Let’s look at how they got into the field and what we can perhaps expect from each of them.
Day plays his 7th Open Championship having not missed a cut in his previous six, including a best finish of 4th at St Andrews just a shot behind the playoff in 2015. Day, of course, is in the field through a range of criteria but essentially due to his standing in the world ranking but also as a PGA Champion and Players Champion over the past five years and because of making the Tour Championship field last year.
The 29-year-old has missed the cut in each of his last two starts this season and will arrive at Royal Birkdale with a cloud over his current form.
Scott, like Day, has played his way into the field courtesy of his world ranking, his Masters victory in 2013 and his place in the Tour Championship field last year.
The Queenslander’s form of late has been mixed, missing the cut at the US Open and riding a roller coaster at the Scottish Open last week where a third round of 78 was followed by solid final round of 68. Hard to get a line on where he is at right now, but in more recent years, he has played the Open Championship very well and could contend.
Leishman is to play his 7th Open Championship, his best finish coming in 2015 when beaten in a playoff by Zach Johnson. The Victorian was also 5th at Royal Liverpool the previous year, so he has displayed an ability to handle the vagaries of Open Championship golf well.
The 33-year-old is in the field as a result of his place amongst the world’s top 50 golfers and his recent form has been very consistent, including a 5th at the Quicken Loans event earlier this month. He could well be the one to excel amongst the Australians.
Hend is in the field due to his success topping the 2016 Asian Tour money list and by finishing inside the top 30 in last year’s Race to Dubai. This will be Hend’s fourth Open Championship start, making only one of his previous three cuts for a best of 72nd.
Hend’s most recent form, despite missing the cut last week in Scotland, has been solid yet unspectacular and a better Open Championship showing can be expected.
Baddeley, in the field by finishing 4th at the 2016 Australian Open, has missed the cut in six of his previous seven Open Championship appearances and, on the only occasion he did make the weekend, he struggled into 69th position at Royal Lytham and St Annes five years ago.
The 36-year-old has missed his last three cuts on the US Tour so his record at the Open and current form suggest he is a long way from where he needs to be to do much better than improve on his previous best.
Smith gets to play his first Open Championship courtesy of his runner-up finish behind Jordan Spieth at last year’s Australian Open. Smith has not played on tour since the Memorial Tournament in June and, despite his maiden PGA Tour win at April's Zurich Classic of New Orleans, his lack of competitive action may work against the talented Queenslander.
Dodt earned one of the last spots available at the Open Championship with his excellent showing at the Scottish Open last week where he finished tied for 4th. There has been considerable improvement in the Queenslander’s game since late 2016 and to have done as well as he did last week suggests he is playing some of his best golf.
This, though, will be Dodt’s first appearance in a major championship and although playing very well at present, if he is able to make it to the weekend, then he will have done very well. He has in fact done very well to make it into the field.
Bland gained his start at this year’s championship, his 3rd appearance in the world’s oldest major, by finishing well at the Mizuno Open in Japan in May. Bland has missed the cut in his previous two Open Championship starts at Royal Liverpool in 2006 and at St Andrews in 2015 and, although he is having another solid season in Japan in 2017, expectations beyond making the cut would be perhaps unrealistic.
Hall played his way into the event by finishing joint runner-up at last year’s Australian Open and will play his second Open Championship after missing the cut in 2012.
Without a significant tour on which to play in 2017, Hall has had to rely on playing Tier 2 events in Australia of late but, if he can find a way to reproduce the sort of golf that saw him finish second to Jordan Spieth at Royal Sydney and 4th the following week at the Australian PGA Championship, a good week is not totally beyond him. That however is a big ask given the lack of tough tournament golf he has played of late.
Griffin is in the field by winning the PGA Tour of Australasia’s Order of Merit in 2016. It will be the 33-year-old’s debut at the Open Championship and his first major event and his most recent form in Japan suggests it will be a struggle for him. It will however be a great experience and a very tidy game built around strategy could see him making the weekend.
McCarthy has been playing mainly Challenge Tour events in Europe without a lot of success for much of this year, but he found a way to earn a start in his first ever major championship by surviving a playoff during a Final Qualifying event in Scotland less than two weeks ago.
It will be a great thrill and opportunity for the Tasmanian native to play such a prestigious event but if he was to make the weekend, then it will be perhaps an even greater thrill.
Two New Zealanders also get a start:
Fox plays his second Open Championship and just his second major championship having done well in his first attempt at St Andrews two years ago. He is playing some of his best golf at present, finishing 6th in France and 4th in Ireland and again in Scotland last week. Another very good week is not beyond him.
Hendry played his way into the field for his first major championship courtesy of a good finish at the Japan Tour’s version of International Final Qualifying. He has put together several good finishes this season including his win at the New Zealand Open in March. This is a different league but given his growing standing in world golf, the 37-year-old deserves his chance to play at this level.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON RELIVES 2008 OPEN GLORY AT BIRKDALE
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