124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

Royal Liverpool

British Open 2023: How badly each of the 156 players at Royal Liverpool needs to win the claret jug


Stuart Franklin/R&A

July 19, 2023

HOYLAKE, England — Every year, at every major, we hear the same sentence time and again, and it's usually applied to multiple players:

"He really needs to win this."

Whether it's for legacy or something more immediately practical, the urgent imperative to win is everywhere among the heightened stakes of a major. The truth, of course, is that only one person can win, and probably even that person doesn't need to win. But dampening the excitement is the opposite of what we want—here, and now, we want to engage in the mad exercise of determining not just who needs this, but exactly how much they need it. So let's go through all 156 players in this year's field, starting at the bottom and working our way up to the most desperate of the desperate.

The Need-To-Win Scale

*Each number represents how badly the player needs to win, with 1 being lowest and 10 highest

0.0: Here's how little I need this: I qualified, but I'm not even playing

Ben Curtis, David Duval, Todd Hamilton, Michael Hendry, Paul Lawrie, Justin Leonard

0.2: I'm literally Tiger Woods, and even if I could play … I'm literally Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

0.4: Can't be here due to injury, but I'm still young and awesome enough that I wouldn't need it anyway

Will Zalatoris

0.6: I'm an old guy who has won majors before, I'm definitely not winning this year, and I really don't need to win

Ernie Els, John Daly, Darren Clarke

0.8: I'm an older guy who has won two majors on the two most famous courses in the world, and everything I do after this as a player is gravy, plus I'm thinking of the Ryder Cup nonstop

Zach Johnson

1.0: I'm an older guy who shouldn't be contending, but one day karma may do to me what I did to Tom Watson, so I'm keeping both eyes open

Stewart Cink

1.2: I'm an older guy who has won majors before, I probably won't win this year, but I absolutely believe I can win this year and the more you doubt me, the more I'm going to stun the hell out of people because I've still got game

Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington

1.4: My name is "Nacho Elvira" and I am so blessed in the name department that I will never need another thing in life

Nacho Elvira

1.6: I'm an amateur, and it has been more than 90 years since an amateur won a major, so I'll be just fine not winning (though it would be cool to become the next Michael Block)

Jose Luis Ballester Barrio, Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira, Christo Lamprecht, Alex Maguire, Harrison Crowe

1.8: I'm an amateur, but my name is "Tiger," so it would be great to win and maybe cut down on the number of jokes

Tiger Christensen

2.0: I was the No. 1 amateur, but now I'm a pro, because hey, maybe I'll win some money. Do I need this? Hell no

Keita Nakajima

2.2: I qualified to get in this thing, you've probably never heard of me, and I'm ridiculously happy just to be here. "Need" doesn't enter into it

Michael Stewart, Marco Penge, Connor McKinney, Graeme Robertson, Martin Rohwer, Laurie Canter, Brandon Thompson Robinson, Oliver Farr, Matthew Jordan, Kyle Barker, Gunnar Wiebe, Haydn Baron, Kensei Hirata, Lee Hodges, Kazuki Yasumori, Seungsu Han, Kyung-nam Kang, Daniel Hillier, Takumi Kanaya, Taichi Kho, Bio Kim, Kalle Samooja

2.4: I qualified to get in this thing, you might have heard of me, but I'm still just delighted to be around

Antoine Rozner, Jazz Janewattananond, Alex Fitzpatrick

2.6: I don't even have a Wikipedia page yet, I got here by winning something obscure, and I could shoot 95 four times and still be pleased as peach

Zack Fischer, David Micheluzzi, Taiga Semikawa

2.8: I won a minor league Order of Merit, I barely have a Wikipedia page, and yes, I'm also pleased as peach

Ockie Strydom

3.0: We're here because we're big in Japan. That's enough, for the moment

Rikuya Hoshino, Kazuki Higa, Hiroshi Iwata

3.2: I am ridiculously young, and you have no idea if I'm going to be amazing or nonexistent in 10, 20 or 30 years, but for now I'm just loving life

Min Woo Lee, Dan Bradbury

3.4: I'm on the older side, but not so old that it would absolutely stun you if I won … but there's also absolutely no reason to think I'll win, and that's OK

Henrik Stenson, Louis Oosthuizen, Francesco Molinari, Charl Schwartzel

3.6: I'm not very old, but I won a major a while ago, haven't done a lot since, and have pretty much ticked off what I need to tick off on my career résumé even though I don't consider myself dead and gone

Gary Woodland, Danny Willett, Shane Lowry

3.8: I'm a cool-looking Finnish dude existing on the periphery of the Euro Tour, there is nothing in life that I need

Sami Valimaki

4.0: I'm on the older side, I came out of nowhere, it would be really good to win but probably my big moment is gone, brief as it was, and it'd be a little greedy to ask for more

Richard Bland

4.2: I'm in the House Money Club, it would be sweet but my success is so fresh that I truly can't ask for it … yet. But what's annoying to the rest of you is that yes, I can absolutely win again

Matt Fitzpatrick, Wyndham Clark, Cameron Smith

4.4: Same, but I also might be a generational talent who is ambitious and driven enough to never, ever rest on my own laurels, even though I have two majors at age 2

Jon Rahm

4.6: Same as above, except I already have five (!) majors, I'm back into elite form, and despite the fact that I should be in "house money" mode, I'm ravenous and completely terrifying

Brooks Koepka

4.8: Same as above except younger, with the caveat that I've struggled enough recently to at least need a good, confidence-restoring finish

Collin Morikawa

5.0: I'm part of the 30-and-older European crew that you've used to fill the last spot in your fantasy team at this tournament for years, and since the Open Championship is almost definitely the only major I have a prayer of winning, sure, I'll stake a(n extremely weak) claim to needing this

Marc Warren, Matt Wallace, Joost Luiten, Richie Ramsay, Matthew Southgate, Adrian Otaegui, Thomas DeTry, Pablo Larrazabal, Alexander Bjork, Alejandro Canizares, Marcel Siem, David Lingmerth, Jorge Campillo, Oliver Wilson

5.2: I'm part of the B-Tier 30-and-younger European crew, a generation that seemingly respawns once every seven years or so, and there's about a 20/80 chance as to whether I become a great player or you can't remember my name in five years.

Ewen Ferguson, Jordan Smith, Callum Shankwin, Adri Arnaus, Connor Syme, Hurly Long

5.4: I'm part of the A-Tier 30-and-younger European crew, a generation that seemingly respawns once every seven years or so, and there's about a 50/50 chance as to whether I become a great player or you can't remember my name in five years.

Yannik Paul, Guido Migliozzi, Nicolai Hojgaard, Rasmus Hojgaard, Romain Langesque

5.6: I'm of the same vintage as the group above, but I'm not European … except I somehow have the most extremely English name of anybody in the entire field

Thriston Lawrence

5.8: Same, but not European

Lucas Herbert, Travis Smyth, Christian Bezuidenhout, Shubhankar Sharma

6.0: You should have heard of me by now, but if you haven't, believe me, you're going to know me after the next Ryder Cup, and though I may not be major-ready yet, I can at least hope that I get a solid crack at one in the next 10 years

Adrion Meronk, Robert MacIntyre, Victor Perez

6.2: I'm a young, talented American who still needs maybe two years before I'm considered ready for this, and if I finish in the top 10 I'll do a series of 40 straight backflips

Sahith Theegala, Ben Griffin

6.4: I belong to the forgotten group of "world" golfers who are intermittently very good, but constantly being ignored by American and European golf media, but who could change everything with one great week

Ryan Fox, Emiliano Grillo, KH Lee

6.6: Look, I probably should have won more than just one major at this point, I get it, and I'm still playing well enough to win, but I don't really need it except that yes, I want it as badly as anything in the world

Jason Day, Adam Scott, Justin Rose

6.8: I have a major and it intermittently seems like I'm still an elite golfer, so I think things are fine and I don't need this quite yet … I think

Bryson DeChambeau, Hideki Matsuyama

7.0: I probably missed my chance, and that is heartbreaking in its own way, but I'm still here and in my mind I need this a lot

Branden Grace, Billy Horschel, Alex Noren, Thorbjorn Olesen, Joaquin Niemann

7.2: I'm a PGA Tour player older than 30, borderline journeyman, went to Georgia, and you wouldn't expect me to win a major, but it's absolutely possible, and all it takes is one good week for me to totally redefine my legacy so please, golf gods, let me win one of these things

Brian Harman, Russell Henley, Brendon Todd, Chris Kirk

7.4: Same as 7.0, to the letter, except that I didn't go to Georgia

Scott Stallings, Adam Schenk, Andrew Putnam, J.T. Poston, Trey Mullinax, Denny McCarthy, Michael Kim, Tom Hoge, Si Woo Kim, Kurt Kitayama, Seamus Power, Taylor Moore

7.6: Same as 7.0, to the letter, except that I'm Canadian

Nick Taylor, Corey Conners

7.8: Same as 7.0, to the letter, except that I'm just a little bit better (but I still went to Georgia)

Harris English, Sepp Straka

8.0: I've been playing on LIV for a while, so you haven't heard about me as much, but I am still a very good golfer and a win would validate me, my league, and basically give the finger to everyone who ever doubted me

Talor Gooch, Patrick Reed, Dustin Johnson, Thomas Pieters, Abraham Ancer

8.2: I'm young, extremely good, and though it's probbbbbably not my time yet, I could get a massive jump on the expectations coming down the road and basically redefine how everyone thinks of me

Tom Kim, Sam Burns, Cameron Young

8.4: You didn't expect this, but I'm playing very well suddenly, and even though I've won a major everyone puts an asterisk on it because of my anchored putter, and it would be so, so sweet to win another, plus I'd make the Ryder Cup, plus …

Keegan Bradley

8.6: I've been wildly successful and I just won a major last year, so why does it always feel like I'm somehow underachieving and need more, more, more?

Justin Thomas

8.8: I'm good enough to be right on the border of "deserving" to have a major already, in terms of my skill, and with time marching on, yes, you better believe I need it soon

Tyrrell Hatton, Max Homa, Tommy Fleetwood

9.0: I'm so obscenely good and accomplished at a young age that even though nobody will bat an eye if I don't win, it still seems like I should have at least two majors by now

Scottie Scheffler

9.2: You're not going to believe that I'm just 25 years old. You're 100 percent going to look that up after you read this, because you don't believe me.

Sungjae Im

9.4: Thank God for Rory McIlroy, because if he didn't exist, I would be him. Also, asking for a friend, but is it true that if you don't use it, you lose it

Jordan Spieth

9.6: I can still loosely hold on to the idea that I'm "young," but I'm so that each passing major I don't win becomes more and more glaring … in short, oh yeah, I need this

Viktor Hovland

9.8: The time has come. Dear golf gods in the heavens above, the time has come, and gone, and come again, and please for the love of all that's meaningful, please let me win

Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau

10.0: Would it help if I begged? Because I'll beg. I'm pretty much out of ideas here

Rory McIlroy

• • •

Is it the British Open or the Open Championship? The name of the final men’s major of the golf season is a subject of continued discussion. The event’s official name, as explained in this op-ed by former R&A chairman Ian Pattinson, is the Open Championship. But since many United States golf fans continue to refer to it as the British Open, and search news around the event accordingly, Golf Digest continues to utilize both names in its coverage.

• • •