World number one Rory McIlroy has been ruled out of the upcoming Open Championship after the Northern Irishman ruptured his ankle ligaments whilst playing football with his friends. The event, which will take place over the Old Course at St Andrews for the first time since 2010, is set to get under way on 16th July but McIlroy will sit on the sidelines after making the decision to opt out of the competition. McIlroy's absence opens the door for a number of potential candidates, with Masters and US Open winner Jordan Spieth leading the way ahead of Dustin Johnson and Englishman Justin Rose.
Spieth has been by far the best player in golf throughout 2015 and the American will be extremely confident going into the third major of the season. Spieth was phenomenal at Augusta earlier in the year as he finished a sensational 18-under-par, which equalled Tiger Woods' record lowest score from 1997. Meanwhile, he also became the first man in 39 years to lead the Masters from start to finish and racked up 28 birdies throughout the tournament. This was also a record for Augusta.
In the US Open, Spieth was fortunate to claim victory outright after Johnson three-putted from 12 yards to hand the title to the youngster. He finished five-under-par on a very tricky course at Chambers Bay and became the youngest man to lift the famous event since the legendary Bobby Jones in 1923. The victory ensured that Spieth joined five other players to win the Masters and US Open in the same calendar year. Spieth will remain modest ahead of the tournament but he will be optimistic of his chances ahead of the Scottish event. At the time of writing, betfair price the American at 6/1 to win the Open Championship and a third major title of the season.
Johnson will still be bitterly disappointed about his three-putt on the final hole of the US Open but will be fully focussed on bouncing back to claim his first major success. Johnson has performed superbly during major championships over the last two years and will be hoping that luck is on his side at St Andrews. Since finishing tied for eighth in the 2013 PGA Championship, Johnson has finished in the top 12 in four of the five major events that he has entered. He only missed the cut in the 2014 Masters.
The American is renowned for his exceptionally long drives and the Open Championship course at St Andrews will certainly suit somebody with Johnson's attributes. If he is within a few shots of the leader heading into the weekend, then Johnson will fancy his chances of success at the event. However, the American must not let his mistake at the US Open play on his mind. If he remains psychologically strong, he will stand a great chance of responding in the best possible way and claiming a
maiden major title that has eluded him for such a long time
Justin Rose has been in fine form throughout the opening half of 2015 and the Englishman will fancy his chances of upsetting the two Americans at St Andrews next week. Rose finished second to Spieth at the Masters with an impressive 14-under-par. That is a score that would have been good enough to win the tournament in 12 of the last 13 years. Since then, he has been in scintillating form and won the Zurich Classic with an impressive 22-under-par. Rose then finished second at the Memorial Tournament before recording a disappointing yet respectable five-over-par at the US Open to finish joint-27th.
The Englishman doesn't have a great record at the Open Championship and will be looking for a much improved performance back at St Andrews. Rose has missed the cut in three of the last five years and will be hoping for better luck this time around. The 2013 US Open champion is certainly talented and more than capable of lifting the trophy but he will have to remain fully focused on his golf rather than his past record in the competition. He is currently competing in the Scottish Open, a competition that Rose believes will
prepare him perfectly for the major event.
by Pablo Herrero
Spieth remains the standout candidate to take the Open Championship crown as he looks to become the first golfer of all-time to win each of the sport's four major championships in the same year. The likes of Johnson and Rose will both be eager to beat the American to the title but ultimately, with McIlroy out injured, Spieth has the opportunity to make history and could even overtake the Northern Irishman as the world number one if he wins the tournament.