At the time of writing there are 34 players on the start list for the 145th Open Championship who will be making their debut in the great event at Royal Troon. Below we take a closer look at 10 Open first timers who might make an impact.

Against the world’s best, over a tough course in testing (and unfamiliar for many) conditions, it’s undeniably tricky for a player to contend in their first Open Championship. But it has been done. Ben Curtis won on his debut in 2003, Tom Watson, Tony Lema, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead also achieved that feat.

Players from the UK and Ireland making their first starts may have more experience of the links that they could use to their advantage. Amateurs in this country play a good deal of competitive golf over the links. Then there are international players who have made it into this great event via tournaments across the globe. Many of these guys are used to playing in varying conditions on changing surfaces on a weekly basis and are able to adapt their techniques quickly.

Here are 10 Open first timers who might have the necessary skills to put in a good showing on their Open debut this year:

Kevin Chappell (USA)


Age: 29
World Ranking: 32
Qualified by: World Ranking

Credentials: Chappell has had an excellent year on the PGA Tour with second place finishes in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players Championship. He was tied for third in the recent WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He has mixed it with the top players and will not be intimidated by the occasion. He’s twice finished in the top-10 at the U.S. Open. He is definitely a player that could feature on his Open debut.

Justin Thomas (USA)


Age: 23
World Ranking: 36
Qualified by: World Ranking

Credentials: One of the most talented young players in world golf, Thomas is a great friend of Jordan Spieth. He made a PGA Tour cut as a 16-year-old, won the Walker Cup and has won a PGA Tour event in Malaysia. So we can say – he has the bottle to win, he’s played in big competitions and he has the ability to perform well away from home.

Emiliano Grillo (Arg)


Age: 23
World Ranking: 43
Qualified by: World Ranking

Credentials: After an excellent amateur career, Grillo turned pro in 2011. He’s won over €2,500,000 on the European Tour since then and has won on the PGA Tour – this year’s Open. He clearly has the skills and self belief to win at the very highest level.

Smylie Kaufman (USA)


Age: 24
World Ranking: 59
Qualified by: FedEx Cup position

Credentials: He caught the attention of the general public at this year’s Masters where he played in the final group alongside Jordan Spieth. Although he fell away at Augusta, he proved he has Major potential. He’s already a winner on the PGA Tour but his experience of the links is limited.

Royal Troon, the run up to the Open:

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Page 2
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