The British Open returns to Carnoustie July 19-22, with 13 golfers with Georgia ties, including three former champions, in the 156-player field.
The Georgia contingent also includes two tournament favorites with three Masters green jackets between them, along with a player who almost made it four Georgia-connected champions since 2001 last year.
Bubba Watson, who leads the PGA Tour with three victories this season, won the Masters in 2012 and ’14 and was fifth in Augusta this spring. But the former Georgia Bulldog has never enjoyed much success in the British Open, missing the cut in four of nine career starts, with five finishes between 23rd and 39th. Apart from a runner-up finish in the 2010 PGA, Watson’s record in the majors other than the Masters is less than stellar, and he missed the cut in the recent U.S, Open. Watson is currently third in the FedExCup standings.
Patrick Reed joined Watson as a Masters champion this year, and will be among the players to beat considering his recent run of play in the majors. Reed was second in last year’s PGA, won the 2018 Masters and tied for fourth in the recent U.S. Open, with his two strong major showings and a total of seven top 10s propelling him to seventh in the FedExCup standings. In four British Open starts, Reed has two missed cuts along with finishes of T20 in 2015 and T12 in ’16. Reed, who led Augusta State to back-to-back NCAA titles in 2010 and ’11, also was among the stars of the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team that competed in Scotland.
Zach Johnson is the most recent Georgia golfer to win the British Open, taking a three-way playoff at St. Andrews in 2015 to add to his 2007 triumph in the Masters. Johnson, a St. Simons island resident with 12 PGA Tour career titles, has not won since the 2015 British, an apparent occupational hazard for any Georgia-connected golfer to win the Claret Jug. Johnson will be making his 58th straight start in a major, and has compiled a solid career record with nine top 10s, three of them in the British. Over the last seven years, Johnson has placed 16th or better six times in the British Open, and is 54th in the FedExCup standings this season with 10 top-25 showings.
Stewart Cink has been winless since his 2009 playoff victory at Turnberry over Tom Watson, but has played his best golf since then in the past month with consecutive finishes of fourth in Memphis and second in Hartford. Cink, who starred at Georgia Tech and lives in Duluth, is 67th in the FedExCup standings and headed to perhaps his best season since ’09. Cink played at Carnoustie the last time it hosted the British Open, tying for sixth in 2007. This will be his 20th career start in the championship.
David Duval, also a former Georgia Tech standout and British Open champion, has not won since his 2001 victory at Lytham after winning 13 times in five years. Other than ties for second in the 2009 U.S. Open and in 2010 at Pebble Beach, Duval has absent from leader boards for more than 15 years, and has not made a cut on the PGA Tour since 2015, playing just nine times the past three seasons. He made his last cut in the 2015 British. Duval is currently working as an analyst for Golf Channel.
Matt Kuchar nearly made it three ex-Georgia Tech golfers and two St. Simons residents to win the British Open, placing second last year behind Jordan Spieth. Kuchar has compiled an excellent record in majors since 2010, recording 10 top 10s including three in 2017. He has been among the game’s most consistently successful performers since ’09, but is experiencing a relatively down year this season at 77th in the FedExCup standings. He has a modest three top 10s with a tie for fifth in Phoenix his best showing.
Patton Kizzire, one of four St. Simons residents in the field, is ninth on the FedExCup points list, but has been dropping since early-seasons wins in Mexico and Hawaii. Other than a tie for 12th in the WGC event in Mexico this spring, he has not finished in the top 30 since his win in Hawaii in early January. Kizzire has just four previous starts in majors, finishing near the bottom among those who made the cut in his only British Open appearance in 2016.
Chesson Hadley, one of four former Georgia Tech golfers in the field, has enjoyed a Kuchar-like season with seven top 10s and 13 top 25s, including a strong showing in the Players, and is 17th in points. Like Kizzire, Hadley is making just his fifth start in a major, missing the cut in his only appearance in the British in 2014. He missed the cut in the recent U.S. Open.
Luke List, who grew up in north Georgia, is also enjoying a breakout season with five top 10s, including a playoff loss to Justin Thomas in the Honda Classic. List, one of the game’s longest hitters, will be making his first British Open start, and has played in just two other majors since 2007 after making several appearances in the U.S. Open and one in the Masters as an amateur. His best finishes this season have come on highly respected courses like PGA National, Sea Pines, Bay Hill, Quail Hollow and Torrey Pines.
Brian Harman emerged as a big tournament player last year with a runner-up finish in the U.S, Open, and is enjoying an outstanding season with a tour-best eight top-10 finishes, including all three WGC events. He is 21st in the FedExCup standings. Harman has played in three of the last four British Opens, with, a tie for 26th in his first start in 2014 his best finish. Harman, a Savannah native and St. Simons resident, is one of four ex-Georgia Bulldogs in the field.
Russell Henley was Harman’s teammate at Georgia and will be making his sixth straight start in the British, with a tie for 20th in 2015 his best showing. Henley, a native of Macon, has been a solid performer in majors since ’15 with eighth finishes of T27 or better in 12 starts, including the last two Masters and the recent U.S. Open. However, he does not have a top-10 finish in a major. Henley is 70th on the points list after back-to-back top 10s in Hartford and at the Greenbrier.
Kevin Kisner was a member of Georgia’s 2005 NCAA Championship squad, and has been a consistently successful player on tour in recent years. The Aiken, S.C., native and resident has not enjoyed a great deal of success in majors, with a tie for seventh in last year’s PGA his only top 10. He has made the cut in two of three starts in the British, but has not finished in the top 50. Kisner is 51st in the FedExCup standings highlighted by a runner-up finish in the Match Play Championship and top 10s in the RSM Classic at Sea Island GC and the Heritage Classic.
Charles Howell has earned more than $35 million and notched 88 top-10 finishes in his career of almost 20 seasons, but has just two victories over that stretch and only one career top 10 in 43 starts in a major — a tie for 10th in 2003 PGA. Howell has made nine starts in the British Open, with a tie for 28th in 2011 his only top-40 finish. He played respectably in the recent U.S. Open, tying for 25th. That was one of 13 top 25s for the Augusta native, who is enjoying a typically solid but unexceptional season and stands 32nd on the FedExCup points list