Rory McIlroy Returns To Hoylake With Immaculate Vibes, Scottie Scheffler Feeling Overdue For A Second Major Lead The Storylines At The Open

Videos by OutKick

The Open at Royal Liverpool is upon us, but this year I suggest we take a different approach as we head into the year’s final major championship.

Instead of wasting a single second thinking about the fact that after the final putt drops on Sunday, we’ll have to wait a full nine months until the next major rolls around, let’s just enjoy four days of links golf. The post-major Monday hangover always hits differently after The Open, but we’ll deal with that when we get there.

Thankfully, there is no shortage of storylines heading into the 151st Open as it returns to Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England, for the first time since 2014.

Vibes For Rory McIlroy Are Off The Charts As He Heads Back To Hoylake

The Rory McIlroy hype heading into this year’s Open championship has been incredibly high all year given that he hoisted the Claret Jug at Hoylake nine years ago. His win in the 2014 Open came a month before his 2014 PGA Championship victory at Valhalla, which was the last time he stood in the winner’s circle at a major championship.

Many have pegged this return spot for McIlroy as the perfect place for him to capture major No. 5, and now that he went out and won last week’s Scottish Open, he is without a doubt the most-circled name in the field.

Rory McIlroy Isn't Talking LIV Golf Ahead Of The PGA Championship
Rory McIlroy returns to Hoylake this week, the site of his Open victory in 2014. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Everyone with eyes and a brain has known that McIlroy has always had the game to rattle off more major championships. The knock for the last nine years against McIlroy is that he has lacked the mental game to put together four good rounds at a major to get the job done.

His win at last week’s Scottish Open doesn’t compare to any previous or potentially future major championship wins, but the fashion in which he got the job done by going birdie-birdie to finish in hurricane-esque winds may have taken his confidence to a level he hasn’t had in close to a decade.

A fresh-off-a-win McIlroy that’s dripping in confidence getting set to play at a place he’s already won an Open at seems like a perfect opportunity to become a five-time major winner.

Scottie Scheffler Has To Win His Second Major (Incredibly) Soon, Right?

From a statistics standpoint, Scottie Scheffler has been the best golfer on the planet in 2023, and the gap between him and the No. 2 player on that list isn’t a small one.

Over the course of his last 19 starts, dating to November 2022, Scheffler has not finished worse than 12th. In that span, he’s picked up two wins and another 11 Top 5 finishes. When it comes to strokes gained: tee-to-green over his last 11 starts, he’s led the field on four occasions and not finished worse than T-5 one single time.

If you want to go a little more major-focused, Scheffler is beating every player in the entire world by at least 27 shots since 2020.

The fact that he’s only won one major in that stretch – the same stretch Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa have won two each – makes close to no sense.

To say this man is due for a major win, both literally and figuratively, is an understatement.

Are We Really Going To Over Look Jon Rahm?

Jon Rahm missed the cut at the Travelers Championship, his most recent start, and elected to skip the Scottish Open, and for some reason that’s made it feel like he’s flying under the radar this week. That’s odd to say about the No. 3 player in the world, but that’s the reality just a few days before the year’s final major.

While the missed cut at the Travelers may deter some from picking Rahm as their favorite this week, it’s worth remembering he finished T-3 in the 2021 Open and finished T-10 at the U.S. Open a month ago.

Oh, he also put on a green jacket three and a half months ago.

It wouldn’t come as a shock at all to see Rahm win major No. 3 in a few days.

Jon Rahm Shares Great Perspective On Life Amid Uncertain Times In Golf
We can’t overlook Jon Rahm at The Open. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Jordan Spieth Should Feel Right At Home

While Scheffler may be the overall statistical GOAT in 2023, Jordan Spieth owns that title among current players at Open championships.

The Texan leads all players over the last five years in Top 10 finishes at The Open which includes a win in 2017 and a solo second in 2021.

Any Spieth fans know to throw his missed cut at last week’s Scottish Open into the trash. The same can be said for his missed cut at the U.S. Open. Form means nothing when it comes to Spieth, especially when we’re talking links-style golf.

There is something about golf across the pond that brings out the best in Spieth. It’s an adventure more often than not each time he tees it up, but it’s an enjoyable adventure when there is a Claret Jug on the line.

Is Brooks Koepka The Favorite Among LIV Players?

Cam Smith is the defending champion this week and is fresh off of a win at LIV London two weeks ago, but it’s hard to not have Brooks Koepka at the top of the LIV power rankings among players in the field at Hoylake.


Koepka had his close call at The Masters finishing T-2 and followed that with a win at the PGA Championship. He didn’t have a total post-major-winning hangover at the U.S. Open, either, finishing T-17.

Much like Spieth where you can ignore current form when heading into an Open, the same can be said each time Koepka steps foot on a major championship venue.

He is the definition of a big-game hunter, admitting that he essentially only circles major championships on the calendar each year.

If Koepka were to win Sunday it would be six major championships in just 38 major starts and six in his last 24.

It Feels Like A Rickie Fowler Week, For Good Reason

While he’s only won once this season, Rickie Fowler has been one of the best players in the world since the calendar flipped to 2023 going from being ranked 103rd in the world at the end of last season to No. 22 this week.

The man has been playing inspired golf after a rough patch in his career and now gets to return to Hoylake where he finished T-2 behind McIlroy in 2014. You don’t have to make too strong an argument to convince anyone he’s playing the best golf of his life right this moment since that T-2 finish nine years ago.

Rickie Fowler winning his first major championship at 34 years old, at Hoylake, would be quite the story. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Along with his win at the Rocket Mortgage Classic earlier this month, he’s finished T-15 or better in eight of his last 10 starts. He also showed plenty of life at the Scottish Open last week with a pair of 67s to open the tournament before struggling Sunday.

Fowler loves links-style golf, will feel right at home at Royal Liverpool, and is playing with confidence he hasn’t had in years.

Talk about a storybook ending to 2023 if Fowler was to win his first major championship at 34 years old.

Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris

Written by Mark Harris

Leave a Reply