Royal Birkdale is set to provide the truest test of links golf when the sport’s most cherished major gets underway on Thursday.
Deeply unforgiving, Claret Jug aspirations may diminish for many of the 156 golfers within the first nine holes of their opening round.
A steady, rather than spectacular, start is required at Birkdale.
The last three Open winners to have cracked the course code have all finished over par in the first round, including 2008 champion Padraig Harrington, who navigated a four-over 74 in adverse conditions.
Players will have to be prepared for inclement weather this week and that could suit rising local star TOMMY FLEETWOOD.
This season’s French Open winner and US Open fourth grew up within walking distance of the course, so the Southport native will be used to facing the elements at Birkdale.
He has an early tee off time which could come in handy too.
At 40/1 with 188BET, Fleetwood looks a great price to hold the first round lead.
Elsewhere, few golfers in the field will have fonder memories of Royal Birkdale than JUSTIN ROSE.
Tied for fourth in 1998, 17-year-old Rose holed his third shot on the 72nd hole to capture the silver medal for low amateur.
Fast forward 19 years, Rose is an Olympic Gold Medallist, US Open champion and has a great chance of adding another big title to his collection at Birkdale this weekend.
Finishing second in the Masters earlier this year, his calm attitude good value at 20/1 to lift the Claret Jug.
However, a general price of top Englishman at 7/2 may well prove a safer option.
Justin Rose Top Englishman - 7/2 (General)
Tommy Fleetwood First Round Leader e/w - 40/1 (188BET)