Australian chances at Royal Liverpool
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2014 The Open Championship | Preview | 14 Jul 2014
Eight Australians are currently in the field for this year’s Open Championship beginning at Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) on July 17th.
The only hope for any further Australian to make the field is if one of them was to win either the Scottish Open or John Deere Classic and is not already qualified.
Royal Liverpool has already seen one Australian Open Championship victory, that coming when Peter Thomson won the third of his five titles with success in 1956.
Australian chances have been enhanced by the improved performances of Adam Scott at the Open Championship in recent years, his near misses in 2012 and 2013 and an impressive 8th place at Royal Lverpool in 2006 leaving him as one of the favourites for success this year.
Let’s look at the Australian challenge and assess their chances.
Ideally, it might have been good to see Scott play an event between the US Open and Open Championships but his ‘less is more’ scheduling has worked well for him in recent years. Scott finished 8th at Royal Liverpool in 2006 despite dropping several strokes late in the event. That finish stood as his best finish at the Open and his best in a major championship until that point although in recent years he has become one of the game’s best at the elite level.
Scott won in Fort Worth, finished 4th at the Memorial and recorded his best ever finish at the US Open when 9th at Pinehurst so he is in good form and has good memories of Royal Liverpool. His chances appear very good although I would like to have seen him fit in one more event as it will have been a month since his last competitive outing.
Led the Open Championship during the final round in each of the last two years so a genuine chance of winning a second major title.
The 26 year old Queenlander has shown, in his still relatively short career, that he loves the big stage. Seven top tens in 14 major starts further emphasises just that. He does, though, not enjoy such a good record at the Open Championship with a best of 30th in three starts. There have been genuine excuses though and perhaps it would be better to focus on his overall record and some of his recent form.
He was superb at the recent US Open on a limited campaign and although he withdrew from the Greenbrier Classic after missing the cut at the Quicken Loans event, if his thumb injury is not causing too many problems then he has some sort of chance to add to his fine major championship record.
This will be Senden’s eighth Open Championship although the Queenslander has a best of only 34th and made only four cuts. He is, however, playing at a significantly higher level this season and although he has missed his last two cuts, his great week at the Masters, where he finished a personal best of 8th and won the Valspar, suggest his game is at a much higher level in 2014. Certainly a great chance to improve on his previous best which came in 2012. Senden is playing this week’s John Deere Classic as his lead in event.
34 year old US based New South Welshman, Jones, is playing the Open Championship for the first occasion having qualified by his improved world ranking which came mainly as a result of his Houston Open Championship victory in May. Jones sneaks along under the radar as far as the Australians are concerned but has done very well on the PGA Tour. Hard to imagine he can contend here but he will be better for the experience and better next time he plays the event. He is playing the Scottish Open as his lead up event.
Leishman earns a start courtesy of his place in the Presidents Cup team last year and will play his 4th Open Championship, only one of which he has survived to the weekend (2010) before finishing 60th. He has proven to be more than capable of playing the bigger events well however and although contention is probably beyond him this year he is capable of a significant improvement on previous efforts.
Leishman missed the cut at his last start at the Greenbrier Classic but prior to that had put together several solid finishes on the PGA Tour.
Rumford earns his start courtesy of his great season in Europe last year although this year things are a little different having secured only one top ten in 13 starts in Europe. Surprisingly Rumford has played only three Open Championships including the 2006 version where, interestingly, he finished a very respectable 16th. His game at present appears below where it needs to be to reproduce that sort of finish however.
Former NSW golfer who now lives in the US, Gibson is an immensely talented golfer although very inexperienced at this level. He gained his start as a result of finishing 3rd behind Rory McIlory and Adam Scott at the Australian Open. He has played links golf previously at the British Amateur Championship but, despite a great effort to make the field, appears out of his depth here.
Like Gibson, McPherson is in the field as a result of a great week at the Australian Open which doubled as the IFQ for the Australasian region. McPherson is not new to British golf having won the British Amateur just up the road at Hillside in 2011 and played the Open at St Georges as a result.
MacPherson has put together some nice finishes in 2014 but they have been at a much lower level than that he faces this week. If he makes the cut he will have had a great week and in fact just to make the field is an achievement in itself.