Bryce Ritchie - Editor
The Aussie has been prepping at Hoylake longer than any other player in the field. He was here so early the range wasn't even open. He played 30 holes in one day and will now likely have played the golf course in all weathers. The world No.1 - now picky with his schedule to suit his major charge - is the player to beat this week.
GMac might just have peaked at the perfect time. A streaky player, he is extremely capable when he wants to be and, as a result, should probably win more. I like how the course suits his game. He's a good grinder, and will be happy to hang in there when required.
Considering he's going for a third win in a row, it would be folly not to include the likeable Englishman as a pick. But it's a tall order, especially with a not-so-great Open record in his locker. "He is the guy this week. He just has to be," one American writer told me earlier in the week. I'm not going to disagree.
Michael McEwan (@MMcEwanBunkered) - Assistant Editor
The world No.2 is in pretty good form just now, having finished in the top seven of his last five European Tour events. Sweden is long overdue a male major winner and the big man told me earlier this week that he now feels comfortable on the biggest stages in golf. Good form and confidence are like two birdies on your card before you've even started and so I fully expect him to go one better than his runner-up finish last year.
Only four players - Ben Hogan (1953), Lee Trevino (1971), Tom Watson (1982) and Tiger Woods (2000) - have ever won the US Open and Open back-to-back. On that basis, history is against the big German. Even so, did you see the way he bossed Pinehurst last month? If he can bring that accuracy and putting conviction to Hoylake, he will be tough to beat.
Okay, so it's maybe more an each-way bet than anything but Lowry (going off at 80/1 at the time of writing) is an interesting one. A handy links player, he's starting to hit form after a difficult start to the season. He was, for example, second at Wentworth only a matter of weeks ago and tied for fourth at Royal Aberdeen just last weekend. He has to be a dark horse.
Craig Dennett (@Craig_Dennett) - Staff Writer
Young, vibrant, fun, colourful – just some of the many ways to describe Fowler. No matter how you describe him, though, his talent is unquestionable. He played in the Scottish Open for the first time last week and showed he has a great ability to battle against the conditions and keep a score going. That proved to me that he has the game to win the Open.
An Open champion in 2007 and 2008, Harrington has been in the golfing wilderness somewhat over recent years. Several swing changes that didn’t take hold and a loss of form all amounted to a poor few years for the Irishman but, sometimes, you just get a feeling, and I believe there’s every chance Harrington could add a third Claret Jug to his collection this Sunday.
A seven-time winner on the PGA Tour, ‘Kuch’ has been playing some great golf this year. He’s a man who always finds his way into contention at majors, but hasn’t quite managed to enter that winner’s circle just yet. Tied-ninth and tied-15th at Royal Lytham and Muirfield in the last two years have shown he has the game to cope with links golf. This could very well be his week.
Joseph Brady (@bradytwinpart1) - bunkered.co.uk host
The Englishman is in the form of his life and has risen to No.3 in the world rankings. He’s also won back-to-back events, including last weekend’s Scottish Open, where he shot a bogey-free final round of 65 to win by two shots. With a US Open win under his belt, there’s no reason why he can’t add another major to that, making it three straight victories on tour.
In the last two Open Championships, ‘Kuch’ has finished tied 15 and ninth respectively, so he’s comfortable chasing the Claret Jug. The American is also enjoying a fantastic season so far, with eight top ten finishes to his name. He’s the world No.5, but has never won a major. Royal Liverpool could be the venue where the 36-year-old joins the elite.
The flamboyant American is a lover of all things links, and he shone at Royal Aberdeen last week, carding a six-under-par final round to end the tournament on nine-under. His form in majors this year is also very impressive. The 25-year-old came fifth in the Masters earlier in the year and was runner-up to Martin Kaymer in the US Open at Pinehurst. He may just go one better this time and claim first spot in a major.