The media is calling it “Glory’s Last Shot,” but the 2019 British Open — or Open Championship, as it’s formally known — is also one last shot for Golf Tips’ Top 25 Instructors to pick a major winner for this year.
Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland hosts the Open for the first time since 1951, making this only the second time the event has ventured outside England or Scotland.
Back then, Max Faulkner took the Claret Jug on the world Top 50 Dunluce links; this year, with a new course configuration and a much different, stronger, more talented field, who will prevail?
Rory McIlroy is the local favorite, but Brooks Koepka’s caddie hails from Portrush and knows every inch of the course.
Then there’s Tiger Woods, who proved he can still hoist the major hardware at Augusta National in April. Will he make a run? Will the capricious Irish weather play a part in the outcome?
Let’s see what our teaching pros say.
Dale Abraham, Bighorn Golf Club, Palm Desert, California — “Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose and Xander Schauffele would be my picks (plural, as I can’t narrow it down to only one of them).”
Warren Bottke, PGA National Resort and Spa, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (and Brooks Koepka’s longtime youth coach) — “Sorry gang, you know my first choice...Brooks!”
Alison Curdt, Wood Ranch Golf Club, Simi Valley, California — “I say Tiger! He’s been in ‘hiding’ prepping, and is ready to roar again!”
Mike Diffley, Pelham Country Club, Pelham, New York — “Justin Rose. He figured out short game at Pebble Beach and will be back to his old ball striking self. Also saw he was at Portrush last week playing and drinking a few Guinness. Perfect formula!”
Krista Dunton, Berkeley Hall, Okatie, South Carolina — “I gotta go with Rory…still pulling for him!”
Jane Frost, Jane Frost Golf Performance Center at Sandwich Hollows, Sandwich, Massachusetts — “Justin Rose in a dog fight with Koepka while Tiger lurks.”
Barry Goldstein, Inverrary Country Club, Lauderhill, Florida — “Rory McIlroy, because I believe in the power of hometowns.”
Bob Grissett, Osprey Point GC and Palm Beach Par 3 GC, Boca Raton and Palm Beach Florida — “Royal Portrush looks amazing and with the weather forecast looking dismal, it could go down as one of the greatest ever. It seems Brooks Koepka has a huge advantage with his caddie being a member and his knowing the ins and outs of Royal Portrush in all weather conditions. Rory McIlroy shot 61 here and considers it home. Tiger is telling us all he has no chance. Beware of lying G.O.A.T.s. Against all odds I’m picking Tiger. Everybody else is picking Brooks so I’ll be different. After all he is the greatest of all time.”
Wayne Flint, Highland Park Golf Course, Birmingham, Alabama — “I always pull for America , however I think that this major may play into a Euro’s hands because it hasn’t been played here in a long time. So I’m picking Rory because he is a great driver of the ball. And oh yeah, by the way, I think another good driver of the ball is our very own Dustin Johnson. Go USA.”
John Hughes, Falcon’s Fire Golf Club, Kissimmee, Florida — “Brooks. Dark Horses are Cantley, Fleetwood, Oosthuizen and Rose.”
Rob Labritz, Glenarbor Golf Club, Bedford Hills, New York — “Louis Oosthuizen has been playing well and is healthy. Perfect disposition to win this week!”
Cindy Miller, Diamond Hawk Golf Club and Harvest Hill Golf Club, Western New York — “I like Brooks.”
Tom Patri, TP Golf Schools, The Esplanade, Naples, Florida and The Hawthorns Golf & Country Club, Fishers, Indiana — “[Fellow Top 25 Instructor] Jim Roy in a walkover if he is healthy. If not, Brooks with tons of local knowledge on his bag. Caddie is the difference this week. Then the Masters in April, where he beats Rory and Spieth to the career Grand Slam.”
Jim Roy, Bellevue Country Club, Syracuse, New York — “Tom, I’m taking this week off. I think it may be time for a guy like Louie Oosthuizen. But my top American choice is D.J.”
Tom Stickney, Four Seasons Punta Mita, Mexico — “Going with an unknown to lead the first round (as always) and I hope the weather wins this week, giving those guys fits of wind blowing 50 mph. I LOVE the Open. I’m going with Matthew Wolff — why not, he played in Oklahoma in the wind and cold.”
Brandon Stooksbury, Idle Hour Country Club, Macon Georgia — “As much as I wouldn’t like it, D.J. will be hard to beat IF the weather holds. If the weather is bad, he might miss the cut!”
Tina Tombs, Arizona Biltmore, Phoenix, Arizona — “I am going to ditto Dale Abraham with one pick of his: Xander Schauffele. He is due.”
Deb Vangellow, Riverbend Country Club, Houston, Texas — “I. Like. Brooks. We. All. Like. Brooks. How. Could. You. Not. Like. Brooks. Especially. In. The. Majors.”