68 Years Later, the Open Championship Returns to Royal Portrush

For the first time since 1951 when Max Faulkner lifted the Claret Jug and only the second time in the competition’s history, the Open Championship returns to the Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland at long last. With just shy of $2 million for the winner, this is an event that all the top golfers will want to win.

The greens and fairways are in pristine condition and almost ready to host golf’s oldest major championship again, set to take place between July 14 to 21, 2019. Currently ranked as the 6th best course in Britain and 15th in the world according to the Top 100 Golf Courses listings, the Dunluce Links is already a regular feature in both European and PGA Tour events.

Competition will undoubtedly be fierce this year, with any number of golfers in with a good chance of claiming the iconic Claret Jug. Nevertheless, this is also a championship that has consistently produced more than a few surprises over the years. The best-ranked golfers have often come unstuck at the most challenging British courses, leading to lesser fancied players enjoying their moment in the major tournament limelight.

2019 Open Championship Favorites

Thanks to his superb record over the last two years, Brooks Koepka is regarded as one of the clear favorites at +800 according to the latest Open Championship betting odds. However, those odds are matched by bookmakers who also fancy Rory McIlroy to perform well on home soil, on familiar stomping ground at Royal Portrush, and let’s not forget that he also won the tournament back in 2014.

Elsewhere, amongst the outside challengers are Dustin Johnson at +1200, with the 35-year-old hoping to go one better than he did at the Masters Tournament and the PGA Championship this year, finishing second at both events. Having sparked expectations of a triumphant return to the top after winning the 2019 Masters, nobody can ignore the potential for Tiger Woods to claim his second major of the year, even if his form at other tournaments since then has been somewhat sketchy.

Amongst the list of outsiders with serious potential to win the Open Championship and having started 2019 at the top of the PGA rankings, Justin Rose at +1800 is certainly an interesting option. He recorded good leaderboard positions at the majors this year, plus a string of solid minor tournament wins on challenging courses. Francesco Molinari can’t be ignored, either, given his potential to make the cut and challenge the leaderboard from practically nowhere. The Italian did precisely that to lift the Claret Jug at the 2018 Open Championship, although form this year has been mixed.

Huge Crowds Expected

Back when the Open Championship was last held at the Royal Portrush Golf Club in 1951, around 8,000 eager fans lined the fairways and greens. This year, fans in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, are chomping at the bit to attend this prestigious golf tournament, along with those travelling from elsewhere around the world.

Local hotels and lodgings will be packed to the rafters, providing a welcome boost for tourism and the regional economy, given that tickets for the Open Championship have sold out for the first time in the long history of the tournament. Indeed, all of the 190,000 tickets available sold out completely well in advance of the first tee-off on July 14. Fans are clearly eager to see the best golfers in action at this demanding course.

For those of us who haven’t been fortunate enough to get tickets for the event, we’ll just have to settle for tuning in via our TV’s when the Open gets underway. The global television audience is expected to reach around 600 million viewers, which, if the estimations prove accurate, could make it the most-watched major championship of all time.

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