Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland and extra - the explanation why each and every can and may't win on Sunday on the Open - ESPN

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- The 150th version of The Open may very smartly become going down as one of the top-quality ones in its storied historical past, reckoning on what occurs on the historic course at St. Andrews on Sunday.

Seven of the excellent 12 players in the reliable World rating are within 8 shots of the co-leaders, Viktor Hovland and Rory McIlroy, who are sixteen under and have a 4-shot advantage going into the final 18 holes.

There are a whole lot of storylines: McIlroy will attempt to conclusion an eight-yr drought with out an important. Hovland, Cameron younger, Cameron Smith, Si Woo Kim and Tommy Fleetwood can be chasing their first main victories. Scottie Scheffler, who's 5 pictures returned, will try and put a bow on some of the most appropriate seasons in golf historical past. U.S. Open winner Matt Fitzpatrick will are attempting to win a 2d straight main.

Are we headed for a shootout between Hovland and McIlroy within the ultimate round, or will the historical course eventually demonstrate its tooth and allow others lower back into the mix?

"I don't know," Hovland spoke of. "there's a lot of things that may occur. In these circumstances and these pin placements, you can play first-rate and shoot around even par, after which that brings in lots of different guys as smartly. So it simply depends what the situations are going to be like [Sunday], the pin places, and simply frankly how we play."

Who's going to win the Claret Jug on Sunday? here's why the right contenders will win and why they might not:

Why he can win: Hovland, who discovered to play golf in an indoor facility in Norway, is without doubt one of the most proficient young players on the planet. The 24-12 months-historic has already gained twice on the ecu Tour and three times on the PGA Tour, including the everywhere know-how Championship at Mayakoba in November. he's the first Norwegian participant to dangle a lead or co-lead after a round at a major.


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    "I do not feel there may be another area that would excellent it," Hovland noted. "turning out to be up in Norway, I at all times watched the Open Championship for manner longer than I ever did, for instance, the Masters. Yeah, to win an incredible that is closest to domestic, that could be definitely cool."

    Hovland drives the ball extremely well and is a great ball striker. He got here into the week ranked tenth on tour in pictures won: method the eco-friendly. He hit forty four of 54 greens during the first three rounds at the historic course. Hovland also is becoming a much better putter; he made putts of 38 toes, 42 feet and 19 ft all over a streak of four straight birdies on Saturday.

    Why he can not win: As gifted as Hovland is, he hasn't been outstanding in the majors, albeit in constrained alternatives. He does not have a excellent-10 finish in his previous eight foremost begins as a pro. His ultimate conclude in a major is a tie for 12th, which he did as the low newbie at the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble seashore and in final yr's Open at Royal St. George's.

    as good as Hovland's putter has been these days, will it hang up under drive? And what in regards to the relaxation of his short online game? His chipping has been atrocious all over the early a part of his career. He got here into the week ranked 204th in shots received around the eco-friendly. Will it chew him all the way through the remaining round?

    Viktor Hovland and Rory McIlroy are on my own out front on the Open. ROBERT PERRY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

    Why he can win: outdoor of Scheffler, McIlroy can be the most efficient player on this planet this season. He has received twice on tour and comprehensive in the appropriate 10 of each and every of the first three majors for the primary time in his career, together with a solo 2nd on the Masters. He drives the ball as well as any person and is placing the ball at a global-type stage.

    despite the fact that McIlroy hasn't won a major in well-nigh eight full seasons, he has been specially good on the weekends of majors. sure, a few of his success got here when he turned into out of competition and lower back-doored his way into exact-5 finishes. still, in keeping with ESPN Stats & assistance research, McIlroy is 33 beneath within the last round of majors, ultimate by using any golfer in the Masters period. he'll have many of the gallery at the back of him on Sunday, and it looks like it be finally McIlroy's time once more.

    Why he cannot win: How many times have we been right here earlier than? There have been 30 majors performed considering the fact that McIlroy gained his latest one, the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla. Twenty-two golfers have received majors all over that span, however now not McIlroy. Can he at last steer clear of the failures that have derailed his options during the past?

    Why he can win: The PGA Tour rookie has gave the look of he belonged in view that his second delivery of the season, when he tied for second at the Sanderson Farms Championship. considering then, young tied for 2d at the Genesis Invitational and tied for third on the PGA Championship. He already has 5 correct-10s in his first 20 starts. certainly, the new york product is never fearful of the huge stage.

    young, who played at Wake forest, is likely one of the longest hitters off the tee on tour. He averaged a whopping 369.6 yards per pressure on Saturday. His iron play has additionally been more desirable this week, too. He led The Open box in shots received: tee to green with the aid of more than a stroke in each of the first two rounds.

    Why he can't win: young is playing in his first Open -- on the "domestic of golf" no much less. Can there be any further power than that? it's now not that first-timers never win The Open in their debuts; Collin Morikawa did at Royal St. George's closing yr. but it surely has came about best 10 times in a hundred and fifty years, and younger is a rookie.

    Cameron Smith does not lack self assurance, as evidenced via his wardrobe alternative on Saturday at the Open. Michael Madrid-us of a nowadays activities

    Why he can win: Smith loves birdie fests (his 34-below complete at the Sentry match of Champions is proof) and no person on tour has been stronger at changing birdie options than him this season. He has additionally performed neatly under pressure. When Smith won the players in March, he had eight one-putts in the last 9 holes to put it away.

    The Australian is among the optimal putters on this planet, and his flat stick changed into purple sizzling during the first two rounds. He made an amazing 253 feet of putts when he shot 8-below sixty four within the 2d circular. in spite of the fact that Smith ignored more than a few alternatives within the third circular, he might not be missing in self belief on Sunday. it's obtrusive he does not fear a whole lot, in view that his shirt choice on Saturday.

    Why he won't win: pretty much as good as Smith's putter became over the first 36 holes, it wasn't very professional in any respect on Saturday. After wanting most effective 28 putts in every of the first two rounds, he necessary 35 in the third. Smith overlooked a 5-footer on the very first hole and made a bogey. He certainly not acquired anything going from there.

    similar to his tee shot on the 12th gap in the final round of the Masters, which splashed into Rae's Creek and resulted in a triple bogey, you need to ask yourself if Smith's double bogey on No. 13 on Saturday may have can charge him yet another chance at his first foremost victory.

    Why he can win: In its a hundred and fifty-yr history, The Open has produced some fairly surprising champions, including Ian Baker-Finch (1991), Paul Lawrie (1999), Ben Curtis (2003) and Todd Hamilton (2004). Kim would actually healthy the bill, given his recent form and historical past in majors.

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    supply the South Korean participant credit, notwithstanding. he's imaginitive and has some guts. On Saturday, he hit a fabulous flop shot from on the eco-friendly on the street gap and saved par. he is a three-time winner on tour, so it's no longer like he has by no means received before.

    Why he cannot win: or not it's doubtless asking too a good deal of Kim to position collectively a round that might take down the optimum avid gamers on the planet.

    Kim picked up his third PGA Tour victory on the American categorical in January 2021, but he hasn't performed an awful lot this season. He has one true-10 finish in 24 starts, at the Sanderson Farms Championship in October, and had ignored the cut in each and every of his previous three starts. He has certainly not had a good-10 in 22 predominant begins and had missed more cuts (eleven) than he had made (10).

    Why he can win: Scheffler is the No. 1-ranked player on the planet and has gained greater than anybody else this season. He had by no means gained on tour coming into 2021, but then he picked up 4 victories in six begins this spring, together with the Masters. He tied for 2nd in the U.S. Open.

    Scheffler is even-keeled and seems unfazed by pressure. If he wins the Claret Jug, he'll be the creator of 1 of the ideal seasons in golf background. most effective four other gamers have won five times in a single season, including the Masters and The Open: Ben Hogan in 1953, Arnold Palmer in 1962, Tom Watson in 1977 and Tiger Woods in 2005. it's some elite company, and that is the reason how respectable Scheffler has been over the last five months.

    Why he won't win: Is Scheffler too a long way returned? The greatest Open fifty four-hole comeback got here in 1999, when Lawrie rallied from a ten-shot deficit. sadly for Scheffler, Jean van de Velde is rarely ahead of him on the scoreboard. Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els came lower back from 6 photographs returned in 2007 and 2012, respectively.

    "Guys are fairly decent at golf," Scheffler referred to. "there is loads of skill out here and that i'm hanging in there. backyard of a number of putts getting in [Saturday], I might have been plenty closer to the lead, however that's how it goes. I hit loads of first rate putts accessible. they are simply dodging the cup. however looks like i may probably be about 6 photographs back going into [Sunday]. never know what can turn up."

    Why he can win: DJ is one of the most excellent avid gamers on the earth and has gained 24 times on tour, together with two majors. How a whole lot ability does he have? On Sunday, Johnson skulled his tee shot on No. 18, probably the most famous holes in golf, but nonetheless in some way made birdie. He bought as low as 12 below after 12 holes within the third circular but made too many error down the stretch. nevertheless, he has the ability to come back lower back if the leaders falter on Sunday.

    Why he may not win: There are 72 holes within the Open.

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