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Jul
15
2012

2012 British Open Preview: The Top 10 Contenders.

We are doing something a little different for our major golf preview this time. Rather than me listing the top 10 contenders, we have a special guest write Johnny Hasson who gave his top 5 picks for this year’s British Open. At the end of piece I’ll give you 5 more golfers than can win this year’s 3rd major.

Here’s Johnny’s portion.

The Open Golf Championship kicks off soon, in its traditional spot of the 3rd Thursday of July. The British Open, now in its 141st year, is being played at Royal Lythan and St Annes for the 1st time since David Duval shot 65, 67 on the weekend to win by 3 shots.

Predicting the winner of a golf Major has become seemingly an impossible task, with the last 9 major winners being first-timers. Specifically in The Open, 8 out of 12 champions this century have been first time winners.

Despite this, there will be some clear favorites in the betting markets. Here I pick out 5 of my top tips:

Tiger Woods
It would seem frivolous to start our list with anyone else other than Tiger. He bucks the trend of 1st time major winners, having been victorious on 3 separate occasions in the last 12 Open Championships (2000, 2005 2006). It was only a year ago that Tiger was written off as a golfing force but he has played some of his best ever golf this season on the way to 3 victories so far and over $4m in the bag. Woods is sure to lead the betting stakes and nobody would be surprised if he lifts his 4th Claret Jug.

Ross Fisher
Despite the dominance of the English in the world rankings, it has been a long time since Nick Faldo, the last English major winner, won the last of his 3 Open titles in 1993. Whilst most people will be tipping Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, Fisher is an excellent outside bet. Despite not having won an event for almost 2 years, Fisher is probably the most in-form player on the European Tour with four consecutive top-10 finishes on the bounce including a second place finish at the Nordea Masters a few weeks ago

Luke Donald
Donald’s game is more suited to this Major than any other. With the course playing reasonably short for a major and with only two par 5’s, Donald’s lack of length and ability to birdie par 3’s and 4’s should really work as an advantage. As sand is Royal Lytham’s biggest and best defense, it is also worth noting that Donald has excellent sand-save statistics on both the PGA and European tour. Mr. consistent over the last few years, few would argue that Donald would be a deserving 1st time (remember that stat?) Major winner.

Rickie Fowler
If one of the young crop of American stars is going to snatch victory here, my money would be on Fowler. Although he has only played two Open Championships he has performed well in both. He is accurate off the tee and his ‘feel’ swing is ideally set up to make him the latest in a long line of Americans to become at home on a links course.

Tom Lehman
The golden oldies have performed really well at the Open in recent years, where the lack of distance is not a handicap. Tom Watson came famously close to victory in 2009 at the age of 59, and Darren Clarke, although not so old, came out of nowhere and won at age 43 last time round. Lehman, an open winner on this course in 1996 has good recent form in this championship with 2 top-25 finishes in the last 2 years. Currently lying 2nd on the Champions Tour money list, Lehman is playing some of the best golf of his career.

Johnny Hasson is a full-time sports addict who likes nothing more than betting on the big sporting events. Next week he will be glued in front of the television for 4 straight days watching the golf. When the competitors are sleeping, Johhny will be found playing blackjack online at Smart Live Casino.

We have Johnny’s picks, now we’ll go with 5 more that I think can win the event…

Ernie Els

Johnny had Tom Lehman as his veteren contender, but keep an eye on Ernie Els. He’s a former British Open Champion (2002) and from 2000-2009 had 8 top 10 British Open finishes. He’s coming off a 9th place finish in last month’s U.S Open. He nearly won the 2001 Open Championship held at Royal Lytham and St. Annes finishing 3rd.

Phil Mickelson

Mickelson can contend at any event he enters. His high ball flight has hampered him in past British Opens, but last year’s tie for second proved Mickelson can play the links style of golf. He’s been up and down this season. He’s missed a couple of cuts but has a number of top 10 finishes. This past week in the Scottish Open he had middle rounds of 64 and 65 before fading in round 4. His game is showing signs of coming around. Mickelson is simply too talented to discount.

Lee Westwood

Ah Lee Westwood, with all do respect to Luke Donald the world’s best player without a major is Westwood. In 2 majors this year, he had 2 more top 10 finishes. That’s 9 top 10 Major finishes since 2008, and 14 for his career without a major. He’s the world’s 3rd ranked player and hails from England. You know he’d just love add a British Open to his resume. With Westwood it’s not his game that’s a problem, it’s between his ears. If he gets into a contention on Sunday can he close the deal?

Rory Mcilory  

The young Mcilory is such a gifted player with a major title already to his name, but after a red hot start to the season, he’s cooled off. Form Northern Ireland, Mcilory is very familiar with links golf. If weather goes south, and Mcilory is in the middle of it I don’t like his chances. He’s stated in the past that he’s not a fan of bad weather golf, but like Mickelson he’s a contender anytime he tees it up.

Graeme Mcdowell

Do you need a grinder? Graeme Mcdowell is your man. The former U.S Open winner (2010) is also from North Ireland, and nearly won this year’s U.S Open. Here’s a prediction he’s going to be this decade’s Jim Furyk. The player you usually forget about, and that may not have the natural talent of some others, but he finds ways to contend in major after major.


3 comments

4 pings

  1. Gail says:

    Here are my picks for the top three. No.1-Tiger, No.2- Ernie Els, No.3- Steve Stricker. Phil won’t even come close. It will surprise me if he even makes the cut. Phil is washed up.

  2. Jfann says:

    I agree Phil is past his prime, but he’s more than proven he can stil contend at majors. He has 2 top 2 finishes in his last 4 big ones including last year’s British Open.

  3. Johhny Hasson says:

    Gail – Tiger will certainly be favorite and if he plots his way around the course using irons off the tee (like he did at St Andrews) then it is hard to look past him. The main thing is staying out of the rough and the bunkers. It does look set up for Westwood to challenge…

    Also, good shout on Ernie – coming into form again this year.

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