BRITISH OPEN ’22: A look at top contenders for St. Andrews

July 9, 2022 GMT

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — JUSTIN THOMAS

Age: 29.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 5.

Worldwide victories: 15.

Majors: PGA Championship (2017, 2022).

British Opens: 5. Best finish: Tie for 11th at Royal Portrush in 2011.

British Open moment: Two behind after the opening round at Royal Birkdale in 2017, he tried three times to hack out of thick grass on the sixth hole and couldn’t find the ball after the third try. He made a 9 and went on to shoot 80 to miss the cut.

Backspin: Thomas has done everything required of an elite player, from winning multiple majors to reaching No. 1 in the world, even winning a FedEx Cup. Winning two majors in one year would take that to another level.

XANDER SCHAUFFELE

Age: 28.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 11.

Worldwide victories: 7.

Majors: None.

British Opens: 4. Best finish: Tie for second at Carnoustie in 2018.

British Open moment: One shot out of the lead on the 71st hole, hitting 4-iron well right of the 17th green at Carnoustie and making bogey.

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Backspin: Nothing would go with Olympic gold better than a silver claret jug. Schauffele was performing well in majors before he was winning PGA Tour events. Now that he has two titles this year, he could be poised for the breakthrough he needs to get some recognition.

JORDAN SPIETH

Age: 28.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 12.

Worldwide victories: 16.

Majors: Masters (2015), U.S. Open (2015), British Open (2017).

British Opens: 8. Best finish: Won at Royal Birkdale.

British Open moment: Taking a penalty drop on the driving range at Royal Birkdale, and then going birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie to win in 2017.

Backspin: A bogey on the Road Hole in 2015 is all that kept Spieth out of a playoff at St. Andrews in 2015 and a shot at the third leg of the Grand Slam. He is winning again. His results remain inconsistent. He is no less entertaining.

JON RAHM

Age: 27.

Country: Spain.

World ranking: 3.

Worldwide victories: 14.

Majors: U.S. Open (2021).

British Opens: 5. Best finish: Tie for third at Royal St. George’s in 2021.

British Open moment: Making four straight birdies on the back nine at Royal St. George’s in 2021 to make a late charge that fell short.

Backspin: Rahm let a good chance get away from him at the U.S. Open. He’s not likely to do that again, especially at the British, especially with his golf idol Seve Ballesteros winning at the Old Course in 1984.

RORY MCILROY

Age: 33.

Country: Northern Ireland.

World ranking: 2.

Worldwide victories: 29.

Majors: PGA Championship (2012, 2014), U.S. Open (2011), British Open (2014).

British Opens: 12. Best finish: Won at Royal Liverpool in 2014.

British Open moment: Going wire-to-wire at Royal Liverpool to win the claret jug.

Backspin: McIlroy is one of two players with top 10s in all three majors this year. The difference between him and Will Zalatoris is that McIlroy didn’t have a chance to win any of them in the final hour. He has found his voice as a pitchman for the PGA Tour. He’s overdue finding his game for a major again.

TIGER WOODS

Age: 46.

Country: United States.

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World ranking: 974.

Worldwide victories: 93.

Majors: Masters (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2019), U.S. Open (2000, 2002, 2008), Britsh Open (2000, 2005, 2006), PGA Championship (1999, 2000, 2006, 2007).

British Opens: 21. Best finish: Won at St. Andrews in 2000 and 2005 and at Royal Liverpool in 2006.

British Open moment: Never hitting into a pot bunker in four rounds at St. Andrews in 2000 to win by eight and complete the career Grand Slam.

Backspin: Woods is forever links with the Masters and his five green jackets. His iron player, imagination and putting was always suited for links golf. His legs are fragile and making the cut is seen as a win. But if he has one more piece of magic left, St. Andrews is the place for him. No one has ever won an Open at St. Andrews more than twice.

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SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER

Age: 26.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 1.

Worldwide victories: 4.

Majors: Masters (2022).

British Opens: 1. Best finish: Tie for eighth at Royal St. George’s in 2021.

British Open moment: Making four bogeys in his first 10 holes of the final round at Royal St. George’s when starting the final round within four of the lead.

Backspin: Consider the missed cut at the PGA Championship an aberration. Scheffler went from a comfortable Masters win to a putt away from having a chance to win the U.S. Open. While eight players have won the Masters and British Open in the same year -- all of them are in the Hall of Fame -- Nick Faldo is the only player to do it at St. Andrews.

COLLIN MORIKAWA

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Age: 25.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 5.

Worldwide victories: 6.

Majors: PGA Championship (2021), British Open (2022).

British Opens: 1. Best finish: Won at Royal St. George’s in 2021.

British Open moment: Winning in his British Open debut by beating former Open champions Louis Oosthuizen and Jordan Spieth.

Backspin: His chipping and putting were sublime a year ago. His game hasn’t quite been the same this year. Morikawa at least gave himself a chance at the U.S. Open. He needs a claret jug to have three straight years winning a major. Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Jack Nicklaus are the only players who can claim that kind of streak in the last 50 years.

WILL ZALATORIS

Age: 25.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 13.

Worldwide victories: None.

Majors: None.

British Opens: 1. Best finish: Withdrew after one round at Royal St. George’s in 2021.

British Open moment: Hacking out of the hay on the 15th hole that sent a tingling feeling down is leg. He withdrew after the opening round with a 69.

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Backspin: Zalatoris is on the kind of major run that Rickie Fowler enjoyed in 2014, except that Zalatoris is giving himself chances down the stretch. He lost in a playoff at the PGA Championship. He was a 15-foot putt away from forcing a playoff at the U.S. Open. His lone British Open lasted only one round last year because of a rough-induced injury.

MATT FITZPATRICK

Age: 27.

Country: England.

World ranking: 10.

Worldwide victories: 8.

Majors: U.S. Open (2022).

British Opens: 6. Tie for 20th at Royal Portrush in 2019.

British Open moment: Making the cut as an amateur at Muirfield in 2013. He tied for 44th.

Backspin: Fitzpatrick has added power to his control and is meticulous preparation, and it paid off in a major championship. Now the Englishman faces a links test where his game would thrive if the wind provides the Old Course with its best defense.

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