Weather is expected to play a factor at Royal Portrush, home of The Open Championship, this year. With steady wind and rain in the projected forecast along Dunluce Road in Portrush, UK, we can make several assumptions when predicting the winning score and winning player of the oldest major in golf. The first of which is it will likely be someone who has experience winning in these conditions; beyond the obvious, here’s a breakdown with picks and predictions for The Open.
Royal Portrush Weather Forecast
There is a 40-70 percent chance of precipitation and wind speeds are projected to be between 9-14 MPH during the four days of The Open Championship. With no lightning in the forecast as of writing, competitors will have to play through the weather in order to hoist the Claret Jug on Sunday.
The Open Winning Score Prediction
Royal Portrush isn’t the longest course (7,300-plus yards) and it doesn’t have as many bunkers (60) as you see on traditional links courses. But there are several OB areas (including a tight one along the fairway on 18), undulation changes (also non-typical of a link course) and tons of fescue and deep rough outside of the fairways to challenge the golfers. The course plays to a Par 71, so even would be 284. Combine the weather with the tough course conditions and my prediction is you’re looking at a final score of 277 (-7).
Picks to Win The Open Championship
Favorite: Rory McIlroy
If anyone doesn’t have McIlroy on their list of players most likely to win, they’re doing you a disservice. Not only did he grow up nearby and played this course regularly as a kid, but he’s having an unbelievable season. With two wins, one runner-up finish and 11 Top 10s in 14 PGA Tour events this year, you have to look at him the same way the oddsmakers do: as the betting favorite. Now, we’ve seen him struggle on Sundays and we’ve seen him struggle on the greens in majors. That’s not a great recipe for success in this pressure-packed environment. But, in what has to be described as a home-course advantage, McIlroy should thrive.
Dark Horse: Emiliano Grillo
If you’re a casual golf fan, you probably don’t know much about Emiliano Grillo. Quite frankly, he’s not even a huge name within golf circles. But he has the game and experience to compete in Europe. His best finish in a major came at The Open in 2016, when he finished T-12. He also played four years on the European Tour, meaning he has experience on the other side of the pond. He might be a little raw to win, but he has made the cut at the previous three majors this year, giving him valuable experience of playing on the weekends in an intense environment.
America’s Best Hope: Matt Kuchar
Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods are among the Top-5 favorites (in terms of betting odds) this year. But Matt Kuchar represents America’s best chance to take home the title. At 41, he can’t hit it with the big boys, but he is accurate, a critical trait at Royal Portrush. He finished inside the Top 10 in the last two Open Championships, including a T-2 in 2017. This year he’s finished inside the Top 16 at all three majors. He also has two wins and two runner-up finishes on his resume this season. Kuchar is playing the best golf of his life right now, and this might be his best chance to claim his first major.
Last Man Standing: John Rahm
This field is stacked, and in taking a step back, about 20 players have a realistic chance to win. But in a year highlighted by Tiger’s return, Koepka’s dominance and Gary Woodland’s shocking U.S. Open victory, we could get back to what had become the norm before this season: Young guys establishing themselves as major champions. Rahm finished T-3 at the U.S. Open (links course) and also finished T-9 at the Masters. He’s played well in seemingly every big tournament this year and is coming off a win at the Irish Open. It is tough to win in back-to-back weeks, but Rahm has the game to do it.