The Open 2017 - Who is Austin Connelly?

Who is Austin Connelly? The 20-year-old is enjoying his Open debut at Royal Birkdale.

The Open 2017 - who is Austin Connelly?

There's an unfamiliar name on The Open leaderboard. So, who is Austin Connelly? We'll be hearing this name a lot more, regardless of what happens over the next two days at Royal Birkdale.

The Open 2017 - Who is Austin Connelly?

A little after 15.35 this afternoon, Austin Connelly's name will be announced on the tee, and a few spectators - surrounding the 1st tee and at home watching on the television - will be asking the obvious question: Who is he?

That's understandable, no disrespect is intended. But the young Canadian will have plenty of fans not surprised to see him playing well at Royal Birkdale, although few would have envisaged him teeing off on Saturday in the third last group.

One man not surprised to see him enjoying his Open debut is his friend, Jordan Spieth.

"This is the type of golf where he can really, really make a move and prevail," said Spieth. "He really works the ball extremely well. He hits his long clubs dead straight. And he's got kind of a killer instinct on the greens, like nothing really fazes him.

Connelly got off to an amazing start on Saturday

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"I've played with him where we've had good matches and I've gotten beat by four or five shots in Dallas. He can go off. And he's not afraid to go low."

The Open 2017 - who is Austin Connelly?

Austin Connelly enjoys a practice round with Jordan Spieth [Getty Images]

This is some praise from the 36-hole leader and a player who has already reached number one in the world and claimed two Majors. Are we about to see another superstar enter the stage? The man himself certainly doesn't lack confidence, a bit like Spieth, with whom he shares the same agent and swing coach.

"I've said all week I'm very comfortable on this golf course," said the 20-year-old. "I enjoy links golf. I like playing links golf. And I'm just very confident where my game is at right now. I've been trending in the right direction for a while. It hasn't shown up so much in the results. I've had a couple of good ones throughout the year."

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Connelly, who was born in Irving, Texas, grew up in Austin, and has dual citizenship in Canada, where his father was born, qualified for The Open by winning a playoff at Royal Cinque Ports.

At 20, he's already racked up a fair few air miles. He earned his way on to the European Tour via Q School, and took to the skies with tournaments taking him to Europe, Australia and Africa, to name a few.

His best finish on the European Tour, to date, is eighth at the Nordea Masters in June. He also finished in a tie for ninth at the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth, and recorded a top-25 finish in the Made in Denmark Challenge.

Even 'unsuccessful' trips to Kenya, Portugal and India have been useful experiences, and he's arrived in Southport in good shape.

Don't be fooled by his size.  At just 5-foot-7 and 150 pounds, Connelly still packs a mean punch. In any case, "he hits his long clubs dead straight," according to Spieth, a useful skill to be able to execute at Royal Birkdale, where the crosswinds have been wreaking havoc thus far.

Michael Weston

Michael has been with Golf Monthly since 2008. As a multimedia journalist, he has also worked for The Football Association, where he created content to support the men's European Championships, The FA Cup, London 2012, and FA Women's Super League. As content editor at Foremost Golf, Michael worked closely with golf's biggest equipment manufacturers, and has developed an in-depth knowledge of this side of the industry. He's now a regular contributor, covering instruction, equipment and feature content. Michael has interviewed many of the game's biggest stars, including six world number ones, and has attended and reported on many Major Championships and Ryder Cups. He's a member of Formby Golf Club.