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Young: Australasia's Open Hopes Rest With Scott and Day

Does this great Irish layout hold another Open Championship for Australia? (Photo: Getty Images / Charles McQuillan)
Six Australians and one New Zealander will tee it up tomorrow night AEST when then the 148th Open Championship gets underway at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.

The outstanding and rugged links layout has rejoined the Open rota after a 68-year hiatus and is the only non-mainland Great Britain venue in that period to stage the Open, giving the 2019 instalment an added layer of intrigue.

There is much anticipation already for what many think is one of the finest true links courses used for the Open Championship. 

It's long-term absence from golf's oldest major was more a matter of logistics as much as anything else as the championship grows to the position it now commands in world golf.

Adam Scott, Jason Day, Marc Leishman, Cameron Smith, Jake McLeod and Dimi Papadatos along with New Zealander Ryan Fox get the chance to chalk up an 11th Open Championship victory by an Australasian and both Day and Scott can be considered genuine winning chances.

Scott will play the Open Championship for the 20th occasion not having missed a start since his debut in 2000 and given he has made the weekend in all but four of those starts his record is impressive, more especially in the last six years.

Scott has been inside the top ten in four of his last seven starts highlighted by his near miss in 2012 when bogeys at his final four holes saw him lose by a shot to Ernie Els.

In addition to his very good record in the event is Scott’s most recent form which includes top tens in each of his last three starts and although he has not played competitively since the US Open he is likely to be primed for a good week.

Scott has included local Darren Clarke in much of his preparatory work and, provided he has not overdone his preparation, he could well be a contender for his second major title.

Day’s very first major championship start came in this event in 2010 and he has not missed a cut in eight starts in that time. He has not exactly featured in many of those however the notable exception being when just one shot from the playoff at St Andrews in 2015.

Day has been neither good nor bad in recent starts in 2019 and a decision to include caddie Steve Williams as part of his team has yet to yield results although it is early days yet for that relationship.

Should Day get into a position to challenge for the title then William’s experience on the bag of 14 major championship wins will be a great asset. He has to get to that point, however.

Leishman has proven himself to be a great competitor with the type of game and demeanour perfect for major championship golf.

The Victorian has been once runner-up and once 6th in his last four starts at the Open Championship but aside from a 5th place at the Memorial Tournament recently his latest form suggests he is a little below his best.

Smith will play just his 3rd Open Championship and with a best of 78th to show for his efforts to date it is hard to get excited about his chances.

Smith’s other concern is his current form which has seen him fail to record a top twenty in his last ten starts on the PGA Tour. On that basis it is hard to fancy his chances.

McLeod is in the field for his first major championship courtesy of his 3rd place finish at last year’s Australian Open gaining one of the spots available via International Final Qualifying.

He has been playing the European Tour in 2019 courtesy of his success in winning the Australasian Tour’s money list in 2018 but having missed seven of his last nine cuts this year then making the weekend will be a big enough result for him.

So too is the case with Papadatos who also gets to play his first Open Championship courtesy of the Australian Open. He too has struggled of late missing six of his last seven cuts so for the NSW golfer making it to the weekend will be seen as a significant achievement against this field.

For both McLeod and Papadatos however, just being in the event is an achievement in itself and an experience they could not buy.

Fox plays his 4th Open Championship having made the cut in two of those starts. He appears to enjoy links golf but the World Super 6 Perth champion is in the middle of a horror run of form having missed his last six cuts.

 It is hard to imagine, therefore, much more than making the cut being his target this week.

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