The Open Championship 2018 Player Guide: All the leading contenders rated!

Justin Rose
Can Justin Rose turn around an ordinary Open record?

Paul Krishnamurty rates all the likely winners of the Open Championship...

"Runner-up at Hoylake in 2014 and has gone close in all four majors, most recently when second at the Masters. Creativity and prowess in wind make him a perfect fit for the Open and played well again on links last week. The one caveat - doesn't win nearly enough for a player of his calibre."

Paul on Rickie Fowler

Dustin Johnson

Exchange odds 15.014/1
Last five Opens (most recent last): 32/12/49/9/54

World ranked number one, arrives with scintillating recent form under his belt and just falling short of a second US Open title. Boasts plenty of good links form and fared best in the Open amidst terrible weather in 2011. Has twice fallen away after strong starts since but evidently has the tools for this major.

Dustin Johnson in Mexico (720).JPG

Rickie Fowler

Exchange odds 19.018/1
Last five Opens: MC/2/30/46/22

Runner-up at Hoylake in 2014 and has gone close in all four majors, most recently when second at the Masters. Creativity and prowess in wind make him a perfect fit for the Open and played well again on links last week. The one caveat - doesn't win nearly enough for a player of his calibre.

Justin Rose

Exchange odds 19.018/1
Last five Opens: MC/23/6/22/54

Four times a winner in the last nine months and relentlessly consistent on the PGA Tour. Surprisingly ordinary Open record, never bettering fourth place as an amateur in 1998, given wider links form. Promising warm-up with four rounds of 67 or better for ninth at Gullane.

Rory McIlroy

Exchange odds 20.019/1
Last five Opens: MC/1/-/5/4

Four-time major champion, including the Open at Hoylake in 2014. Showed world-beating form when winning at Bay Hill in March but he's struggling for consistency and missed the cut at the US Open. Chances around a links largely hinge on the weather, given a poor record in strong winds. Well beaten in Ireland last time, largely due to a cold putter.

Tommy Fleetwood

Exchange odds 23.022/1
Last five Opens: -/MC/MC/MC/27

Winner of last year's Race to Dubai and arrives with high hopes after finishing runner-up at the US Open. Has the perfect combination of ballstriking excellence and links experience for an Open, which make previous failures to impact this major inexplicable. One of the home favourites, regardless of two poor results since Shinnecock Hills.

tommy fleetwood us open 1280x720.jpg

Jon Rahm

Exchange odds 24.023/1
Last five Opens: -/-/-/59/44

Rapidly emerging power-hitter with the potential to dominate in the years ahead. Three times a winner in the last six months and arrives off promising top-fives in Rolex Series events. Little impact in the Open to date but has won an Irish Open on a links and coped well with Ballyliffin last time.

Jordan Spieth

Exchange odds 25.024/1
Last five Opens: 44/36/4/30/1

Led from start to finish at Royal Birkdale last year for a third major title but Spieth arrives for his title defence under something of a cloud, having failed to win since. Defied similar doubts before the Masters with a fast-finishing third but has struggled since, missing his first major cut since 2014 at the US Open.

Jordan Spieth Claret Jug 1280.jpg

Justin Thomas

Exchange odds 27.026/1
Last five Opens: -/-/-/53/MC

World number two and reigning PGA champion. Prolific and consistent in the States but eighth place in the recent Open de France was first achievement of any note in Europe. Fell away badly after strong starts in the last two Opens and yet to prove he's mastered links golf. A big name worth opposing.

Brooks Koepka

Exchange odds 28.027/1
Last five Opens: MC/67/10/-/6

Very high-class American bomber who retained his US Open title at Shinnecock Hills last month, despite losing the first half of the season to a wrist injury. Earned plenty of European experience as a novice and has already registered two Open top-tens. Chance.


Henrik Stenson

Exchange odds 32.031/1
Last five Opens: 2/39/40/1/11

Every inch a tournament specialist, breaking his majors duck with a historic performance at Royal Troon in 2016, having previously finished top-three on four occasions. His extremely accurate long game will be a particularly useful asset around Carnoustie. Top-six at the Masters and US Open and must be there or thereabouts again.


Tiger Woods

Exchange odds 32.031/1
Last five Opens: 6/69/MC/-/-

Not seen at an Open since 2015, Tiger is finally back in contention for a fourth title having defied the pundits with a tremendous comeback from injury. Though not back to his totally dominant best, three top-fives on the PGA Tour suggest a win could be imminent. Contended throughout at Carnoustie in 1999 but was a distant 12th in the 2007 renewal here.

Sergio Garcia

Exchange odds 36.035/1
Last five Opens: 21/2/6/5/37

Top-ten regular and arguably the best links exponent never to have lifted the Claret Jug. Lost a play-off at Carnoustie in 2007 and chased home McIlroy at Hoylake in 2014. Not quite at his best this term but winning a second major title remains perfectly realistic around a course that evidently suits.


Francesco Molinari

Exchange odds 38.037/1
Last five Opens: 9/15/40/36/MC

Straight-hitting Italian in the form of his life. His last five events include winning the European Tour's flagship event, his first PGA Tour title by eight strokes and two second places. Open record is merely respectable but has shown plenty of links prowess in other events.

Alex Noren

Exchange odds 40.039/1
Last five Opens: WD/-/-/46/6

One of the most improved players in world golf, frequently contending on the PGA Tour before returning to Europe for a tenth title at the Open de France. Has already won a top links event at the Scottish Open and last year's sixth at Birkdale was a personal best in this major. One to keep on side right now.

Patrick Reed

Exchange odds 42.041/1
Last five Opens: -/MC/20/12/MC

America's hero from the last two Ryder Cups is now bringing his best form to the majors, breaking through at the Masters and contending strongly in the last three. Fearless competitor with a tremendous short game, who has enjoyed his past visits to Scotland. Contender.

patrick reed green jacket 1280x720.jpg

Jason Day

Exchange odds 42.041/1
Last five Opens: 32/58/4/22/27

Former PGA champion and four times a runner-up in majors, but has only enjoyed one good Open in six attempts, when incessant rain produced target golf conditions at St Andrews. Commands respect, nonetheless, with two prestigious PGA Tour wins under his belt already this year.

Tyrrell Hatton

Exchange odds 46.045/1
Last five Opens: MC/MC/MC/5/MC

A must-consider for any Open having twice won the Dunhill Links. Still very much on the up, producing his best finish in a US major when sixth at Shinnecock Hills and maintained that form with consecutive top-20s in the Rolex Series. Needs to work on anger management, however.

Branden Grace

Exchange odds 50.049/1
Last five Opens: 64/36/20/72/6

Top-rated candidate from a golfing nation that has landed seven major titles this century. Enjoyed by far his best Open to date at Birkdale last year when finishing sixth, adding to an impressive portfolio of high major finishes. That was overdue, given multiple wins around links or exposed courses.

Marc Leishman

Exchange odds 50.049/1
Last five Opens: MC/5/2/53/6

Has shown vast improvement to become a frequent contender in the biggest events. Particularly loves the Open, with a St Andrews play-off defeat the closest of three top-six finishes. Landed two big PGA Tour titles in 2017 and went close again recently when runner-up at Colonial.

Paul Casey

Exchange odds 50.049/1
Last five Opens: -/47/74/MC/11

Ultra-consistent and experienced but has surprisingly only contended once in this major, when third at St Andrews in 2010. Notched an overdue PGA Tour win at the Valspar Championship in March but has generally struggled to get over the line despite frequent opportunities and blew a big lead last time out.

Hideki Matsuyama

Exchange odds 65.064/1
Last five Opens: 6/39/18/MC/14

Best player yet to emerge from Japan and high on any list of future major champions. Breakthrough looks imminent after finishing top-20 in his last seven majors, including thrice at the Open, although slightly below par since failing to convert at last year's USPGA. Not wholly convincing in bad weather.

Hideki Matsuyama putts 1280.jpg

Ian Poulter

Exchange odds 75.074/1
Last five Opens: 3/MC/MC/-/14

Ryder Cup legend whose career seemed on a downward spiral before bouncing back with victory at the Houston Open in April and only missing one top-30 since. Solid record in recent majors and twice top-three in the Open. Has become a more accomplished links performer with age.

Matthew Fitzpatrick

Exchange odds 80.079/1
Last five Opens: 44/-/-/MC/44

One of England's brightest prospects with four European Tour wins, including the prestigious DP World Tour Championship. Now beginning to progress in the States, notably when 12th at the US Open. Yet to impact this major or generally thrive on links courses though.

Russell Knox

Exchange odds 80.079/1
Last five Opens: -/-/MC/30/MC

Few arrive in better form than the leading home hope. Won the Irish Open after finishing second in France and looked set to contend for a third straight week until a poor finish on Sunday. His extremely accurate long game should be perfect for penal Carnoustie.

Phil Mickelson

Exchange odds 90.089/1
Last five Opens: 1/23/20/2/MC

Legendary five-time major champion who took a while to master links golf, peaking in his forties with victory at Muirfield in 2013 and losing a dual at Troon in 2016. Missed last week's cut in Scotland and clearly not the force of old, but showed the game is still there by winning a World Golf Championship in March.

Louis Oosthuizen

Exchange odds 95.094/1
Last five Opens: WD/36/2/MC/MC

Shocked the world with a seven stroke victory at St Andrews in 2010 and proved it was no fluke by since finishing runner-up in all four majors, including at the same course in 2015. Not shown anything like his best at other links venues though, only making one further Open top-30.

Bubba Watson

Exchange odds 95.094/1
Last five Opens: 32/MC/MC/39/27

Huge-hitting left-hander and twice former Masters champion. Back to his very best with three PGA Tour victories in 2018, including June's Travelers Championship. Yet to transfer his expansive skills to links golf or this major though, failing to finish top-20 in nine attempts.

Thomas Pieters

Exchange odds 100.099/1
Last five Opens: -/-/-/30/44

Burst to prominence when top-scoring at the 2016 Ryder Cup, and made significant progress in 2017, contending for various prestigious PGA Tour events. Showing nothing like that level on either side of the Atlantic this year although promising last week sixth at Gullane, despite previously toiling around UK links courses.

Matt Kuchar

Exchange odds 110.0109/1
Last five Opens: 15/54/58/46/2

Touched off by Spieth in last year's epic for another near-miss in a major. Birkdale was easily his best Open yet and penal Carnoustie should similarly reward his accurate, economical style. However, he's not setting the PGA Tour alight this year and missed last week's cut in Scotland.

Tony Finau

Exchange odds 130.0129/1
Last five Opens: -/-/-/18/27

Big-hitting emerging star on the PGA Tour who has taken quickly to major championships. Top-ten on his Masters debut in April and followed up with fifth at the US Open. Fared pretty well for a links novice on his first two Open attempts too. Lively outsider.

Zach Johnson

Exchange odds 130.0129/1
Last five Opens:6/47/1/12/14

One of the most reliable Open performers among the American contingent. Won his second major title at St Andrews and has only missed the top-16 once in the last six renewals. Arrives in decent form after three consecutive top-20s and closed with 64 in his usual John Deere Classic warm-up.

Rafa Cabrera Bello

Exchange odds 130.0129/1
Last five Opens: 21/MC/40/39/4

Several good performances on the biggest stages in recent years, including fourth at Birkdale last year, having just won on a links at the Scottish Open. No such positive form signal this time though after a trio of missed cuts. Poor conversion ratio and one to lay when in contention.


Hao-Tong Li

Exchange odds 140.0139/1
Last five Opens: -/-/-/-/3

Top-notch Chinese prospect who finished like a train for third place at Birkdale last year. Confirmed that was no fluke by setting a new scoring record at the Dubai Desert Classic, seeing off McIlroy in a virtual dual. No top-tens anywhere since, though.

Thorbjorn Olesen

Exchange odds 140.0139/1
Last five Opens: MC/64/-/MC/62

Five-time winner on the European Tour, which belies an inconsistent record and speaks volumes about his temperament in contention. Has struggled in the Open since 2012 but boasts plenty of links form elsewhere and certainly has the wind game. In-form after a trio of top-six finishes in Rolex Series events, winning the Italian Open.

Matthew Southgate

Exchange odds 140.0139/1
Last five Opens: -/MC/-/12/6

Subject of a significant gamble after punters learned he is a Carnoustie member. Evidently enjoys the links challenge, finishing top-12 in the last two Opens and runner-up at the 2017 Irish Open. Some good recent form when fifth at the Open de France but yet to win as a professional.

Lee Westwood

Exchange odds 170.0169/1
Last five Opens: 3/MC/49/22/27

Appears to have missed his chance to win a major, having failed to convert any of nine top-three finishes, thrice in the Open. Retains his ability and is competitive on occasion, though, and veterans with a stack of links experience in the bag often thrive in this major.

Lee Westwood 1280.jpg

Ryan Fox

Exchange odds 170.0169/1
Last five Opens: -/-/49/-/MC

Big-hitter who has taken longer than expected to make his mark in Europe. Knocking on the door over the past fortnight, finishing second and sixth in the Irish and Scottish Opens. Also fourth in the same two events last year so is evidently well equipped for links golf.

Adam Scott

Exchange odds 170.0169/1
Last five Opens: 3/5/10/43/22

Former Masters champion who was a mainstay in Open contention between 2012 and 2015, blowing a late four-shot lead at Lytham to let in Ernie Els. Hasn't added to his 29 professional wins for over two years, though, with putting becoming a perennial weakness.

Webb Simpson

Exchange odds 170.0169/1
Last five Opens: 64/MC/40/39/37

Former US Open champion who broke a five-year winless streak with a runaway victory at the so-called 'Fifth Major' at Sawgrass in May. The Open is the only tournament he ever plays in Europe and the lack of links experience is evident from a poor record.

Danny Willett

Exchange odds 200.0199/1
Last 5 Opens: 15/MC/6/53/76

Looked set to become a regular contender at the highest level when winning the 2016 Masters, only to completely lose form over the past 18 months. A trio of top-20s including both links events over the past fortnight, at least offer some encouragement and has played well in past Opens, contending at St Andrews in 2015.

Paul Dunne

Exchange odds 210.0209/1
Last five Opens: -/MC/30/MC/-

Stole the Open headlines as an amateur when co-leading through 54 holes in 2015 and making swift progress in the professional ranks. Won the British Masters last term and has excelled on both sides of the Atlantic, but failed to contend in any of the recent Rolex Series events. Formidable on and around the greens.

Paul Dunne 1280.jpg

Xander Schaufelle

Exchange odds 210.0209/1
Last five Opens: -/-/-/-/20

Extremely promising American who has made rapid progress in just three years as a professional. Won twice in his rookie PGA Tour campaign, including the lucrative FedEx Cup finale, and has finished top-six in the last two US Opens. Twentieth at Birkdale was a perfectly respectable Open debut.

Shane Lowry

Exchange odds 210.0209/1
Last five Opens: 32/9/MC/MC/MC

World-class at his best as evidenced by a WGC-Bridgestone title and trading short odds-on when runner-up at the 2016 US Open. Surprisingly given bad weather prowess and Dunhill Links form, has never impacted an Open. Out of form too with no top-ten finishes this year.

Patrick Cantlay

Exchange odds 240.0239/1
Last five Opens: -/-/-/-/-

Carried a huge reputation when turning pro back in 2012 but early stages of career on tour were stunted by injury. Broke his PGA Tour duck in November and has maintained that progress with consistent finishes since. Up against it on his Open debut but keep an eye out for the future.

Patrick Cantlay iron.jpg

Chris Wood

Exchange odds 250.0249/1
Last five Opens: 64/23/MC/WD/14

Only three wins on the European Tour but very much a links and wind specialist, illustrated by good Dunhill Links and Qatar Masters records. Four top-25s from seven Open attempts, including fifth as low amateur in 2008 and third a year later. Second in the recent Open de France but missed the cut in Scotland.

Andy Sullivan

Exchange odds 260.0259/1
Last five Opens: -/-/30/12/70

Missed his first cut since October at Gullane over the weekend to end a consistent run of high finishes without winning. Long, straight driving has been the key and this ex-Ryder Cupper has bags of form around links or wind-exposed courses in several countries. Precisely the type to back for finishing position targets.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat

Exchange odds 260.0259/1
Last five Opens: MC/MC/MC/MC/-

Prolific winner on Asian Tours and fast becoming a global player. His first meaningful US campaign has yielded big cheques in two WGC events and 15th place around a tough US Open course. Much less convincing on links courses though, never bettering 72 in eight rounds at the Open.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat 1280.jpg

Alexander Bjork

Exchange odds 320.0319/1
Last five Opens: -/-/-/-/MC

Rapidly emerging in only his second season on the European Tour. Contended several times before winning the China Open and has maintained top form with top-20s in the last three Rolex Series events. Already a world-class scrambler.

Padraig Harrington

Exchange odds 390.0389/1
Last five Opens: 54/MC/20/36/MC

Back-to-back Open champion in 2007 and 2008, including at this venue, but hasn't bettered 20th since. Poor form throughout 2018 and that includes links courses over the past fortnight. Long game has become perennially erratic, spelling big trouble at Carnoustie.

Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open account using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn We'll Refund You £/€20 If the Bet Loses

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles