Open 2014: England's contenders at Royal Liverpool

By Ged ScottBBC Sport at Hoylake
The clubhouse, Royal Liverpool
Hoylake hosts the Open for the 12th time in 2014
The 143rd Open Championship
Venue: Royal Liverpool Golf Club Date: 17-20 July Coverage: Live on BBC TV, HD, Red Button, online and mobile (UK only) and Radio 5 live; text commentary on BBC Sport website (#bbcgolf) and mobiles; watch again on iPlayer

It is now 120 years since the Open Championship was first played in England.

Comfortably the oldest of world golf's four major championships, the Open first moved south from Scotland in 1894 when it was staged on the Kent coast at St George's, Sandwich - and J H Taylor became the first Englishman to win the Open in England.

Three years later, the Royal Liverpool Golf Club became the second English course to be afforded the honour of staging the tournament, as another Englishman, Harold Hilton, from nearby West Kirby, won in Wirral by a single shot from James Braid.

But, in the 47 Opens since which have been staged in England, there have been only six English winners.

The last Englishman to win the Open, Sir Nick Faldo, won all his claret jugs in Scotland, claiming the first of his three Open wins in six years at Muirfield in 1987, winning again at St Andrew's in 1990, then again back at Muirfield in 1992.

And, since Devonian Taylor, who also won at St Andrews in 1895 and 1900, went on to complete his total of five Open wins with English victories at Royal Cinque Ports (1909) and Royal Liverpool (1913), there have been only four other English winners on English soil.

In a glut of six straight English successes in the Open in the years leading up to World War Two, Henry Cotton won in 1934, at Sandwich, which had by now been granted royal status, Alf Padgham won at Royal Liverpool in 1936 and Reg Whitcombe won back at Royal St George's.

But there has been only one English winner of an Open at an English course since the war, Tony Jacklin's triumph at Royal Lytham & St Anne's in 1969.

Admittedly, there are recent Open winners who have lived in England. Louis Oosthuizen was based in Manchester when he won at St Andrews in 2010 - and 2012 Lytham champion Ernie Els had a house on the Wentworth Estate.

But, although Shrewsbury-born Sandy Lyle won at Sandwich in 1985, he is very much a Scotsman, and so Jacklin's claret jug remains the only English success on an English course in the last 75 years.

As to whether that can be put that right this week, hopes largely rest on last year's US Open champion Justin Rose, the first Englishman since Faldo to win a major and now playing with the sort of consistency that earns permanent occupancy in the world top 10.

Of the other three members of the quartet of English Ryder Cup regulars in the world Top 50, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood have both had moments at an Open Championship when they felt they could almost touch the trophy. And Luke Donald, still 20th in the world rankings, and former world number three Paul Casey, back near his best at the Scottish Open this week, should not be discounted either.

Matthew Baldwin
Attached:Royal Birkdale
World ranking: 184th
Exemption:Open Qualifying Series Ireland (Irish Open, Fota Island)
Open record (1):2012: T59
First round tee time:15:44 BST
Matt Baldwin

Has been playing since the age of three. Turned pro in 2008, after the second of his four attempts at Qualifying School. Success on the Challenge Tour earned him his first European Tour card in 2012. Finished 72nd on the money list, then 87th in 2013. Played in his first major in 2012, at the US Open at the Olympic Club, where he finished tied for 59th. Also made the cut at his first Open a month later at Royal Lytham, where he tied for 23rd. A big Liverpool fan, his grandfather Ronald Ryder played rugby league for Warrington and Great Britain.

Baldwin told BBC Radio Merseyside: "I've been on the European Tour for three years and don't get the chance to play links golf much any more, so your game probably changes but I still feel like I've got the low ball, the chip and run shots and the putts from off the green, to make use of the conditions.

"I've not played here for seven or eight years but I walked round the course when it was last played here in 2006 and, from what I remember, there are certain holes, where you've got to hit irons off the tee."

Paul Casey
Born/lives:Cheltenham/Surrey & Arizona
World ranking:87th
Exemption:First 30 in the Race to Dubai for 2013
Open record (11):2002: Missed cut, 2003: Missed cut, 2004: T20, 2005: Missed cut, 2006: 71, 2007: T27, 2008: T7, 2009: T47, 2010: T3, 2011: T54, 2012: Missed cut
First round tee time:08:53 BST
Paul Casey

Enjoyed his best Open at St Andrews in 2010 when tying third - a second top-10 finish in three years. The three-times Ryder Cup player suffered a disappointing end to the year when left out of Colin Montgomerie's victorious European team at Celtic Manor, then suffered a luckless 2012 after breaking his collarbone in a snowboarding accident. Bounced back to form in 2013, winning the Irish Open at Carton House.

Ashley Chesters
Club:Hawkstone Park
World ranking:-
Exemption:European Amateur champion
Open record:Open debut
First round tee time:07:31 BST
Ashley Chesters

Started playing golf at the age of six at Hawkstone Park, also the breeding ground of former Open champion Sandy Lyle. Had his first two holes in one by the age of nine and was playing off scratch by the age of 13. Won his place at the Open by becoming the first English player since 2004 to win the European Amateur Championship, at El Prat in Spain. Coached by former tour pro Michael Welch, himself also a former product of Hawkstone Park.

Chesters told BBC Radio Shropshire: "There's only four of us amateurs here at Hoylake this week. It's just great to be one of them. I've been to a few Opens in the past. So it will be strange that I'm actually going to be playing, rather than just watching.

"But it will be great having the family here to support me. And it looks like there will be a few people from my club too. If I can play well here this week on a course set up like this, and in this company, it will give me some idea of where I am - and see where that takes me."

Luke Donald
Born/lives:Hemel Hempstead/Chicago
World ranking:20th
Exemption:Top 50 World ranking
Open record (13):1999: Missed cut (A), 2000: Missed cut (A), 2002: Missed cut, 2003: Missed cut, 2004: Missed cut, 2005: T52, 2006: T35, 2007: T63, 2009: T5, 2010: T11, 2011: Missed cut, 2012: T5, 2013: Missed cut
First round tee time:08:37 BST
Luke Donald

Seven top-10 finishes in majors, his tie for fourth at the Masters in 2011 being arguably his best. Twice tied fifth at the Open, thanks to a final round 67 at Turnberry in 2009 and a closing 69 at Lytham in 2012. Became world number one in 2011, but is still to find his best form at majors. After missed cuts at last year's Open and the USPGA, was down the field at Augusta (tied 52nd) and at the US Open at Pinehurst (tied 68th).

Sir Nick Faldo
Age:57 (on the second day of The Open)
Born/lives:Welwyn Garden City/Orlando
World ranking:Former number one
Exemption:Open champion 1987/1990/1992
Open record (35):1976: T28, 1977: T62, 1978: T7, 1979: T18, 1980: T12, 1981: T11, 1982: T4, 1983: T8, 1984: T6, 1985: T53, 1986: 5, 1987: Winner, 1988: T2, 1989: T8, 1990: Winner, 1991: T17, 1992: Winner, 1993: 2, 1994: T8, 1995: T39, 1996: 4, 1997: T51, 1998: T42, 1999: Missed cut, 2000: T41, 2001: Missed cut, 2002: T59, 2003: T8, 2004: Missed cut, 2005: T11, 2006: Missed cut, 2007: Missed cut, 2009: Missed cut, 2010: Missed cut, 2013: Missed cut
First round tee time:10:10 BST
Sir Nick Faldo

Three-times former Open champion, who won his first claret jug at Muirfield in 1987 and his last, five years later, in 1992. Also won at St Andrews in 1990. Won the last of his six majors, his third Masters, in 1996. Now lives in the United States, working as a television summariser for CBS.

Not made cut since tying 11th at St Andrew's in 2005. Played at Hoylake in 2006, shooting a one-under-par 71 after a 77 on day one.

Faldo told BBC Sport: "Making the cut is my goal as I haven't done that for moons. I'm just here out of curiosity. I just want to play solid and, if can get into a groove, and I think I can, then see what happens.

"I had a couple of years off. But I got the bug back last year, which was nice and now this week I've got my son Matthew on the bag, which is fun for me."

Oliver Fisher
World ranking:227th
Exemption:Final Qualifying (Woburn)
Open record (2):2011: Missed cut, 2013: T32
First round tee time:15:32 BST
Oliver Fisher

Became the youngest player to take part in the Walker Cup when he played at Chicago in 2005, at the age of 16 years and 334 days. Turned pro a year later, winning his first European Tour event at the Czech Open in 2011. After a poor year in 2013, a second-place finish in the Africa Open in February got the ball rolling - and he has has enjoyed three successive top 30 finishes in the last month.

Fisher told BBC Sport: "The more of these kind of tournaments you play, the more you get used to it. The more you know what to expect and the less you worry about all the hoohah going on around you.

"At European Tour events, you know what to expect. Whereas, for guys like me, tournaments like this only come round four times a year. But you're playing at a game that you love, playing on a great golf course and it's just a case of being consistent over four days."

Ross Fisher
World ranking:92nd
Exemption:Reserve list (based on world ranking). Earned place when 1998 Open champion Mark O'Meara pulled out
Open record (6):2007: Missed cut, 2008: T39, 2009: T13, 2010: T37, 2011: Missed cut, 2012: T45
First round tee time:15:00 BST
Ross Fisher

Introduced to the game by his stepfather at the age of three, learned his golf at Wentworth. Made his name in Open history at Turnberry in 2009 when he went into the final day in the lead, while awaiting the imminent arrival of his first child, daughter Eve. Briefly led the field in all four majors that year.

Fisher told BBC Sport: "Any time you play in an Open is fantastic and it's great to be back after missing a couple. It's the best tournament in the world and I've been drawn to play with John Daly again, as I was at Sandwich, when I last played, so it should be fun.

"After missing four cuts in a row, it was a real boost finding out that I'd got in. I've played pretty well this year and maybe not got the results I deserved. I've not played Hoylake before, but I saw a bit of it on TV in 2006 and, by all accounts, it won't be as firm and fiery this week. In fact, a lot of guys who played at the Scottish Open last week thought that this week might prove easier than Royal Aberdeen. "

Tommy Fleetwood
World ranking:91st
Exemption:First 30 in the Race to Dubai for 2013
Open record:Open debut
First round tee time:15:00 BST
Tommy Fleetwood

Has been in the European Tour's Top 30 for a couple of years after winning the Challenge Tour in 2011. Won the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in a play-off in 2013 - and has enjoyed two lucrative top-three finishes this year, at the Volvo Golf Champions in Durban in January and at the China Open in April. Everton fan, who also enjoys rugby league and watches Wigan.

Fleetwood told told BBC Radio Merseyside: "The Open is a different league to anything else. Even on practice rounds, the crowds have been huge.

"I'm off at 3:00 which is a great tee time, as I don't have to get up at a stupid time. And I'm playing with Ross Fisher, who I know from the tour, and John Daly, which is a cracking group.

"I played with John Daly in my first year on tour in Qatar and he came over to say 'hello' when he saw me in Germany earlier this year, which was two years on and I never thought he'd remember me, which just goes to show what a nice bloke he is."

Chris Hanson
Attached:Woodsome Hall
World ranking:668th
Exemption:Final Qualifying (Hillside)
Open record:Open debut
First round tee time:11:05 BST
Chris Hanson

Shot two rounds of 69 at Hillside to earn a place in a four-man play-off for three places. Came through to secure a place at his first Open after many years of trying. Was a three-time winner on the EuroPro Tour in 2011 and has since been competing on the Challenge Tour, but has yet to record a top-three finish - and has finished 88th, then 87th in successive years on the Order of Merit.

Hanson told BBC Radio Leeds: "It's unbelievable. It's every player's dream to be at an Open. I've reached Final Qualifying several times before, but the nearest I came was at Hillside a few years ago when I missed out by three. So to finally be teeing up at an Open Championship really is a dream come true.

"When there's a few thousand people sat in the stand and the announcer calls out my name that first tee shot's going to feel a bit different to a normal one. I've been playing well lately and there's no reason I can't compete, but most people would say you start off just by looking to make the cut."

Tyrrell Hatton
Born/lives:High Wycombe/Marlow
World ranking:161st
Exemption:Scottish Open
Open record:2010: Missed cut, 2013: Missed cut
First round tee time:11:37 BST
Tyrrell Hatton

Appeared in his first Open as an 18-year-old amateur at St Andrews in 2010, shooting rounds of 78 and 77 to miss the cut. Turned pro in 2011. After two wins on both the Europro Tour and the Jamega Tour, secured a card on the Challenge Tour for 2013. Fired a final-round three-under-par 68 to finish tied for fourth in the Scottish Open on Sunday to secure his place at Hoylake.

Hatton told BBC Three Counties Radio: "I'm over the moon to have qualified for the Open and to also secure my European Tour card for next year. I'm now 47th in the Race to Dubai and hopefully I'll stay there. I've just got to work at staying calmer out on the course."

David Howell
Born/lives:Swindon/Weybridge & Dubai
World ranking:149th
Exemption:First 30 in the Race to Dubai for 2013
Open record (11):1997: Missed cut, 1998: T42, 1999: T45, 2001: Missed cut, 2002: Missed cut, 2003: Missed cut, 2004: Missed cut, 2006: Missed cut, 2007: T53, 2008: T7, 2009: T52
First round tee time:06:25 BST
David Howell

Playing in his first Open since tying 52nd at Turnberry in 2009, having enjoyed his best finish a year earlier, a share of seventh place at Royal Birkdale. Won the Alfred Dunhill at St Andrew's last September, his first win since 2006 when he was at one point European number one, ultimately finishing third.

Howell told BBC Wiltshire: "It's a thrill to tee off first at The Open. It means that one of our group is going to be leading in the clubhouse when we finish our round. The course is in great shape. Different to when we here in 2006. Maybe more green, but exactly what you would expect. It's not brutally tough, rough-wise. It will be a good Open test."

Ian Poulter
Born/lives:Hitchin/Milton Keynes & Orlando
Attached: Woburn
World ranking:27th
Exemption:Top 50 World ranking
Open record (13):2000: T64, 2002: T50, 2003: T46, 2004: T25, 2005: T11, 2006: Missed cut, 2007: T27, 2008: 2, 2009: Missed cut, 2010: T60, 2011: Missed cut, 2012: T9, 2013: T3
First round tee time:09:37 BST
Ian Poulter

Enjoyed his third top 10 finish at an Open a year ago at Muirfield, four shots adrift of Phil Mickelson. The only Englishman with more than one WGC title to his name, in 2010 and 2012, the lifelong Arsenal fan with the eye-catching dress sense invariably appears at his most inspired in Ryder Cup combat.

Poulter told BBC Sport: "I'm as prepared as I'm ever going to be to play this Open. You just have to have a good game plan and stick with it and don't do anything silly. Trying to stay away from trouble is a good thing.

"I know I missed the cut here in 2006, but that's erased from the system now. And I think my Open record since shows I understand links golf better now than I did eight years ago."

Chris Rodgers
World ranking:1,098th
Exemption:Final Qualifying (Sunningdale New)
Open record:Open debut
First round tee time:16:06 BST
Chris Rodgers

Secured his place after coming through Final Qualifying at Sunningdale, shooting rounds of 67 and 72 round the New Course. Has spent the last 10 years playing on the Asian Tour but, after losing his card, is now based back in England. Started playing golf at his local pitch and putt at the age of three.

Rodgers told BBC Sport: "I've been trying to qualify for the Open for 20 years, got close and missed out in play-offs, so this is a dream for me. For any youngster growing up, this is the scenario you think about walking down 18.

"It's the biggest tournament I've ever played in. I just need to get the 'wow' factor out of the way and get on with it. The course is in lovely shape. If the weather gets bad, it can bite you but, if you can keep your ball visible, you won't be far away. I've played my fair share of links golf. My dad's a member at Royal Cinque Ports and, if you can handle it there, you should be all right anywhere."

Justin Rose
Born/lives:Johannesburg/London & Orlando
Club:Hartley Wintney, Hampshire
World ranking:3rd
Exemption:US Open champion 2013
Open record (12):1998: T4 (Silver Medal), 1999: Missed cut, 2001: T30, 2002: T22, 2003: Missed cut, 2007: T12, 2008: T70, 2009: T13, 2010: Missed cut, 2011: T44, 2012: Missed cut, 2013: Missed cut
First round tee time:14:27 BST
Justin Rose

The form player in world golf after back-to-back wins in America and Europe, capped by his Scottish Open success at Royal Aberdeen. Would love a claret jug to match his US Open success at Merion 13 months ago, but he has underperformed at the Open since his very first one, as an amateur at Royal Birkdale in 1998, when he memorably holed his approach shot on the last day to finish tied for fourth behind Mark O'Meara.

As a pro, he has never enjoyed a top 10 finish in the Open - and has missed three of his last four Open cuts.

Rose told BBC Sport: "Thousands of times I've won the Open Championship in my mind. This is probably the one I've dreamed about the most, holing the putt to win as a junior on the putting green through the years.

"The odds have gone more in my favour just through confidence and the experience of having done that the last couple of weeks. But winning a major championship is never easy, no matter what the circumstances. For me, the goal is to trust my game. When you're chasing major championships, any of them will do. But to win this one would be incredibly special."

John Singleton
Club:Eastham Lodge
World ranking:-
Exemption:Final Qualifying (Hillside)
Open record:Open debut
First round tee time:10:32 BST
John Singleton shot a second round 66 at Hillside to book his place at the Open

Completed his golfing education in the US collegiate system, at Rendlake in southern Illinois. He then stayed across the pond when he turned pro in 2005, only to return to England two years later, due to a combination of homesickness and a knee ligament injury. Now works at a Wirral factory making resin for waterproof cables, playing at his local club, Eastham Lodge. Failed to make it through Regional Qualifying by a shot at Mere, with his dad on the bag, only to be called up as a reserve to Final Qualifying, firing a second-round 66 at Hillside to win a place in a four-man play-off for three spots. Celebrates 31st birthday on the final day of this year's Open.

John Singleton told BBC Radio Merseyside: "It's a dream to play here. It's only about five minutes from where I live. And to come through qualifying makes it all the sweeter. I've been out there playing early and late to get used to the wind and rain in all the different conditions. But, for me, 98% of it is mental. If I can control my emotions, I think I'll have a nice week."

Matt Southgate
Attached:Thorpe Hall
World ranking:1,099th
Exemption:Final Qualifying (Sunningdale New)
Open record:Open debut
First round tee time:11:26 BST
Matt Southgate

Shot rounds of 70 and 64 on the New Course to win Final Qualifying at Sunningdale. Had four top 10 finishes in his rookie year on the Challenge Tour, including a second place at the Scottish Hydro Challenge. After a brief attempt to make it in US collegiate golf in Illinois, he had spent four years working in a snooker hall when he won his European Tour card after coming through qualifying school in 2011, as he did again in 2012 - but he only made three cuts before falling back to the Challenge Tour.

Lee Westwood
Attached:Close House
World ranking:32nd
Exemption:Top 50 World ranking
Open record (19):1995: T93, 1996: Missed cut, 1997: T10, 1998: T62, 1999: T13, 2000: T64, 2001: T47, 2002: Missed cut, 2003: Missed cut, 2004: 4, 2005: Missed cut, 2006: T31, 2007: T35, 2008: T67, 2009: T3, 2010: 2, 2011: Missed cut, 2012: T45, 2013:
First round tee time:14:38 BST
Lee Westwood

Three top-three finishes in his last six Opens, but still no claret jug. Third at Turnberry in 2009, second at St Andrews in 2010, led going into the final day at Muirfield a year ago. But he may never have a better chance than last year when, stood on the 7th tee on the final day, he held a three-shot lead. Moved to the United States last year. Still a year younger than friend and stablemate Darren Clarke when he won at Sandwich in 2011.

Suffered only his third missed cut in 15 attempts at the US Open last month. But, starting with his third place finish at Torrey Pines behind Tiger Woods at the 2008 US Open, his seventh place at the Masters in April was his 12th Top 10 finish in 25 majors.

Westwood said: "The Open is the one, the most prestigious championship in the world. I've come close in the past few years. It would be nice to close one out. I don't think there is any glaring weakness to my game.

"It is fine margins at major championships and you can't afford to make minor mistakes. That is why they are so special to win."

Danny Willett
World ranking:93rd
Exemption:Open Qualifying Series Ireland (Irish Open, Fota Island)
Open record (2):2011: Missed cut, 2013: T15
First round tee time:13:05 BST
Danny Willett

Son of a Sheffield vicar. English Amateur champion in 2007, earning a place in the same Walker Cup team as Rory McIlroy. Turned pro in 2008, winning his first European Tour title, the BMW International Open, in June 2012. Came though on final day at Muirfield a year ago to tie 15th with a level-par 71.

Willett told BBC Sport: "I was pleased with 15th at Muirfield last year.

"It was nice to go into a major feeling all right and perform quite well and we had a decent end to the season on the back of it. And this year's been good.

"The injuries are just about going and I'm back into the world top 100. And the course this week, the way it has been set up, might just suit us."

Chris Wood
Club:Long Ashton
World ranking:96th
Exemption:First 30 in the Race to Dubai for 2013
Open record (4):2008: T5 (Silver Medal), 2009: T3, 2010: Missed cut, 2013: T64
First round tee time:07:16 BST
Chris Wood

At 6ft 5ins, the joint-tallest player on the European Tour. Tied for fifth place in his first Open at Royal Birkdale in 2008, to win the Silver Medal as leading amateur. Went even closer a year later at Turnberry, finishing third, missing the play-off between Stewart Cink and Tom Watson by one shot.

Wood told BBC Points West: "The Open seems to grow bigger and bigger every year. Certainly being from England, it's the event top of everyone's list to win. We don't get to play much in England these days.

"I don't think it will ever top my first year, certainly as an amateur. But I'm in my fifth or sixth year as a pro and it's still got the same feel to it. It will always be number one on my list.

"Around Liverpool they are spoilt for golf courses. They get massive crowds here and it adds to the whole event.

"It's nice to get out in the first few groups. I could have my feet up by 11:00 and hopefully watch the weather outside deteriorate."

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