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USA Today Sports Media Group
Riley Hamel

Staff picks for the 2023 British Open at Royal Liverpool

For the first time in nine years, all eyes are on Royal Liverpool for the 2023 Open Championship.

The last time we were in Hoylake, Rory McIlroy became the 2014 Champion Golfer of the Year after outlasting Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia. McIlroy, who finished third at St. Andrews last year, is coming off a stellar win at the Genesis Scottish Open, battling tough conditions down the stretch and birdieing the final two holes.

Cam Smith enters the week as the reigning champion thanks to his come-from-behind victory over McIlroy at the Old Course.

Before the action gets underway Thursday morning, here are Golfweek‘s picks to win and a few sleepers to keep an eye on.

Open Championship 2023: Leaderboard, scores, news, tee times, more

Adam Schupak

Collin Morikawa smiles on the 15th hole during a practice round of The Open Championship golf tournament at Royal Liverpool. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Favorite: Collin Morikawa

He was poised to make a Sunday run at the Memorial when he had to WD. He proved he’s healthy and in good form at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He has rediscovered his trusty fade, and his short game has never looked better. Major No. 3, here we come.

Sleeper: Talor Gooch

After feeling he was cheated out of a spot in the U.S. Open, Gooch has got a lot to prove. While he concedes he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, the former Okie State pro who has cleaned up on LIV can flat out golf his ball.

Cameron Jourdan

Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the fourth hole during a practice round of The Open Championship golf tournament at Royal Liverpool. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Favorite: Rory McIlroy

It almost seems too easy to pick McIlroy. His worst finish in his past six starts is T-9, and he’s coming off a thrilling victory last week in Scotland. Can he become the first since Phil to pull off the European double? It seems as if everything for McIlroy has been building to this moment, the place he won his third major title nine years ago.

Sleeper: Talor Gooch

If you follow LIV Golf, then you’ll know Gooch won three times in five starts this season. He’s the only three-time winner on the circuit, and he’s also playing some of the best golf of any American right now. He could possibly earn a spot on the Ryder Cup team, but first, he’s looking to earn his biggest victory to date.

Adam Woodard

Cameron Smith on the seventeenth green on preview day of The Open at the Royal Liverpool, Wirral. Picture date: Sunday July 16, 2023. 73020995 (Press Association via AP Images)

Favorite: Cameron Smith

We haven’t seen a successful title defense at the Open since Padraig Harrington went back-to-back in 2007 and 2008 at Carnoustie and Royal Birkdale, but that changes this year.

LIV players have been in contention at all four majors and Smith has finishes of fourth at the U.S. Open and T-9 at the PGA Championship already this year. If the putter is rolling, Smith will raise the Claret Jug again.

Sleeper: Robert MacIntyre

Rory McIlroy had to hit one of the best shots of his career to steal the Genesis Scottish Open last week, but this week MacIntyre gets his revenge. He has two top 10s in his three Open starts, and with all the attention on McIlroy this week, it’s only fitting that MacIntyre steals this one.

Riley Hamel

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the 16th hole prior to The 151st Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club on July 18, 2023 in Hoylake, England. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Favorite: Rory McIlroy

Six straight top-10 finishes. A dramatic win in his last start at the Genesis Scottish Open in tough conditions. Returning to the site of his 2014 Open win.

There’s not much else to say. It’s time to get No. 5.

Sleeper: Brian Harman

Harman has had his A-game over the last month. He tied for second at the Travelers Championship, for ninth at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and for 12th at the Genesis Scottish Open. After struggling with this championship for most of his career, Harman tied for 19th in 2021 and for sixth at the Old Course last year.

Todd Kelly

Xander Schauffele of the United States walks off the 18th tee during the Pro-Am prior to the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club on July 12, 2023 in United Kingdom. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Favorite: Xander Schauffele

Schauffele is 18-for-18 in cuts made this season with nine top-10s and a solo second at the Wells Fargo Championship. In fact, X has 29 consecutive cuts made, the longest active streak on the PGA Tour. His major finishes this year are all top-20s: Masters (T-10), PGA Championship (T-18), U.S. Open (T-10). He closed with a 74 last week at the Genesis Scottish Open but went 66-67 during the second and third rounds. He leads the Tour in approaches from 150-175 yards and here’s another good stat: he’s third on Tour in putts of 25 feet or more. That could be huge on the greens at Royal Liverpool this week. Clearly torn here between X and Tyrrell Hatton, whose odds to win have improved in the last several days. Since missing the cut at the Valero Texas Open the first weekend of April, Hatton has played nine times, made nine cuts, posted seven top-20s and four top-6 finishes, including a tie for sixth at last week’s Genesis Scottish Open, where he shot a 62 in Friday’s second round.

Sleeper: After further review, Denny McCarthy seems like a solid sleeper pick. He’s 85/1 to win and comes into the week ranked 33rd in the Official World Golf Ranking but he’s 22nd in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, Since missing the cut at the Charles Schwab, he lost in a playoff at the Memorial, tied for 20th at the U.S. Open, then went T-7 at the Travelers and T-6 at the John Deere. Still seeking his first PGA Tour win, McCarthy might be a solid pick in your pool this week.

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