British Open 2019 Odds: Who Is Favorite to Win at Portrush This Weekend?

Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka are the men to beat at The Open Championship, as golf's oldest major gets underway on Thursday.

For the first time since 1951, The Open returns to Northern Ireland, with the Royal Portrush Golf Club in County Antrim set to stage the 148th edition of the tournament.

McIlroy, who as a 16-year-old smashed the course record with a blistering 61, has not won a major since triumphing in the PGA Championship at Valhalla in 2014.

Bookmakers, however, believe playing at home presents the 30-year-old with the perfect opportunity to break his drought.

According to VegasInsider, McIlroy is an 8/1 favorite to claim a second Claret Jug after the one he won in 2014 at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in England.

While playing in Northern Ireland could prove an advantage for McIlroy, it is also likely to make the already considerable weight of expectations on his shoulders even heavier.

The four-time major winner insisted he was determined to use the pressure that comes with being the local favorite as a motivator.

"As an event with as much anticipation, probably not. It is something I have thought about for a long time," he told BBC Sport. "I never thought I would be able to play an Open Championship at home. It's been 68 years since Portrush hosted the Open. I'm treating it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I'm going to try to make the most of it."

Brooks Koepka is also 8/1 to finish ahead of the pack come Sunday afternoon.

The Floridian has won four of the last nine majors and has finished in the top two in the last four. Since falling just short of claiming a historic third U.S. Open in a row at Pebble Beach last month Koepka has looked slightly out of sorts, finishing 57th and 65th in the two events he has played.

The world number one will, however, be able to tap into some insider's knowledge as his caddie, Ricky Elliott, is a Portrush native.

Behind McIlroy and Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm are the next in line at 12/1 and 14/1 respectively. The former finished second at The Open in 2011 and was a runner-up at The Masters earlier this year, while Rahm won the Irish Open earlier this month.

Brooks Koepka, The Open Championship
Brooks Koepka of the United States looks over a putt on the 13th green during the second round of the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities on July 5 in Blaine, Minnesota. Michael Reaves/Getty

At 16/1, Tiger Woods is just behind Rahm. The 43-year-old brought an end to his 11-year wait for a major when he triumphed at Augusta in April, but missed the cut at the PGA Championship and finished 21st at the U.S. Open.

At Portrush, Woods could have to contend with damp weather conditions to which he is notoriously averse. The Open will be his first competitive outing since Pebble Beach, but the 15-time major winner dismissed suggestions he might be slightly undercooked.

"The break is always great for my golf, especially now," Woods told reporters on Sunday. "I told you guys last year I wouldn't be playing as much this year and it's going to turn out that way.

"I do the same thing. I start from the green back. I putt, chip, pitch, short irons, mid-irons, long irons, woods. And then I eventually play. Nothing has changed. The only difference is that certain days I can do more than others."

Defending champion Francesco Molinari finds himself in a similar situation. The Italian, looks to become the first man to defend the title since Padraig Harrington won back-to-back Open Championship titles in 2007 and 2008, has played just once since the U.S. Open and is a 20/1 outsider to retain the title.

British Open 2019 Odds: Who Is Favorite to Win at Portrush This Weekend? | Sports