All about experience

Golf is a young man’s game these days, except at the Open, which presents a challenge more suited to older heads.

While the then-23-year-old Jordan Spieth triumphed at Royal Birkdale last year, he was just the third player in the last 13 years to have won the Claret Jug under 35.

Four of the last seven winners have been 40 and above, so this really is a tournament to back the veterans.

Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia and 2016 champion Henrik Stenson all fit the bill, while youngsters Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas might struggle to get to grips with Carnoustie.

You can, however, be too old to win the Open. No player over the age of 43 has won it in the last 20 years, and the oldest Open champion in history is Tom Morris, who triumphed at 46 years old back in 1867.

That’s bad news for the 47-year-old Phil Mickelson.

Open season?

Unlike the other majors, an impressive result at the Open is not necessarily an indicator that a player will perform well the following year, with five of the last nine champions missing the cut the previous year.

It is almost essential, however, that a player has played well at the Championship in the past, as 16 of the last 20 winners had at least one top-10 finish prior to their victory.

Each of the last seven winners had a top-six at the Open in the past, so players like Tommy Fleetwood, Patrick Reed and Matthew Fitzpatrick – none of whom have a strong history at the tournament – can be ruled out.

That 15 of the last 20 champions were inside the top 40 of the world rankings at the time of their triumph indicates this isn’t a tournament for the outsiders, either.

In the last 20 years, 15 champions also had double-digit career victories on the PGA and European Tours, so it’s certainly a week to back the serial winners.

Form factor

The Open is such a test that it’s imperative a player comes into the tournament in form.

Only three of the last 20 champions had missed the cut in their previous start, and 14 of the last 20 had already won at least once in the season of their victory.

Fleetwood, Mickelson and Hideki Matsuyama are all coming off missed cuts, so it’s hard to see them playing their best this week.

The Scottish Open gives players a chance to get used to links golf and the course conditions a week before the Open Championship, and those who have taken the opportunity to play in that event have benefitted in recent years.

Six of the last eight Open winners played in Scotland in their previous start, so this year’s champion will probably have been in action at Gullane a week ago.

Profile of a winner


Only two players meet all of our criteria this week.

Justin Rose finished joint-ninth at last week’s Scottish Open and has already won once this year at May’s Fort Worth Invitational.

The 37-year-old is currently ranked third in the world, has 17 career wins and has had a top-10 finish at the Open before, placing fourth as an amateur back in 1998.

The Open is actually the major at which Rose has had the least success over the course of his career, but the hard, dry conditions at Carnoustie this week should suit him perfectly given how well he plays at similar courses in America and the Middle East.

It’s no surprise he’s currently the second favourite at .

Ian Poulter is another Englishman who should benefit from those conditions, having won the Houston Open in April and played in the US for years.

The 42-year-old is yet to win a major but has a runner-up finish at the Open under his belt, along with 13 all-time wins.

The world No. 29 also played in Scotland last week, finishing tied for 30th, and looks a great bet this week at .

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