English channelling Sir Nick, chasing royal week for St George’s flag at the Open

Nick Faldo in 1992 was the last Englishman to win the Open, but this year his countrymen are lined up to end the drought.

Best bet

Tyrrell Hatton each at 30/1

Tommy Fleetwood each way at 40/1

Harris English each way at 66/1

It's not quite 30 years since an Englishman (Nick Faldo) last won the Open - it's 29.

And if one of his compatriots wins the Claret Jug this week he won't be bringing it home - the home of golf is Scotland.

So neither that song or the sentiment work, but it remains irksome to the English that none of their fine golfers have yet added to the national tally of Open success.

This year, however, the challenge might be stronger than it has ever been since Faldo won his third championship in 1992.

At the forefront of that quest is Tommy Fleetwood, who was second behind Shane Lowry when the Open was last held at Royal Portrush.

Ahead of this week's first round at Royal St George's the 30-year-old spoke of his excitement for playing the championship back on home turf.

"It's just an amazing opportunity," he said. "It's very, very special and I've said it many times. For me personally there's three Opens - Birkdale, Hoylake, Lytham - that are within 40 minutes of where I grew up.

"People go their whole lives without playing any kind of event that close to home, and there's three chances there of the biggest event in the world being that close for me. So that a very special opportunity.

"This week is slight different. But I consider myself very lucky that I get to play this tournament as one of the home favourites and to get the support that I do. I always, always look forward to it."

Fleetwood admits he was disappointed by his performance in the final group alongside Lowry two years ago, but he is also encouraged by the progress he has made with every appearance in the championship.

"It did hurt," he said. "But you learn and I've improved every Open since 2016 because that year at Troon I was off the planet."

He missed the cut that week, his third failure in three to make the weekend, yet since then he's finished T27th at Royal Birkdale and T12th at Carnoustie before that runner-up effort at Royal Portrush.

"If that trend carries on then it would be really, really nice," Fleetwood said with a smile.

Since the start of 2018 Fleetwood has been on fire when playing links golf, making eight starts and never finishing outside the top 30.

He's got a great chance this week, but who else among the English contingent can challenge?

Let's take a closer look.

Tyrrell Hatton

Not so much a Tyrrell but a tyro on the links.

Hatton has played by the seaside 26 times in his career, landing 13 top 20s and two wins. He also owns top six finishes in the Open at both Royal Troon and Royal Portrush.

He thrashed a brilliant 65 last Sunday at the Scottish Open.

Matthew Fitzpatrick

Prior to last week something of a flop on the links.

He'd played 22 times and found just two top 10s, but he was much improved at The Renaissance Club and was one of the two unlucky losers in the playoff.

He now needs to transform a poor record in the Majors: he's not found a top 10 since his professional debut in them back in 2016.

Paul Casey

Flying high on confidence, the veteran has been superb in recent Majors.

He very nearly won last summer's PGA Championship, led the Masters in November, was fourth in May's PGA Championship and tied seventh in the US Open.

His Open record is solid rather than spectacular, but he's a winner this year at the Dubai Desert Classic.

Lee Westwood

Once second, twice third and, in all, a six-time top 10 finisher at the Open.

On the other hand, he has a dreadful record playing the event on English soil with not one top 25 finish.

Justin Rose

Another experienced Englishman in great nick at the Majors. In his case, three top 10s in his last five starts.

He finished tied fourth on his Open debut at a teenage amateur in 1998, but it took until 2018 for him to land another top five. Played the course last week and loved it.

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Ian Poulter

Solo second at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and tied third in 2013 remain his best Open efforts and both times he threw everything at the Claret Jug in the final round, foiled by great rounds from the champions.

Burst into contention with a blistering 63 last Sunday to land tied fourth at The Renaissance Club.

Matt Wallace

Only finished T51st and MC at the Open, but has finished tied second at both Hillside and Fairmont St Andrews.

Danny Willett

The 2016 Masters champion is not in great form, but he was tied sixth at the 2019 Open and he was a winner of the English Amateur Championship at Royal St George's.

Aaron Rai

Has found form in recent weeks and was a winner of the Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club last October, finishing third at Fairmont St Andrews two weeks later. Visited the course for prep work last month.

Harris English

So many Englishman with good prospects. Let's return to the beginning. That song. Hurt. Being pipped at the post.

It's hokum, but how about there is an English winner, but one whose name is Harris English? He's a two-timer winner this season, the world No. 12 and he's a big price.

READ MORE: The Open Championship: Can Shane Lowry reproduce his Royal Portrush magic?

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