The 18th hole at Royal Troon


Royal Troon staged one of the most titanic tussles in Open history when it hosted the championship in 2016, but who will come out on top in 2024? Golf News editor Nick Bayly previews the season’s final major and assesses the chances of the current generation of pretenders to the crown of ‘Champion Golfer’

Since 1860, The Open Championship has been played over some of the world’s most cherished links courses and has produced some remarkable champions. From the Old Course at St Andrews to Royal St George’s in Kent, golf’s oldest major creates champions whose names will be forever remembered.

Royal Troon is expecting record crowds

This year sees the championship return to the Old Course at Royal Troon for the tenth time since 1923.

The famous Ayrshire venue, which hosts the final major of the year from July 16-19, has a habit of producing American winners – six of the last seven have all hailed from across the Atlantic – with the most recent, Henrik Stenson, being the exception, with the Swede adding his name to an elite roll call of players able to call themselves ‘Champion Golfer’ when he prevailed in 2016 after a titanic Sunday afternoon tussle with Phil Mickelson.

First opened in 1878, Royal Troon, like many classic links layouts, is designed in a traditional out-and-back style, where the coastal wind can be your friend and as much as your enemy – although more often the latter.

The club’s motto is ‘Tam Arte Quam Marte’ a Latin phrase that translates ‘as much by skill as by strength’, which is a fitting description of how the course needs to be played.

Brian Harman will be defending his Open title at Royal Troon this month

Brian Harman was an unconsidered 150-1 shot when he popped up from virtually nowhere to stroll to victory in the rain at Hoylake last year, reminding us that the Open is no respecter of pedigree, form or world ranking, rewarding only those who can maintain complete control of their golf ball over four rounds in all weather conditions around links courses that have the habit of throwing up the odd bad bounce.

While mental toughness, knowing when to attack and when to defend, and a deft touch on the greens are all essential weapons in any wannabe Open champion’s armoury, you also often need the luck of the draw – quite literally – in being out on the course when conditions are most conducive to good scoring.

Countless fancied contenders’ hopes of victory over the years have been lost in a summer squall or a heavy downpour that sends scores flying north and chances of winning very much south.

The Par 5 6th hole is the longest on the course at 623 yards


Royal Troon, located hard on Scotland’s west coast, needless to say, is greatly affected by the direction and strength of the wind which, when blowing in its usual north westerly direction, makes scoring on the back nine particularly difficult.

If the prevailing wind is in play, expect players to do the damage on the front nine, before turning for home and hanging for dear life in attempt to consolidate any shots they may have picked up in the first half of their round.


Besides the challenges presented by the weather, players will have to be most wary of the countless pot bunkers that are scattered all over Troon’s 7,200-yard course, many of which aren’t visible from the tee.

Finding one of these is almost a guaranteed dropped shot and with plenty of deep rough and a spattering of gorse and broom also on the course, accuracy and course management will be paramount.

Although by no means long in comparison with many championship courses, Troon doesn’t tend to favour the ‘grip it and rip it’ style anyway – as Todd Hamilton proved back in 2004 – with players requiring good course management and plenty of guile around the greens, not to mention bags patience, in order to triumph.

One of the Royal Troon’s great moments came when Little-known English professional Arthur Havers caused a huge upset when he beat American legend Walter Hagen, who was the defending champion, by a single stroke after holing a bunker shot on the final hole for a winning birdie.

English golfer Arthur Havers wins the Open Championship at Troon



While the Open is always keenly anticipated, this year’s, as with the previous two, has a little more spice with the now regular question marks hanging over those players who moved over to the LIV Golf circuit whether they still have what it takes to compete over four rounds at the highest level.

And while Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka, winners of the two most recent US Opens, have surely shown that they do, the doubters will always look to find reasons why those that have deserted the PGA Tour for even richer lands should find their skills blunted by their schedule of no-cut, 54-hole tournaments, where the only baubles to be won arrive via bank transfer the following week.



As with all majors these days over the last decade or so, Rory McIlroy finds himself high up in the betting lists for the final major of the season at 15/2, despite his decade-long drought in professional golf’s biggest events.

Rory’s fans have had their patience stretched to the very limit of late, with the 35-year-old having notched up no fewer than 19 top-10 finishes in the last 35 majors that he has competed in since 2014, including top-six finishes in the five of the last seven Opens.

Rory Mcllroy winner of the 143rd Open Championship

After last month’s frankly horrifying collapse over the final four holes at the US Open at Pinehurst, quite what he has to do to drag himself over the line only he knows.

Attempts to treat majors as just ‘regular’ events has clearly failed, and I fear for his sanity should he snatch defeat from the jaws of victory this time around.

McIlroy’s conqueror at Pinehurst, Bryson DeChambeau, is proving himself to be quite the big game performer judged on his major appearances this season, with a 9th at the Masters and runner-up finish at the PGA preceding his gutsy victory at the US Open, which, as a two-time winner, rightfully moves him up into the pantheon of golf’s elite.

With a much-improved chipping and putting game to match is length off the tee, this new version of DeChambeau is a force to be reckoned with on any golf course and can’t be ruled out of the equation despite recording just one top-10 finish in the Open in his six attempts, which also includes two missed cuts. Current odds 12/1

Bryson DeChambeau pours some Pinehurst sand into the trophy after winning his second US Open Championship in four years

And you can’t ignore the chances of the winning machine that is Scottie Scheffler. The 26-year-old American has gone from zero to ten PGA Tour wins in the space of 27 months, won his second major championship title at this year’s Masters, and is the bookies’ favourite at every event he shows up to.

The world no.1’s game can travel almost anywhere and that includes links golf, as he showed when he finished 8th at Royal St George’s in first attempt at The Open in 2021 and has enjoyed top-25 finishes in his next two.

Could he knock on the door of another major in 2024? You bet he can – although the exceptionally skinny odds of 9/2 in the golf betting reflect his strong chance.

Jon Rahm has cut a slightly frustrated figure since his shock departure to LIV Golf over the winter, and the hugely-minted Spaniard has so far failed to win on the breakaway league, while he has also been off the pace in the majors this season, mounting a lacklustre defence of his Masters title with a tied 45th at Augusta,  missing the cut by two shots at the PGA Championship, and then pulling out of the US Open at Pinehurst at the 11th hour citing an foot injury.

Jon Rahm in action the Royal Liverpool in 2023

Rahm has recorded eight top-10s in his last 18 majors, and although a distant joint second behind Brian Harman at Hoylake last year, he loves links golf and boasts three top-four finishes from his last five Open appearances, and providing he has recovered from his injury, the 29-year-old Spaniard cannot be ruled out from proceedings on a course that will suit his game and represents excellent each-way value at 22-1.

My other big fancy is Viktor Hovland, Norway’s second-best sporting export behind goal machine Erling Haaland. After winning twice on the PGA Tour in 2023, the world no.5 has been somewhat off the boil this season, including missing the cut at the Masters, but a third-place finish at the PGA Championship points to a man who is gradually finding his form.

Viktor Hovland

He got unlucky at the PGA last year, with a bad lie in a bunker derailing his chances late on in his battle against Brooks Koepka, but he’s got the game to win on any course and a relaxed temperament that borders on Zen.

With an Open record that reads 12, 4, 13 – he clearly likes links golf, and with another year on his young shoulders should have him primed to go well here at odds of 18-1.

Cam Smith, the Open champion of 2022, is being offered at generous odds on the back of plying his trade on the LIV Golf circuit.

Following a 6th place at the Masters and 33rd at the PGA, Smith, like many, was unable to land a blow at the US Open, but still seems like an each-way steal at 28-1 back on his favoured surface.

Former Open Champion Cameron Smith

A win at a LIV event last September shows that he still has the competitive fire in his belly, and the mullet-wearing Aussie will be going all out to try and join the list of just 26 players who have won the Claret Jug more than once.

Xander Schauffele (14-1), fresh off his breakthrough major win at the PGA in May, will be playing with the handbrake off at Troon, and the quietly brilliant Californian wouldn’t be winning an Open out of turn, having finished second to Francesco Molinari at Carnoustie in 2018 and bagging three other top-20 finishes since his Open debut in 2017.

Xander Schauffele holds the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the US PGA Championship at Valhalla in May

Ultra-consistent, and with no obvious flaws in his game, Schauffele has a more than decent chance of becoming the first player to win two majors in a season since Brooks Koepka all the way back in…. 2018.

All the latest odds are provided by Betway