Justin Thomas ready to go from friends to foes with Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler at The Open

Phil Casey 17/07/2018
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Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler will all vie for The Open title.

Justin Thomas insists friendships will be put firmly to one side if the 147th Open Championship comes down to a battle with his close friends Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler.

Spieth is the defending champion at Carnoustie and Thomas the reigning US PGA champion, while Fowler is seeking a first major title after several near misses, including a runners-up finish to Patrick Reed in April’s Masters.

The trio are such good friends that they go on holiday together and Fowler, who finished fifth, was among the first to congratulate Thomas when he lifted the Wanamaker Trophy at Quail Hollow last August.

“It is a very unique group of us, I guess you could say,” Thomas said. “Obviously we want to beat each other’s brains in. I never want to lose to any of my friends, especially my best friends.

“As weird as it is, sometimes it’s harder losing to your closest friends than it is someone you don’t even know, whether it’s bragging rights or whatever it is, but it is a weird feeling.

“Then again, like last year when I didn’t play well [in the Open] and missed the cut, I was pulling for Jordan to win. You want to see one of your friends win if you can’t.”

Thomas finished 53rd on his Open debut in 2016 and missed the cut at Royal Birkdale last year, but believes that is not a fair reflection of his abilities.

“Two years ago I was on the bad side of the draw but then last year I just had two terrible holes that caused me to miss the cut,” the 25-year-old world number two added.

“I feel like I’m a good links player although I don’t have the results to show it. I played well at Chambers Bay in the US Amateur which is a links-style course and I truly enjoy the creativity required.

“The Open is a very special event I hope to get at least once or twice in my career. It would mean a lot. I can’t necessarily put it into words, it’s one of those things you can’t describe unless it happens.

“I’ve always felt this would be one of my favourite wins as a player because it takes such a wide variety of shots and such a complete game to win here.”

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Justin Rose optimistic about first English win since 1992 at The Open Championship

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Justin Rose would love nothing more than to become the first Englishman in 26 years to win the Open but he believes a number of home hopefuls could challenge America’s recent dominance of majors.

Starting with Brooks Koepka’s 2017 US Open victory the last five of golf’s premier events have been won by 20-somethings from the United States

In contrast, an Englishman has not lifted the Claret Jug since Nick Faldo in 1992, although there have been European triumphs courtesy of Ireland twice (Padraig Harrington both times), Northern Ireland twice (Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy) and Sweden (Henrik Stenson) in the last 11 years.

“I don’t know what I’d put it down to other than the American boys in the world rankings and on the golf course are performing really well,” said Rose ahead of the 147th Championship at Carnoustie.

“The top end of American golf right now is incredibly strong. I think Tommy (Fleetwood, who finished second at last month’s US Open) showed how close the Europeans are to challenging that dominance.

“So it’s not like we’re a mile behind. It’s just they’re on a great run right now, and there’s no reason why a European player shouldn’t come through this week.

“Obviously, Tommy’s got a brilliant chance. Paul Casey’s got a great chance. He’s been knocking on the door many times now too. Paul is dangerous on links golf courses.

“Darren Clarke won one out of the blue years ago. Maybe it’s sort of a Westy (Lee Westwood) time as well.

Rory clearly is probably even more dangerous at the minute because he’s been a little quiet.

“I find that Rory is always quiet for a while and then he’ll kind of kick back into gear.”

Rose made his major breakthrough at the 2013 US Open but performances at his home major has been much less impressive.

The 37-year-old has had just one top-10 finish – at St Andrews three years ago – in 15 attempts since finishing fourth as an amateur at Royal Birkdale in 1998.

But that does not deter him and when asked whether he could win this week the 2013 US Open champion gave a confident “Yes”.

“I don’t mind expectation. I feel like you’ve got to be a big boy, and you’ve got to be able to handle that,” added the Englishman, who will celebrate 20 years as a professional on Friday.

“If you want to play at the top level, that’s what you’ve got to live with. I’ve got no problem with that.

“Yeah, I want to win the Open, no doubt about it. Obviously, I’m kind of comfortable with how bad my record’s been here.

“It’s nothing new to me and I don’t feel like there’s a reason for it either. I feel like I’ve created some better opportunities in the Open than my record suggests.

“I think definitely the consistency that I’m playing at now is by far the best I’ve ever had in my career.

“I couldn’t think of a better time to turn it around and to sort of bring everything full circle, if you like.

“I’d take it any year but 20 years has a nice ring to it, if I want to be superstitious.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Henrik Stenson record win in 2016 and other great moments from the Open Championship

David Cooper 17/07/2018
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Jordan Spieth will be bidding to defend his Open title on Thursday as the third major championship of the year gets underway at Carnoustie in Scotland.

Here, we take a look at five of the best moments from the Open.

Nick Faldo wins second Open title – 1990

The Englishman clinched his second Claret Jug with a scintillating 18-under par. Producing rounds of 67, 65, 67 and 71 meant Faldo finished five shots clear of second place Greg Norman. His win at St. Andrew’s made him the second person since Tom Watson in 1982 to win two majors in the same year.

Jean van de Velde’s improbable collapse – 1999

Van de Velde was on the brink of becoming the first Frenchman to win the Open Championship in 92 years. With a three shot lead, all he had to do was double-bogey the 18th. But he blew it and ended up in a three-way play-off. He would go on to lose to Paul Lawrie.

Tiger Woods completes career grand slam – 2000

When Woods lifted The Open title in 2000 he became the youngest player to seal a career grand slam at the age of 24. He avoided all the treacherous bunkers at St. Andrew’s, to shoot 19-under par, winning by a mammoth eight shots. The American returns to Carnoustie this week seeking a first major since 2008.

Padraig Harrington’s superb comeback – 2007

Harrington started the final round six shots behind leader Sergio Garcia, who faltered as the Irishman posted a sizzling 67. In the end, Harrington won by a stroke in the play-off to claim his first major. One year later at Royal Birkdale, the 46-year-old successfully defended his Open crown.

Stenson shoots record 20-under par – 2013

One of the greatest performances in history. The Swede shot a 20-under par 264, the lowest 72-hole score ever in a major, to become the first Scandinavian to win a men’s golf major. His final shot was a stunning 20-foot birdie putt that tumbled into the cup on its last turn.

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