HOYLAKE: The world’s top golfers gathered at Hoylake today, as in-form Rory McIlroy and world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler lead the contenders at the 151st British Open.
At 6.35 a.m. local time, England’s Matthew Jordan blasted the first shot off the tee. The world No. 329 quickly claimed the lead on the course where he is a member by shooting a front nine score of two under par.
Later, when he plays at the Royal Liverpool course where he won the Claret Jug for the lone time in 2014, McIlroy will command attention.
The Northern Irishman followed up that triumph by winning the PGA Championship in the month that followed, but he has only been able to win four Major championships since then.
McIlroy just lost the US Open to Wyndham Clark by one stroke last month. He also came agonizingly close to winning the Open Championship at St. Andrews last year.
However, last weekend’s birdie-birdie finish in blustery conditions dispelled concerns about the 34-year-old’s capacity to manage the pressure heading down the stretch on Sunday. McIlroy won the Scottish Open for the first time.
McIlroy remarked, “I could not have asked for better preparation.
“The final two holes I played (in Scotland) were an amazing finish and a perfect way to start this week,” I said.
“I’ve had a terrific nine years and have won several events, but I’ve been unable to beat the big four. I’m hoping to be able to change that this week.”
Today, McIlroy tees off at roughly 2 p.m. alongside Masters champion Jon Rahm and the former No. 1 in the world, Justin Rose.
Scheffler has also had a fantastic season on the PGA Tour, although he hasn’t added to his one major victory at the Masters in 2022.
The American was in the top three at both the PGA Championship and US Open, and in 16 tournaments this year, he has not finished worse than 12th.
“Winning is incredibly enjoyable. Finishing third is less enjoyable, according to Scheffler.
Golf is one of those activities where, in my opinion, you never truly feel satisfied. I believe you continually demand more.
At 8.47 am, Scheffler and local favorite Tommy Fleetwood and former Masters champion Adam Scott take the first tee in another of the featured groups.
The unexpected announcement that the PGA and DP World Tours intend to merge with the independent Saudi-backed LIV Golf series comes only weeks before the year’s final Major.
The athletes on both sides of the divide lack specific information about what the future of the sport will entail due to a “framework agreement” between the parties.
The current champion, Cameron Smith, defected to LIV shortly after winning his first Major a year ago. “I don’t even think the guys that are trying to sort it out really know what the outcome is going to be like,” he added.
Without a firm agreement, the greatest players in the world wouldn’t compete together again until the Masters in April of next year.
Smith and Brooks Koepka’s performance has so far disproved fears that the players would lose their competitive edge after accepting hefty signing fees to join LIV.
After placing second at the Masters, Koepka won his fifth Major at the PGA Championship.
Those wins have elevated Koepka into Ryder Cup contention despite the fact that he is only qualified to earn points at the Majors.
He won’t be easy to ignore after another great performance, and he isn’t the only player vying for US captain Zack Johnson’s attention.
“I’d enjoy a busy week. Wining is the obvious objective. Every week is like that, according to 2021 Open champion Collin Morikawa.
“Winning the Ryder Cup has obviously been and continues to be a huge goal of mine for the past two years, especially turning into the beginning of this year.