Can Rory MclIroy send the home fans happy this week or will there be a party pooper?
<div><p style="text-align:center"><strong>Open Championship</strong></p><p style="text-align:center"><strong>July 18-21</strong></p><p style="text-align:center"><strong>Sky Sports</strong></p><p style="text-align:center"><strong>Royal Portrush Golf Club, Dunluce Course</strong></p><p style="text-align:center"><strong>County Antrim, Northern Ireland</strong></p><p style="text-align:center"><strong>Par 71, Yards 7344</strong></p><p>For the first time since 1951 Northern Ireland plays host to the Open Championship. In 1951 the venue was once again the Royal Portrush Golf Club and on that occasion Max Faulkner made history as the first and to this date only winner of the championship outside England or Scotland.</p><p>It may be sixty-eight years since Royal Portrush Golf Club held the Open Championship but it has since played host to the 2012 Irish Open and the Amateur Championship three times.</p><p>Famous English golf course architect Harry Colt designed the course in 1888. Some of his courses of note in the UK are St Georges Hill, Sunningdale (New Course) and Wentworth. He has re-designed three other courses on the Open rota in Muirfield, Hoylake and the Royal Liverpool. A few weeks ago the Canadian Open was held at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club which was one of his designs.</p><p>The Dunluce Links is described in glowing terms and has harsh consequences for poor golf shots. Since the 2012 Irish Open the course has been re-configured with the 17th and 18th holes replaced by Martin Ebert. The holes are moulded naturally amongst the amazing dunes of the North Antrim Causeway Coast. The way links course’s played is often reliant on the weather and If the Players get favourable warm, dry conditions it is possible the greens could become devilishly firm by the weekend.</p><p style="text-align:center"><a href="http://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=162&a=ec641d03-1e6d-4096-9f5f-d2a6939022d0&f=3" target="_blank"><img alt src="https://cmscdn.staticcache.org/assets/image/0005/1349915/Biggest-Ever-Bet-Boost-1280x480-English-UK.jpg" style="width:100%" /></a></p><h2>Betting Predictions and Tips</h2><p><strong>Contenders</strong></p><p>Home nation hero and bookmakers favourite Rory McIlroy is the perfect place to start with his prodigious talent proven here as the holder of the old course record of 61 as a seventeen year old in 2006. Eight years later in 2014 at The Royal Liverpool he won his only Open Championship. In good form this season winning the Players Championship and last months Canadian Open. Last month’s Canadian Open and his Open Championship victory have been on Harry Colt designs while the Players Championship (unofficial fifth major championship) is one of the sports toughest weeks. He is always in great demand back home in Ireland but did manage to win the 2016 Irish Open. If Rory can handle the glare and distractions this week he is a strong favourite, having the perfect credentials to add a second Open Championship.</p><p>The next player I came to was Spain’s Jon Rahm who has found a rich vein of form which started at the US Open in Pebble Beach. A third place finish in the US Open followed by a second place finish in the Andalucìa Masters at Valderrama is proof enough at two of golf’s toughest tests. The case for Jon Rahm was made a lot stronger two weeks ago when he won the Irish Open for the second time in three years. He will also be a popular winner with the fans as he often takes to Twitter to announce how much he loves the people and the country.</p><p>My feeling is America's cream of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Tiger Woods are all worthy of respect but easily overlooked as in recent weeks none have shone like earlier in the season. Open Champion in 2017 Jordan Spieth is one American I may be interested in, having found better form as his year has progressed and we know he’s a natural flair for links golf.</p><p>Former US Open champion Graeme McDowell is a member of the host club who expects the course to play short by modern standards on benign days however, he warns there is danger if you get off the beaten track. He too played well in the Canadian Open holding a 30 foot putt on the 18th to qualify for this week when it appeared time could be running out to do so. He has made many clutch putts during his illustrious career but I suspect that was very satisfying. Let’s also not forget he holds a great chance himself this year as his resurgence continues having won the Corales Puntacana Championship and a top 20 finish in the US Open added to his Canadian Open heroics.</p><p>The home nation representation does not end there with Shane Lowry and double Open Champion Padraig Harrington having a wealth of course experience the field do not. Shane Lowry also had a good Canadian Open on the Harry Colt design like his fellow countryman and is a previous Irish Open champion.</p><p>We have discussed already the chances of a hugely popular home victory but there are a multitude of party pooper’s to spoil the parade. There is one such individual suited by this weeks course and that is American Matt Kuchar. He has become golf’s “Mr Unpopular” with his tight fisted and poor etiquette but his form rather surprisingly appears better than ever.</p><p>Sweden’s Henrik Stenson has been slow to find form this season but there are signs he is improving week by week. The 2016 champion always requires respect at the Open Championship and has three top 3 finishes in the last decade. Last week’s Scottish Open should have sharpened him up perfectly for this week's test.</p><p>Australian Mark Leishman has become a regular visitor and contender for the British Open in recent years with three top 6 finishes in the last five years. He is having a consistent season on the PGA tour and long been a favourite player of mine. An understated individual but strong competitor when in contention we can expect him to win a major championship soon.</p><p><em>I will be previewing the side markets of the Open Championship in my next article for oddsmarket.com so look out for my betting predictions and tips.</em></p><p><strong>Recommended Bets</strong></p><ul> <li>Rory McIlroy - each way @ 10.00 (9/1) <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=bf7f64f4-cd67-4904-9b00-6ded1d41fd18&f=1" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Top Rated Bookmaker">Bet365</a></li> <li>Jon Rahm - each way @ 17.00 (16/1) Bet365</li> <li>Mark Leishman - each way @ 67.00 (66/1) <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=1ba923f3-5341-4bda-b457-0138ac61ae7a&f=1" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Get in the game with Betfred!">Betfred</a></li> <li>Henrik Stenson - each way @ 28/1 (29.00) <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=df66db4b-b019-4343-9fc7-6c4f20e2a356&f=1" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Place your bets at Paddy Power">Paddy Power</a></li></ul></div>