British Open: Golfweek's staff makes predictions for the final round

Ian Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

British Open: Golfweek's staff makes predictions for the final round

Euro Tour

British Open: Golfweek's staff makes predictions for the final round

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PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland — Brooks Koepka says he needs some wind and rain to help him chase down Shane Lowry in Sunday’s final round of the British Open at Royal Portrush.

“If it’s going to be windy, you need to be able to strike it good, control your flight and figure out where you want the ball to end up,” said Koepka, who is seven shots behind Lowry. “If it’s going to blow 30 (mph), it can get out of control very quickly.”

TEE TIMES: Final round tee times, pairings at Royal Portrush
SCORES: Leaderboard at the Open Championship

Conditions are expected to be so nasty that the R&A announced tee times would be moving up with the leaders set to tee off at 1:37 p.m. local time (8:37 a.m. ET)

Here’s a look at Golfweek’s predictions for the final round at Royal Portrush:

Winner: Brooks Koepka

I know Shane Lowry has a four-shot lead on Tommy Fleetwood and is six clear of the third-place resident, J.B. Holmes. But the winner of the Claret Jug come Sunday won’t be any of the aforementioned three players.

I’ll take the guy who has won three majors and finished second in two others in the last six played. So give me Brooks Koepka and his Tiger-esque ways in the game’s four biggest championships.

With birdies on his final two holes in the third round, Big Bad Brooks got to 9 under and within seven shots of Lowry. It’s not the ideal deficit, but it’s not insurmountable.

Especially with Mother Nature’s worst – Biblical rains and winds are in the forecast – heading this way, for Koepka’s strength, power and temperament will cut through the nastiest of elements while others will be clobbered into submission. Furthermore, with Ricky Elliott on the bag, the man who has played about 1,000 times at Royal Portrush, Koepka will be told how to deal with every type of tricky wind on every hole.

And not to anger Lowry fanatics – and there are many here as the Irishman has become the adopted son at Royal Portrush – but he did squander a 4-shot advantage with 18 holes to play in the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont.

So I’m taking the man who has owned the major stage. With his win, he’ll have gone 1-2-1-2-1 in the last five majors.

– Steve DiMeglio

 

Winner: Shane Lowry

It is tempting to believe Brooks Koepka can pull off another heroic Sunday and erase a seven-shot deficit. But what Lowry did Saturday, with tons of pressure playing in the final pairing in his home country, was simply too impressive. He doesn’t need to be nearly that good tomorrow – even a round of 73 or 74 should be enough to hold on if the wind blows like it’s expected to. I might feel differently if there were a past major champion within seven shots of the lead, but Tommy Fleetwood and J.B. Holmes haven’t done enough when it counts to make me believe they’re ready to go low in conditions like that. Lowry hoists the Claret Jug as a nation raises their glasses and parties long into the night.

Dan Kilbridge

 

Winner: Lee Westwood

Lee Westwood has won more than 40 times around the world, but not a single one of those victories would be mentioned in the first line of his obituary. Few have played better for longer in the majors without winning than the Englishman. His first top-10 came 22 years ago at Royal Troon. There have been 17 more since, including three seconds and six thirds. None of the names on the upper reaches of that iconic yellow leaderboard would be a more deserving winner. At 46, he knows this may be his last shot but he seems to be playing with a freedom rather than fear, and that could be decisive on Sunday. If the weather turns foul, attitude and experience count for a lot. Westwood is not lacking in either category.

– Eamon Lynch

 

Winner: Shane Lowry

The Golf Gods have set us up for a magical day and despite the forecast looking bleak for the late playing leaders, will guide the perfect winner for Portrush. He also happens to be a sensational golfer deserving of winning a major.

– Geoff Shackelford

 

Winner: Tommy Fleetwood

Tommy Fleetwood doesn’t have the same weight of expectation on his shoulders as Shane Lowry entering the final round of the Open Championship, which is why he can win. Lowry has all of Ireland’s hopes resting on his broad frame. That’s a heavy cross to bear. Maybe too heavy.

Shouts of Ole, Ole, Ole rang around Royal Portrush at the conclusion of Saturday’s round. You’d have thought Lowry had already been crowned Champion Golfer of Year.

The 28-year-old Englishman starts the final round at odds of 7/2 with British bookmakers Ladbrokes. Lowry is odds on favorite at 1/2. Fleetwood might be four shots behind, but that’s nothing on a tough links like Royal Portrush, especially with the foul weather predicted for the final round.

Fleetwood has no pressure apart from his own. He has nothing to lose. We’ve seen the front runner collapsed down the stretch in previous Opens. Remember Jean Van de Velde (1999), Thomas Bjorn (2003), Adam Scott (2012)?

This championship is far from over. Fleetwood can become the first Englishman since Nick Faldo 27 years ago to win the Open Championship.

– Alistair Tait

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