For Jordan Spieth, 2015 was a defining year. At 22, he became the second youngest player since Tiger Woods to win the Masters and the second youngest player since Bobby Jones, in 1923, to win the U.S. Open. His status among the game's greats was reinforced with his momentous victory at The Open in 2017. At Royal Birkdale, the American finished the final round birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie-par for a score of 69 and a 12-under-par total of 268 to win by three strokes.
It was at Carnoustie 50 years ago that Gary Player hit perhaps the greatest shot of his career to win his second Open. On the final day at the par-5 14th – named the Spectacles for a pair of bunkers that pinch into each side of the fairway some 64 metres (70 yards) from the green – the South African struck a mighty
3-wood that never wavered into a gale-force wind, finishing less than a metre (two feet) from the hole. He putted for an eagle that helped clinch a two-shot victory.
Tiger Woods has been the pre-eminent golfer of his generation, transforming the modern game and inspiring millions of golfers worldwide since winning the Masters in 1997 at the first Major of his professional career. His haul of 14 Majors, second only to fellow American Jack Nicklaus (18), includes three Open titles, the first of which he won in 2000 by eight strokes for a record 19 under par at St Andrews. His return to form suggests he, too, will be among the leaders at Carnoustie this year for what would be his 20th performance at The Open.
Haotong Li had an Open debut to remember at Royal Birkdale, in 2017, finishing third behind winner Jordan Spieth after a stunning final-round 63 that featured seven birdies in the last 11 holes. He was one shot shy of equalling the record for the lowest single-round total in a Major. His performance was easily the best ever by a Chinese player and came just a month after the rising star had made his first performance in a Major at the U.S. Open 2017.
Justin Thomas is another member of the Rolex New Guard in contention for the famous Claret Jug in 2018. The American was named 2017 PGA TOUR Player of the Year after winning five events, including his first Major, the PGA Championship, and the FedEx Cup. He also made history in the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills, Wisconsin, carding the lowest score in relation to par in tournament history with a nine-under 63 in the third round.
After an outstanding amateur career, Jon Rahm has made a big impact since turning professional in 2016. The young Spaniard has two PGA TOUR® titles to his credit and three other international victories. In January this year he reached a career-high world ranking of No. 2, making him a top contender for The 147th Open 2018.
Phil Mickelson’s Open victory at Muirfield in 2013 marked the pinnacle of an already brilliant golfing career. “It’s a special moment to be part of the great history of this Championship, and a tremendous accomplishment for me and my career to win the event that has been my biggest challenge,” the American said after his victory. The most successful left-handed golfer of all time, Mickelson has ﬁve Majors to his name and a peerless short game that is sure to put him in contention for honours this year at Carnoustie.
Tom Watson is one of the most successful Champion Golfers still playing, having won the Championship five times in a span of only nine years – an unrivalled feat. With eight Majors and 39 victories on the PGA TOUR®, the six-time PGA TOUR® Player of the Year and World No. 1 from 1978 to 1982 has earned his place in golf legend. The American is one of golf’s most enduring professionals, winning the 2011 Senior PGA Championship at the age of 61, becoming the oldest Major winner on the Senior Tour since its inception in 1980.