Rory McIlroy knows his way around Royal Portrush and is rightly one of the favourites

  • The Open at Royal Portrush gets underway on Thursday in Northern Ireland 
  • Rory McIlroy (9/1) and Brooks Koekpa (11/1) are two of the favourites to win
  • Gary Woodland (70/1) is the reigning US Open champion and he is worth a punt
  • Jon Rahm (8/1) is one of the hottest players on the tour after winning Irish Open 
  • Tommy Fleetwood (30/1) and Justin Thomas (30/1) should also be considered

Head down to the cosy Harbour Bar by the quayside in Portrush and, if you can comprehend a word amid the Guinness-fuelled singalongs, you’ll find plenty of local punters keen to share a hot tip for The Open at their beloved course.

You can be sure to hear a range of winners as wide as Darren Clarke’s front lawn (it’s a very big house), and it won’t just be the Black Stuff talking. As always these days, Brooks Koepka deserves to be considered the man to beat, along with Rory McIlroy, who broke the Dunluce Links course record aged just 16 with a staggering 61.

But this is The Open, which can be the most capricious of majors, won and lost with a couple of bad bounces of the ball on the humps and hollows of links land, or on a morning when the wind kicks up and rain pours before clearing and leaving late starters bathed in sunshine.

In others words, no-one is ever nailed-on to win The Open – and unfancied outsiders can become genuine contenders in just a couple of hours.

Rory McIlroy knows his way around Royal Portrush and is rightly one of the favourites
Rory McIlroy knows his way around Royal Portrush and is rightly one of the favourites

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