2023 Open Championship Picks: Ranking the Top-30 Players, Including Rory McIlroy & Viktor Hovland
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Rory McIlroy
Before we dig into my top-30 rankings for this week’s 151st Open Championship, a warning: I’m writing this column with chalk.
Yup, putting it right up there on the big ol’ blackboard from third grade. And again on the sidewalk in front of my house, I'm circling all of your long-shot plays with a chalk outline.
Jokes aside, the major that seems most likely to elicit lottery-ticket winners has transcended from the days of Ben Curtis and Todd Hamilton.
Over the past decade, no player with pre-tournament odds longer than 80/1 has won the Claret Jug, and six of those winners have been 25/1 or shorter.
2013: Phil Mickelson +1500
2014: Rory McIlroy +1200
2015: Zach Johnson +8000
2016: Henrik Stenson +2500
2017: Jordan Spieth +1200
2018: Francesco Molinari +2500
2019: Shane Lowry +8000
2020: No tournament
2021: Collin Morikawa +3000
2022: Cameron Smith +2000
(according to golfodds.com)
With that trend in mind, you won’t find too many dark-horse selections near the top of this week’s ranking. That's bad for big-number bettors, maybe, but good for those who want to see the best of the best slug it out on Sunday at Royal Liverpool.
Let’s get right to it, starting with a guy who seems due for his first major title.
1. Viktor Hovland (+2200)
Hovland is a world-class ball-striker, and his usual disadvantage around the greens (which is admittedly improving) should be neutralized a bit this week.
2. Rory McIlroy (+800)
Brimming with confidence and riding a wave of momentum after his Scottish Open victory, this is his last chance for a major before he gets to a full decade without one.
3. Scottie Scheffler (+700)
The tee-to-green numbers have been so astounding this year that it might take just a field-average putting week for the world’s top-ranked player to win by multiple shots.
4. Tyrrell Hatton (+2500)
On a links course and with top-10s in four of his last seven starts, the Englishman should be primed for yet another title contention.
5. Jon Rahm (+1000)
Rahm hasn’t played a competitive round since an MC at the Travelers Championship three weeks ago, but the Masters champ circled this tournament on his calendar a while ago.
6. Rickie Fowler (+2500)
Fowler tied for runner-up honors the last time this event was held at Royal Liverpool and just might be playing the best golf of his life right now.
7. Tommy Fleetwood (+2500)
Last year’s Scottish Open: T-4. Last year’s Open Championship: T-4. Last week’s Scottish Open: T-6. Don’t expect him to veer too far from that trend.
8. Brooks Koepka (+1800)
Placing Koepka’s name anywhere other than first in pre-major rankings is a dangerous game, as he’s won five of the last 23 he’s played in.
9. Cameron Smith (+2000)
Since 1960, five players have won back-to-back titles at The Open, which is more during that time period than at any other major championship.
10. Padraig Harrington (+20000)
If the first nine selections here were ultra-chalky, then let’s get a little weird with the 10th, as this two-champ has shown he still has plenty of game at the age of 51.
11. Adam Scott (+6000)
The coulda/woulda/shoulda from 2012 still burns, but it shouldn’t go unnoticed that he’s been trending in the right direction and thrives on links courses.
12. Ryan Fox (+11000)
Now a PGA Tour member for the first time, this Kiwi’s baseline receives a significant bump on this type of track, as evidenced by his T-12 finish at the Scottish Open last week.
13. Xander Schauffele (+2200)
Known for playing his best golf in major championships, it should be noted that his last three Open Championship results max out at “only” a T-15 finish.
14. Robert Macintyre (+8000)
Outright ticket holders from last week’s Scottish Open are still licking their wounds, but even a runner-up finish should give Bobby Mac good vibes entering this one.
15. Shane Lowry (+4000)
The 2019 champion is intent on adding another to his resume, though the Irishman recently revealed that — surprise, surprise — he actually hates playing in rainy conditions.
16. Jordan Spieth (+3000)
On courses which require creativity, Spieth often thrives, proven by his impeccable record at this event, which includes five consecutive top-20 finishes.
17. Justin Rose (+5500)
Though he’s often struggled to best that T-4 result as a 17-year-old amateur in 1998, the Englishman does own nine top-25s in 19 career starts at this event.
18. Collin Morikawa (+3500)
Two years ago, in his first taste of links golf, he finished T-71 at the Scottish Open. One week later, he figured it out, winning at Royal St. George’s.
19. Min Woo Lee (+7000)
The soon-to-be 25-year-old is quickly proving to be a big-game hunter, placing T-6 at this year’s Players Championship, T-18 at the PGA and T-5 at the U.S. Open.
20. Patrick Cantlay (+2000)
Love this stat from Justin Ray: Cantlay has finished top-15 in each of the last five majors, but he’s never been closer than five strokes entering the final round.
21. Jordan Smith (+20000)
If you’re a casual fan — or even a bit more than casual — Smith might rank amongst the best players you’ve never heard of, with top-25s in nine of his last 15 starts.
22. Dustin Johnson (+3000)
Often considered just a big hitter, DJ owns five top-10s in 13 career Open Championship starts, showing that his game can fit this style of play.
23. Max Homa (+6000)
There’s no ignoring the elephant in this room: in 16 career major starts, the six-time PGA Tour winner still has just one finish better than 40th place.
24. Louis Oosthuizen (+11000)
Injuries might make him an old 40, but it feels like he’s been written off, despite being younger than Scott or Rose and just a year older than DJ.
25. Corey Conners (+6000)
One of the best pure ball-strikers in the world, the Canadian has become understandably proficient in majors, posting top-20s in six of his last 14 starts.
26. Tony Finau (+5500)
One of the world’s most talented players, he doesn’t own a top-20 finish in a half-dozen starts since winning the Mexico Open three months ago.
27. Adrian Meronk (+18000)
Already the best player to ever come out of Poland, his wiry 6-foot-6 frame makes him look like he should be on the wing draining 3-pointers for your favorite NBA team.
28. Gary Woodland (+15000)
The more it rains in Liverpool, the less effective his patented stinger could be off the tee, though he still owns plenty of length to get it around in wet conditions.
29. Hideki Matsuyama (+6000)
Matsuyama finished in a share of sixth place in his tourney debut a decade ago, but since then, he hasn’t fared better than T-14 in seven starts.
30. Matthew Jordan (+30000)
A member of Royal Liverpool since he was seven, the 27-year-old was given the honor this week of hitting the first tee shot of the tournament Thursday morning.