The final men's major of 2019 is here, with The Open Championship set to unfold at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland. The Ulster club is hosting for the first time since its debut in 1951, marking just the second time in the championship's storied history dating back to 1860 that a club outside of Scotland or England will play host.
In one sense, that's incredibly exciting, with the entire island of Ireland feeling a sense of pride. The tournament is sold out -- completely sold out -- for the first time in the modern history of the Open, making it likely there won't be 68 years between turns for the Dunluce links.
Our friends at 888 Betting are leading with Rory McIlroy atop the table, sitting at 9-to-1 (+900) odds as the money rolls in and the tickets come out. McIlroy has held the course record at Royal Portrush for 14 years, dating back to when he shot 61 on the Dunluce at the age of 16.
In the last 40 majors played, McIlroy has 19 top-10 finishes, more than anyone by a considerable margin. He won The Players this year, filling one of the gaps in his resume. And he's practically been a top-10 lock when he plays, including good finishes at the PGA Championship and US Open.
If there's a place for Rory McIlroy to end a five-year winless skid in the majors and add a fifth major title to his mantle, this is it.
After a slow start to the year, Henrik Stenson has been playing strong golf the last two months, including a top-10 finish at the US Open in June. Stenson won his one and only major to date in the 2016 Open Championship at Royal Troon in one of the all-time great battles with Phil Mickelson on Sunday. While Stenson may be considered one of the game's more elder statesmen -- at least in the under-50 set -- the Swede still is a remarkable ballstriker and has the desire to add to his legacy.
Rafa Cabrera Bello will be a fascinating pick, as he has been torching the European Tour since the US Open at Pebble Beach. The Spaniard finished T-3 at the BMW International Open in Germany, then T-4 in the Irish Open at Lahinch, then T-9 at The Renaissance Club in the Scottish Open. The combination of form on links courses and his experience could make him a sneaky pick.
A truly compelling longshot pick is Danny Willett. The 2016 Masters champion returned to form last year after a long drought, winning the European Tour season-ending event in Dubai. He's been playing well in the last six weeks in the United States, including a top-15 finish at the US Open. While his game isn't quite to the level of the top names in the field, the Englishman has won a major, showed well on links courses in the past and is just far enough down the table to shock golf fans were he to win a second major title.