The Open recap: How the British & Irish players fared


Another Open, and another champion who heralds from these shores. And no, Jordan Spieth hasn’t switched allegiances in case you were wondering. We’re referring to amateur Alfie Plant, who won the Silver Medal on home soil at Royal Birkdale.

The European Amateur champion joined an illustrious list of former winners, which includes Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. The latter had to settle with being the leading British player on five-under-par this week, and that was despite starting the tournament with five bogeys in his first six holes. 

He was one of seven players in the top 30 to hail from the home nations, but that didn’t stop many patriotic fans cursing the odd bet or two.

From Rory’s resurgence to Paul Casey’s Friday meltdown, we take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly performances by British and Irish players.

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The Good

Rory McIlroy
Forget the first six holes on Thursday; this was McIlroy back to somewhere near his best, complete with the trademark strut. Monster drives, delightful chips and plenty of club twirls saw the world No.4 fight back from five-over-par to get within two of the lead at one stage on Saturday. Sadly, the putting woes which have plagued his season returned with a vengeance to stunt his progress, but a final-round 67 earned him a much-needed top-five finish after missing three of his last four cuts.

Matt Southgate
If you thought Jordan’s Spieth’s comeback was good, it’s worth pointing out that this time two years ago Southgate was undergoing surgery to treat testicular cancer. Since then, he’s finished 12th at the 2016 Open, won the 2017 Open qualifying at Royal Cinque Ports and recorded his best-ever Major finish this week. Rounds of 67 and 65 at the weekend catapulted the 28-year-old, who finished second at the Irish Open, up the leaderboard and into a tie for sixth. Not bad considering he was skirting with the cutline over the first two days. 

Alfie Plant
Royal Birkdale has a habit of dishing out Silver Medals to future Ryder Cup stars. Justin Rose and Chris Wood are two of the more recent incumbents, so who would bet against the European Amateur champion from reaching similar heights? He’s already got a hefty fan base, with more than 150 friends and family following him on every hole, and was the only amateur to make the weekend after rounds of 73 and 71. Rose couldn’t even better that. 

Ian Poulter
What a couple of months it’s been for the architect of the Miracle at Medinah. Who can forget that he was praying for his own miracle to win back his PGA Tour card, only for a calculation cock-up to reveal that he hadn’t lost it after all. Two weeks later, he finished second at the Players Championship and took that form into the final Open qualifying at his home course of Woburn to secure a tee-time at Royal Birkdale, the scene of his best Open finish to date in 2008. He continued his love affair with the course this week and although he dropped off the first page of the leaderboard on Sunday, he still finished in a tie for 14th – his best finish in a Major since the 2015 Masters.

The Bad

Paul Casey
He’s fast becoming the British version of Charley Hoffman. You know, the guy who always plays great on the first day of the Major, before disappearing into the pack thereafter? A scruffy 77 on Friday – an incredible 11 shots worse than the day before – did most of the damage, taking him from tied fourth to tied 35th. Back-to-back 67s over the weekend lifted him inside the top 15 – a position he’s now occupied four times in his last seven Majors – but he’ll leave Royal Birkdale wondering what might have been. 

Tommy Fleetwood
Tipped by many, including TG columnist Nick Dougherty, to join the maiden Major club this week, the hometown hero floundered under the weight of expectation in Southport. A shocker of an opening round, which included six bogeys and no birdies, put an end to his challenge before it had barely begun. To then follow it up with one of the rounds of the day (69) on Friday was as impressive as it was bewildering. Proof, then, that nerves do funny things to some people. Jordan Spieth can testify to that.

Padraig Harrington
All signs suggested that the Irishman could roll back the years and rival his younger counterparts at the top of the leaderboard. The history books were certainly in his favour, having won the second of his two Open titles at Royal Birkdale nine years ago. A fourth-place finish at the Scottish Open last week hinted at a return to form, but the golfing gods bit back over the first two days at Royal Birkdale as he missed the cut by one shot on six-over par. Interestingly, the 45-year-old was only two shots better off when he won here in 2008, albeit the conditions were a lot kinder this year. Just ask Johnny Miller.

The Ugly

Danny Willett
How the 2016 Masters champion has fallen. This time last year, the 29-year-old arrived at The Open as the world No.9 and was a tempting 50-1 shot to complete a Major double. Twelve months on and his name was etched just above Kent Bulle’s at the bottom of the leaderboard. Willett didn’t manage an under-par round all week and was the only man who failed to make a birdie on day three. On the plus side, he did manage to stay injury free – unlike at The Players Championship, US Open and Irish Open – and made the weekend for only the second time in his last eight events. Silver lining and all that!

Tyrrell Hatton
The 2016 Dunhill champion looked a good bet at 66/1 before the tournament started, but ended up spending most of the first two days hacking about in the rough. Eleven bogeys and two doubles were the net result, and left many ball spotters grateful that he didn’t make the weekend.

The British & Irish Final Leaderboard

Rory McIlroy: -5 (71, 68, 69, 67)

Matt Southgate: -4 (72, 72, 67, 65)

Paul Casey: -3 (66, 77, 67, 67)

Chris Wood: -2 (71, 72, 68, 67)

Ian Poulter: -2 (67, 70, 71, 70)

Richard Bland: E (67, 72, 70, 71)

Richie Ramsay: E (68, 70, 70, 72)

Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston: +1 (69, 74, 67, 71)

David Drysdale: +1 (72, 73, 66, 70)

Lee Westwood: +1 (71, 74, 69, 67)

Tommy Fleetwood: +1 (76, 69, 66, 70)

Laurie Canter: +2 (70, 72, 72, 68)

Matt Fitzpatrick: +3 (69, 73, 68, 73)

Ross Fisher: +3 (70, 72, 66, 75)

Justin Rose: +4 (71, 75, 69, 70)

Toby Tree: +4 (70, 75, 69, 70)

Alfie Plant (a): +6 (71, 73, 69, 73)

Andy Sullivan: +7 (70, 75, 69, 73)

Joe Dean: +7 (72, 72, 70, 73)

Danny Willett: +8 (71, 74, 73)


Mark Foster: +6 (75, 71)

Padraig Harrington +6 (73, 73)

Martin Laird: +7 (68, 79)

Paul Broadhurst: +7 (75, 72)

Paul Waring: +7 (74, 73)

Russell Knox: +7 (74, 73)

Darren Clarke: +8 (75, 73)

Haydn McCullen: +8 (73, 75)

Connor Syme: +9 (73, 76)

Paul Lawrie: +9 (70, 79)

Stuart Manley: +9 (68, 81)

David Horsey: +10 (75, 75)

Nick McCarthy: +11 (74, 77)

Tyrrell Hatton: +11 (75, 76)

Callum Shinkwin: +12 (74, 78)

Harry Ellis (a): +12 (77, 75)

Sandy Lyle: +13 (77, 76)

Adam Hodkinson: +16 (80, 76)

Robert Dinwiddie: +16 (77, 79)

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