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Players to watch at the British Open

ST ANDREWS, UNITED KINGDOM (AFP) – The 150th British Open starts in St Andrews on Thursday, returning to the Old Course for the first time since 2015.

AFP Sport looks at six leading contenders to win the Claret Jug.

World ranking: 1st
Major titles: One (2022 Masters)

It has been a remarkable year for Scheffler, who won his first title on the PGA Tour in February, won two more in March to become world number one, and then in April won the Masters, finishing three shots clear of Rory McIlroy to take the green jacket and his first major.

Raised in Texas, Scheffler then finished in a tie for second at last month’s US Open at Brookline.

World ranking: 2nd
Major titles: Four (2011 US Open, 2012 and 2014 PGA Championship, 2014 British Open)

When a 25-year-old McIlroy won the 2014 Open at Hoylake and then added the PGA Championship a few weeks later, the Northern Irishman looked unstoppable. Yet he has not added to his tally of four majors in the eight years since.

He has come close though, not least at the last Open in Scotland in 2018, when he finished tied second at Carnoustie. McIlroy also came second at the Masters in April, falling short of winning the one major he needs to complete a career Grand Slam. Since then he has won the Canadian Open and come tied fifth at the US Open, confirming his fine form coming to St Andrews. “I’ve got one more chance this year to try to get that major,” he said recently.

World ranking: 3rd
Major titles: One (2021 US Open)

Rahm can become the second Spaniard to win the Open and follow in the footsteps of the late great Seve Ballesteros, a three-time champion.

The 27-year-old won his first major at last year’s US Open and came tied third in the British Open at Royal St George’s but his form this year has been less inspiring, with tied 12th at the US Open his best major performance.

World number one golfer Scottie Scheffler walks to the tee box during the JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor, Ireland. PHOTO: AP