Unrivalled in tradition and history, The Open Championship is the final of the four majors to be played every year. As the world’s oldest golf tournament, it challenges its competitors to tackle the wind-swept fairways of links golf, in the hope of raising one of the game’s most iconic trophies – the Claret Jug.
Engraved with the names of golf's greatest stars, every player dreams of being heralded as the Champion Golfer of the Year. This year the tournament, now in its 151st year, heads to Royal Liverpool Golf Club at Hoylake to be played between 20-23rd July.
The venue has hosted The Open twelve times before, for the first time in 1897 and most recently in 2014. That year, Irish superstar Rory McIlroy lifted the trophy, clinching his first Open Championship with a two-shot victory over Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler. Legends of the game to have won at Royal Liverpool include Tiger Woods (2006), Bobby Jones (1930) and Walter Hagen (1924). Woods famously used his driver just once during his victory. Last year, Cameron Smith lifted the Claret Jug at St Andrews, Scotland, after equalling the lowest score to par in major championship history at -20. He then left the PGA Tour in favour of LIV Golf, potentially jeopardising his chances of winning another Open, due to the ongoing PGA-LIV conflict. However, any fears the Australian might have had were alleviated in February this year, when the R&A announced that qualifying LIV Golf members will be allowed to compete at Royal Liverpool, ensuring Smith will be eligible to defend his title.
There’s always a high level of excitement and anticipation in the build-up to any major, but this year’s Open already contains the ingredients required for a ‘classic’. Starting with the course, several holes at Royal Liverpool have undergone significant changes since 2014, including the 17th and 18th. These have been redesigned to produce a thrilling and dramatic finish to the tournament. Off the course, the simmering rivalry between LIV Golf and PGA Tour members continues to intrigue. As has been the trend in golf since LIV shook things up, the purse at this year’s Open will likely be an eye-watering amount. Although the 2023 prize pot has yet to be announced at the time of writing, last year’s total prize fund was a staggering $14 million (£11.5 million), with Smith pocketing $2.5 million (£2 million) for his victory. Players from Europe and America will also be vying for valuable Ryder Cup points, with the biennial competition being played in Rome this September. With many golfers enjoying fruitful seasons, it'll be hard to predict who'll be walking away with the spoils. The world number one spot has already changed hands several times this year with a multitude of golfers enjoying fruitful seasons. If recent history is anything to go by, the last nine winners have all lifted the Claret Jug for the first time, but then again the Open is anything but predictable, which makes for exhilarating viewing.