 to Sunday, July 23, 2023.
Where is the Open Championship 2023 being held?
The Open Championship 2023 is being held at the Royal Liverpool, Hoylake.
Who are the notable contenders for the Open Championship 2023?
The key contenders for the 2023 Open Championship include Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm, and others like Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, and Matt Fitzpatrick.
Who is the defending champion of the Open Championship?
As of 2023, the defending champion of the Open Championship is Cameron Smith.
What significant changes have been made to the course since the last Open Championship at Hoylake?
One major change since the last Open Championship at Hoylake is the construction of a new 17th hole, which is a small but challenging par three.
Who won the Open Championship the last time it was held at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake?
Rory McIlroy won the Open Championship the last time it was held at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake, in 2014.
How can I follow the coverage of the Open Championship 2023?
The Open Championship 2023 can be followed through live radio and text commentary on the Sport News Center website. Video clips will be made available each day, and there will be a daily highlights programme on BBC Two from 20:00 BST.