Open-Tony Jacklin's five players to watch at Birkdale
July 17 (Reuters) - Tony Jacklin, who won the British Open at Royal Lytham and St Anne's in 1969, identifies five players to watch during the July 20-23 major championship at Royal Birkdale:
JORDAN SPIETH (U.S.)
World ranking: Three
Major wins: 2015 U.S. Masters, 2015 U.S. Open
"Birkdale should suit Jordan down to the ground. He is someone who thinks his way around a course and when distance doesn't count, it changes everything for him, because he is a great, great putter.
"Those par-70 links are not about strength and power. The total yardage may only be 7,156, not overly long by modern-day standards, but it's a true test of golf."
MATTHEW FITZPATRICK (England)
World ranking: 38
Major wins: None
"Matt is just the sort of player who could do well... He is someone who may just come to the fore.
"He is solid off the tee with his driver, is a good putter and has got a calm, steady head. The longer courses they have these days don't really suit his game.
"Matt has plenty of top-level experience now and his exposure to pressure when he made his Ryder Cup debut in Minnesota last year will be another asset."
DUSTIN JOHNSON (U.S.)
World ranking: One
Major wins: 2016 U.S. Open
"Dustin is a unique talent. He hits the ball vast distances and is so exciting to watch.
"If he turns up at Birkdale with his 'A game' then everybody else is playing for second place but I don't think his length off the tee is going to help him much.
"Instead of hitting a three-wood, he would be better served taking a four-iron off some tees. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts."
JON RAHM (Spain)
World ranking: Eight
Major wins: None
"Jon may have charged to a six-shot victory at the Irish Open ... but if you play Birkdale the way he played Portstewart, you won't get round it.
"The rough there is proper stuff. He hardly found a fairway in the final round but still managed to hit a closing 65.
"That's not going to happen at Birkdale. It's too difficult a course. It's not about brute force and power, it's a thinker's course."
JUSTIN ROSE (England)
World ranking: 12
Major wins: 2013 U.S. Open
"Justin has all the experience in the world and is another of those steady players who is well suited to plotting his way round at Birkdale, avoiding the fairway traps and the knee-high rough, which is a key factor at any British Open.
"It was there, of course, where he burst on to the scene in 1998, finishing tied fourth at the age of 17 behind American winner Mark O'Meara. I remember people saying at the time that it was the best result by a British amateur since 1921."
- - - - -
Tony Jacklin is an ambassador for the Farmfoods British Par 3 Championship at Nailcote Hall in Coventry from Aug. 8-11 (britishpar3.com) (Editing by Rex Gowar)