Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Former champion Mark O'Meara to tee off first at the Open

Former champion Mark O'Meara to tee off first at the Open

Mark O'Meara, Open champion at Royal Birkdale 19 years ago, will start the 146 championship although numerous big favourites will get longer in their beds on Thursday.

Sweden's Henrik Stenson won the tournament past year in historic fashion, scoring the lowest final round by a victor of The Open, and setting a new 72-hole Championship record of twenty-under-par. That latter result was also at St Andrews and he is a victor in the Dunhill Links Championship - perhaps he is one of the many players who thrives on the Old Course, but not so much on other links courses?

Youngster Jon Rahm is at the top of his game with six top 10 finishes in his last 10 outings and can be backed at odds of 18/1.

"Birkdale was where Seve introduced himself to world golf when he finished joint second with Jack Nicklaus in 1976 behind American Johnny Miller", said Jacklin, ambassador for the Farmfoods British Par 3 Championship from August 8-11 (britishpar3.com).

Jacklin, who also lifted the U.S. Open title in 1970 and is Europe's most successful Ryder Cup captain of all time after leading the team to two victories and one tie in four matches between 1983-89, said Birkdale was one of his favourite courses. Among current active golfers, only Tiger Woods (14), Phil Mickelson (5) and Ernie Els (4) can boast as many or more major wins.

Rahm is now seventh in the world rankings. The last English player to lift the Claret Jug on English soil was Tony Jacklin, 48 years ago at Lytham. Harrington is also the last golfer to win back-to-back Opens, having also claimed the Claret Jug in 2007. Mark O'Meara won with an even-par aggregate in 1998, prior to Harrington's three-over total proving enough nine years ago.

However relatively few World Top 20 players will play in the morning wave.

Garcia is fifth in the world rankings.

McIlroy has had a less-than-ideal build-up to the Merseyside major, missing the cut in his last two events.

Masters victor Sergio Garcia and runner up Justin Rose come in at 20/1, alongside Rory McIlroy, who will be looking to regain the title he won in 2014.

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