Paul McGinley: Why Jon Rahm can claim maiden major at The Open
Last Updated: 17/07/19 7:15pm
Paul McGinley explains why Jon Rahm could be the man to beat at Royal Portrush and discusses Rory McIlroy's hopes of winning The Open.
I honestly never thought I would see an Open Championship here in my lifetime and I'm so proud it has happened. We have come so far politically over the past 20 years and to have this event is huge for the whole island of Ireland.
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It's going to be a fabulous week on a great course and we are going to do our country proud. This venue offers all kinds of different challenges and the players will love the chance to express the ability that they have.
It's a fun golf course to play, particularly for the elite player who can move the ball both ways at will, with good iron play and a lot of creativity around the greens both being really important assets.
There a lot of things indicating that Jon Rahm could have a very big week at Royal Portrush. He's had two big finishes in majors this year and then won at Lahinch recently on a similar style of golf course.
The way he played in Lahinch a couple of weeks ago was most impressive, because there were four or five guys with a chance to win and then he found another gear to pull away from the field.
That's a very difficult thing to do and will give him plenty of confidence going into this week. He has the modern game, hitting the ball a million miles and having a lovely touch around the greens, but more importantly has a huge heart.
This guy is special. He's got a destination in mind and there's no doubt that he's going to eventually get to world No 1 and is ready to win a major. It's going to happen soon and the first major could well be this week.
Rory McIlroy comes in under a lot of pressure this week. He has been the best player in the world, in my opinion, this year, as he has been the most consistent performer and his statistics have been phenomenal.
He is coming here off the back of two wins and 10 top-10s in the 14 events he has played, to play a golf course he is very familiar. That brings a lot of expectation and a lot of that will be internal, because he wants to do well so badly.
The Open is one of the toughest sporting events to win, with so many guys a factor because of the variabilities you have in links golf compared to the regular PGA Tour and European Tour events. McIlroy can obviously win, but it will be a big ask.
Darren Clarke will get to hit the opening tee shot on Thursday, which is a big honour for him and a well-deserved one as a former Open champion and a fabulous player throughout his career.
He lives here in Portrush now and this is where he practices, so he knows this golf course a million times better than anyone else in the field.
Weather conditions are looking like they are going to be decent, with only a little bit of rain over the week. I'm expecting good scoring and we could possibly see a winning score of 10 to 15 under, which would make for a great tournament.