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The Open 2018: Hole19's Top Ten 'Players To Watch'

The third major of 2018 is almost upon us and we are coming over all prophetic here at Hole19 HQ in predicting each of the 'Players to Watch' at the 147th Open Championship.

We're only a mere two weeks away from Jordan Spieth's defence of the Claret Jug and we got to thinking which of the biggest and best golfers in the world we'll be expecting to feature upon the fairways of Carnoustie Golf Links. in Angus, Scotland.

So, without further ado, here's a list of the players to watch during the 2018 Open Championship (in reverse order to add a little drama).

10. Alex Noren

Last week's winner of the HNA Open de France seems an Open champion-in-waiting. He's shown pretty impressive form on the PGA Tour also and had four separate top three finishes in 2018 prior to his win at Le Golf National.

Could join his compatriot Henrik Stenson as a Champion Golfer of the Year before too long.

9. Rory McIlroy

It would be easy to believe that Rory McIlroy has gone off the boil after his missed cuts at the U.S. Open last month and the Players Championship five weeks previous.

The truth is that the former world number one has several impressive performances scattered in and around these two events. And, of course, he took the Bay Hill Invitational back in March, so it's not as barren a year as we might otherwise think.

8. Jon Rahm

It's a case of when, and not if, Jon Rahm picks up a maiden major championship. He's having a solid 2018 with two wins already and, if not the guy who walks away with the tournament trophy, he's regularly sniffing around the lead come Sunday.

With that said, the T-4 at this year's Masters tournament is by far the best showing in his short major career and will be hoping his win at the 2017 Irish Open will stand him in good stead for another crack at links golf.

7. Dustin Johnson

The world's official world number one again so, almost for that reason alone, we can't leave him out of our list. Add to that his consistent 2018 form and we've got a no-brainer on our hands.

It seems time for DJ to add to his solitary 2016 U.S. Open major triumph but he has passed up countless other opportunities over the years. He will need to be at his dominant best to win this year at Carnoustie.

6. Rickie Fowler

We've heard it many times before, Rickie Fowler loves links golf. Well, it's true that there seems to be something in the salty sea air that brings the best out of the newly-engaged world number eight, but we need to see more if Rickie is to break out of the 'best to never win a major' bracket.

We expect to see him have a good week and he could go close.

5. Brooks Koepka

Anyone who leaves Brooks off their list of 'Players to Watch' for the 2018 Open Championship probably ignored him at Shinnecock Hills also.

We made the mistake for the second major of the year so, we're not making it for the third (once bitten twice shy and all that). He makes our shortlist and we expect to see him feature again now that he's injury-free.

4. Paul Casey

Paul Casey has managed a top ten in each of the four majors in the men's game but is yet to get over the line in any tournament more prestigious than a World Golf Championship.

Having declared again for Europe we might see him at Le Golf National in September and could see him lift the Claret Jug if he brings his A-game to Carnoustie. There are few more consistent players on the circuit, that's for sure.

3. Justin Thomas

JT will be threatening the upper reaches of major championship leaderboards for many years to come and we like his chances of featuring in Angus, Scotland in 2018.

The Kentucky native has already captured the number one spot this year before quickly relinquishing it to Dustin Johnson. A second major championship could have him back on top of the world once more.

2. Tommy Fleetwood

So far this year Tommy has saved his best performances for the biggest events. He came up one shy at the U.S. Open and was T-7 at The Players Championship - the 'unofficial fifth major'.

In 2017 he failed to live up to the expectations at Royal Birkdale in Southport - his hometown - and he may flourish when playing in his national Open this year while just a little further from home.

1. Justin Rose

It's time for Justin to take his deserving place as a multiple major champion. Winning the Olympic gold in Rio back in 2016 is all well and good, but major championships are what the best golfers are judged upon and the 2013 U.S. Open champion seems primed for another.

He will be a home favourite and the man we're hanging our hat on to take over from Jordan Spieth as Champion Golfer of the Year.

Who are you expecting big things from at this year's Open Championship? Have we a glaring omission from our top ten? Let us know below.

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