The Open 2017: 28 Englishmen bid to win 146th Open on home soil

Alfie Plant
Alfie Plant qualified by winning the European Amateur Championship
2017 Open Championship on the BBC
Venue: Royal Birkdale Dates: 20-23 July
Live: Listen to BBC Radio 5 live commentary and follow text updates - including in-play video clips - on BBC Sport website and mobile app. TV highlights on BBC Two. Click for full times.

For the likes of Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and local favourite Tommy Fleetwood, the quest become to become England's first Open champion in 25 years is top of the agenda this week.

As for the rest of an impressively strong field of 28 Englishmen, some are just pleased to be here. Especially, the two amateurs.

Hampshire's Harry Ellis, from Meon Valley, near Southampton, the newly crowned British Amateur champion, and Alfie Plant, from Bexleyheath, Kent, who qualified by winning the European Amateur Championship at Walton Heath a couple of weeks back.

There are five other Open debutants, Manchester's Haydn McCullen, three Yorkshiremen - Joe Dean, Nick McCarthy and Adam Hodkinson - and Sussex's Toby Tree.

Joe Dean Emily Lyle
Joe Dean will be on the course with his girlfriend and caddie Emily Lyle

After the battle Tree had to get through Final Qualifying at Hollinwell earlier this month, being at Birkdale should be a comparative breeze.

"Those last seven holes were stressful," Tree, 23, from Horsham, told BBC Radio Sussex. "I dropped a few shots so had a nervous wait. That first tee shot on Thursday at Birkdale can't be anywhere as pressurised.

"I used to play football more than golf. Then I started playing with my dad and won the English Boys Under-14s and thought I must be half decent.

"I turned pro two and a half years ago now, having got to 11 in the world [as an amateur] but my pro career hasn't really lived up to the heights I expected. Maybe this could be a stepping stone."

Consolation prize for Shinkwin

One player who has been to an Open before is Moor Park's Callum Shinkwin, 24, who missed the cut on his debut a year ago at Royal Troon.

Last weekend, just a few miles inland in Ayrshire, he left a six-foot putt short when he could have won the Scottish Open at Dundonald, losing in a play-off to Rafa Cabrera-Bello.

But apart from banking 680,000 euros and a rise up the world ranking from 405 to 158, Shinkwin did have one big consolation prize - one of the three spare places in the field.

Callum Shinkwin
Callum Shinkwin (right) shares a light-hearted moment with official starter Alastair Scott at last week's Scottish Open

"It's all a learning curve," he said. "Of course I was nervous. But you have to have luck. I hit a great second shot which finished in a divot on a downslope of the bank above the bunker. I had no shot, really. It wasn't there for me. But the consolation is I'm in the Open now."

'I was almost crying in a Portaloo'

Bath's Laurie Canter is another who has been at an Open before, when he shot rounds of 89 and 71 at St Andrews in 2010 to miss the cut by 14 shots on 16 over par and finish second last.

"I remember having a moment on the Thursday," he told BBC Points West. "I went into a Portaloo and was almost crying in there. It was quite a tough experience that. But I look back on it more fondly now."

Canter was once close to making it in another sport, playing county tennis for Avon, with whom he was in a team that played against Andy Murray - although not on the same court. "That story has snowballed a little bit," he smiles.

Canter is now clearly moving in more exalted circles, having received coaching over in America four times this year from Jordan Spieth's coach, Texas-based Cam McCormick.

No English Open winner in 25 years

It was back in 1992 when Nick Faldo became the last Englishman to win the Open and 1969 when Tony Jacklin became the last Englishman to do it in England at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

When the now 60-year-old six-time major winner rolled up at Royal Birkdale this week for TV commentating duties, Sir Nick said he was "very surprised" no English golfers had won the tournament in a quarter of a century.

Nick Faldo
Nick Faldo beat John Cook by one stroke to win the 1992 Open at Muirfield

It is not as if the country has not produced good golfers in all that time.

Westwood, playing his 23rd-straight Open this week, Rose, Luke Donald, Paul Casey and Poulter have all been Ryder Cup regulars and up at the top of the world rankings.

Rose even won England's first major since Faldo's time, the US Open at Merion 2013.

But apart from runners-up spots for Poulter, at Birkdale in 2008, and Westwood, at St Andrews in 2010, the closest anyone has got were the three players who have finished just a shot shy of a play-off.

It happened first in 2002 at Muirfield to the little-known Gary Evans, also from Sussex.

Then again in 2009 at Turnberry, where both Westwood and Chris Wood narrowly missed the play-off between Tom Watson and the winner Stewart Cink.

Amateur hour for Rose & Wood at Birkdale

As the first Englishman to win a major title in 21 years, Rose's contribution to this country's golfing history is already assured. But it was at Royal Birkdale 15 years earlier when he first briefly took centre stage, as a 17-year-old amateur.

The chip he holed at the last for a birdie - and a tie for fourth place behind champion Mark O'Meara - is the stuff of Open folklore.

But he is not the only English amateur to have made headlines here. Chris Wood also won the Silver Medal here as top amateur 10 years later, tying for fifth, on 290 - eight strokes worse off than the four-round total recorded by Rose in 1998.

Had Rose, now England's top ranked golfer, the world number 14, compiled a four-round score of 282 again in 2008, incidentally, it would have won him the Open.

The 2008 champion Padraig Harrington's four-round score, in admittedly some fairly inclement weather conditions, was 283.

Royal Birkdale - an Open home since 1954

Royal Birkdale is one of only six golf courses in England to have staged the Open Championship - and the newest of the four currently on the rota.

Its famous iconic white clubhouse, built in the golden architectural age of Art Deco in 1935, first staged the annual event in 1954, when Australia's five-times Open winner Peter Thomson enjoyed the first of his two victories on the Southport course.

Art Deco clubhouse
Royal Birkdale is the newest of the four English courses currently on the Open Championship rota having held its first in 1954

This will be the 10th Open at Royal Birkdale with Royal St George's in Kent due to stage the tournament in 2020.

Royal Liverpool, Hoylake, on the Wirral Peninsula, last held it in 2014, while Royal Lytham St Annes, further up the Lancashire coast, last hosted it in 2012.

The other two courses to have staged the Open are both in Kent, close to Sandwich, Royal Cinque Ports (in 1909 and 1920) and Prince's (in 1932).

The 14 Englishmen who have won the Open

Only 28 of the previous 145 Open Championships have been won by an English golfer, with Jersey-born Harry Vardon's six titles the most, ahead of JH Taylor (five), and Henry Cotton and Faldo, who have both won three.

The fifth English player to win the crown more than once was Harold Hilton in 1892 and 1897.

English winners

Click here to view the full list of Open winners.

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