If you wanted a colossal indicator for the impact and anticipation of the return of The Open Championship to Northern Ireland, it's the first time in tournament history that it's been sold out. This is the 148th edition.
Royal Portrush is situated along the northern coast of Northern Ireland, about an hour from Belfast. It's a small town that's somewhat remote, but it's not the only like it in the Open rota.
How it's different is that it's hosted only once prior, in 1951 and before the unrest that divided Ireland. However, it served as the backdrop for two Amateur Championships (1960, 1993) and six Senior Open Championships (1995-1999, 2004).
Most recently, it hosted the 2012 Irish Open in which 26 of this week's qualifiers competed. This full-field Power Rankings cites results of each and identifies past champions, first-time participants and amateurs. Beneath the last grouping are notables who didn't commit, details on the course and more.
RANK PLAYER COMMENT 20 Tommy Fleetwood 19 Paul Casey 18 Eddie Pepperell 17 Tiger Woods 16 Webb Simpson 15 Marc Leishman 14 Francesco Molinari 13 Dustin Johnson 12 Gary Woodland 11 Patrick Cantlay 10 Rafa Cabrera Bello 9 Hideki Matsuyama 8 Jon Rahm 7 Xander Schauffele 6 Matt Kuchar 5 Henrik Stenson 4 Adam Scott 3 Justin Rose 2 Brooks Koepka 1 Rory McIlroy
Jason Day … There's zero question that he's fully equipped to conquer Royal Portrush, and he's 8-for-8 with a pair of top 20s in The Open, but he hasn't contended enough of late to warrant consideration in the Power Rankings proper. With only one top 20 in his last seven starts (T8, Travelers), including the last two majors, expectations are tempered for the 31-year-old Aussie.
Consider this grouping of 23 as a Power Rankings Plus. For various reasons, each golfer warrants attention as a threat, but each also stops short of cracking the top 20 and the Wild Card.
Ranked in order of Rob's confidence (* - former champion; 2012 Irish Open finish in parentheses)
Shane Lowry (T51)
Graeme McDowell (T16)
Thorbjørn Olesen (T18)
Keegan Bradley (MC)
Andy Sullivan (MC)
Hao Tong Li
Loosen the usual restraints on Sleepers in non-majors for 20 who won't surprise anyone paying attention if he contends.
Ranked in order of Rob's confidence (^ - debutant; 2012 Irish Open finish in parentheses)
Emiliano Grillo (T44)
Danny Willett (MC)
Erik van Rooyen
Paul Waring (T10)
Jorge Campillo (T44)
Branden Grace (MC)
Byeong Hun An
Eighty-nine golfers are split into the two subcategories below. Placement is relative to fit, form and other variables.
Listed alphabetically (* - former champion; ^ - debutant; # - amateur with World Amateur Golf Ranking in brackets; 2012 Irish Open finish in parentheses)
Richard Sterne (T44)
Dylan Frittelli (MC)
Benjamin Hebert (MC)
Robert Rock (65th)
Andrew Johnston (MC)
Miguel Angel Jiménez
^#James Sugrue 
^Andrea Pavan (MC)
^#Brandon Wu 
^Inn Choon Hwang
#Curtis Knipes 
Listed alphabetically (* - former champion; ^ - debutant; 2012 Irish Open finish in parentheses)
Joost Luiten (66th)
*Padraig Harrington (T7)
Si Woo Kim
*Darren Clarke (T39)
Matthew Baldwin (T44)
Chris Wood (MC)
*Paul Lawrie (T33)
The remaining amateurs who don't appear above are grouped here.
Listed alphabetically (with World Amateur Golf Ranking in brackets)
Takumi Kanaya 
Matthias Schmid 
Tom Thurloway 
NOTE: Kevin Chappell (back), John Daly (playing Barbasol Championship), Todd Hamilton (personal), Charles Howell III (personal), Ryan Moore (birth of third child), Kevin Na (neck), Scott Piercy (personal) and Charl Schwartzel (wrist) are among the notables who qualified but will not compete. Viktor Hovland also qualified as the 2018 U.S. Amateur champion, but he forfeited the exemption when he turned professional.
Royal Portrush is comprised of a pair of 18-hole courses – Dunluce Links and Valley Links. The former takes its name after nearby Dunluce Castle situated on a rock formation surrounded by water. It dates back to the 13th century.
Unlike the 2012 Irish Open when Royal Portrush stretched only 7,143 yards and played to a par of 72, thus surrendering Jamie Donaldson's winning aggregate of 18-under 270, it's laid out as a par 36-35—71 at 7,344 yards for The Open Championship. This is a major, after all. Two holes on Valley Links are borrowed for this week's layout.
The character of Royal Portrush is replete with the kind of elevation change that befits the best of links-style golf. There are only 62 bunkers, but the dunes may be in play for the most wayward drives, so get used to hearing references made to the marram grass that dots it. Your mind's eye might be more familiar with it as the wispy and at-times clumpy long grass most associated with emerging from sand.
Tight fairways challenge off the tee and eight doglegs await the field of 156, so there will be an omnipresence of risk-reward throughout the walk. Thankfully, the par-3 16th hole isn't a dogleg, but at 236 yards, you can understand the wink and the nod. "Calamity Corner," as it's known, demands a full carry. While wannabe winners can't count on circling a 2 on the card, the final two holes – both par 4s – are built for excitement and a suitable finish.
While Royal Portrush presents the best of stages, Mother Nature projects to deliver a quintessential performance of her own, which is to say that seasonable conditions are expected. Daytime temperatures will top out in the mid-60s, bet on rain to fall at some point (just don't guess when) and winds will challenge greatest early and late in the tournament.
When you put it all together, you're going to celebrate a winner who likely has experience in this arena and in these elements. He'll have managed his tee-to-green game with the kind of surgical precision deserving of The Open champion. He'll have remained patient putting on undulating greens peaking at maybe 10-and-a-half feet on the Stimpmeter. Confidence upon arrival is a given.
After the Claret Jug is claimed, look forward to a sooner return to Royal Portrush for there will be two more Open Championship contested on the gem by 2040.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
TUESDAY*: Power Rankings (Barbasol Championship), Fantasy Insider
WEDNESDAY: One & Done (The Open Championship), One & Done (Barbasol Championship)
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesdays.