2013 British Open Preview: The Top 10 Contenders.

BritishOpenWe are headed into the 3rd major of the British Open. Typically this is the most wide-open of all the majors, because so much depends on the weather. The last two winners were 40 something veterans Ernie Els and Darren Clarke. Unknowns like Ben Curtis and Todd Hamilton have won in recent years, and of course all time players like Woods and Els are winners. Heck even Tom Watson nearly won in 2009. I do think experience with links golf can be advantage, and that is why the veteran golfers have had success at British Open recently.

The tournament heads to Muirfield where Ernie Els won 2002. Here’s your top 10 contenders.

1. Tiger Woods

I have a hard time picking anyone ahead of Woods, but he’s not an overwhelming favorite. He’s won 4 times this year and is the World’s number 1 player. Woods has also won 3 British Opens. He knows links golf. That said where is Woods with his health? He says the elbow is fine, but you never know with him. Woods is one of many guys that can this event, but he’s no lock.

All Sports Discussion Odds of Winning: 10 to 1

2. Justin Rose

Justin Rose? Why not Justin Rose? Rose was is coming off his first major win at the US Open, and is now ranked 3rd in the world. Rose burst onto the scene in 1998 when he finished T4 at that year’s British Open at Royal Birkdale. Surprisingly his results at the British Open have been pretty poor since then, but with the US Open win the pressure is off. The Englishman has a strong all-around game though he’s down the list on the putting statistics, but when has the British Open been about putting?

All Sports Discussion Odds of Winning: 12 to 1

3. Adam Scott

Adam Scott has become one of the world’s very best players. He now sits 4th in the world rankings. Last year it looked like he was going to win his first British Open before he faded down the stretch and ended up 2nd to Ernie Els. Scott has finished in top 15 in 6 of his last 7 majors. He has the tools to add his name alongside past Muirfield winners Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, and Ernie Els. Wow what a group of champions, since 1950.

All Sports Discussion Odds of Winning: 15 to 1

4. Luke Donald

This might be Luke Donald’s time for his first major. Donald has been a fixture in the World’s top 10 for several years. All that is lacking from the resume is that elusive first major. The Englishman has 3 top 15s in the last 4 British Opens, including 2 5th place finishes. While this season hasn’t been spectacular, he’s only had 1 PGA event where he ended up outside of the top 25.  Donald is not a long driver, but I don’t think that will be factor with the firm fast conditions expected. Donald will keep it in play, and it wouldn’t surprise me to his name on the leaderboard on Sunday.

All Sports Discussion odds of Winning: 20 to 1

5. Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson should be celebrating his 5th major title, but he let the US Open slip away back in June as Justin Rose took the title. Mickelson doesn’t have a brilliant British Open record. He only has 2 top 5 finishes in his entire career. He’s a high ball hitter, while the British Open usually requires a low ball with shots that chase up to the green. The fast conditions expected at Muirfield might work against him, but you can’t discount Mickelson. He rebounded from the US Open result, by winning the Scottish Open this week on a links course. hmmm….

All Sports Discussion Odds of Winning: 25 to 1

6. Matt Kuchar

The British Open has been good to former Georgia Tech golfers. David Duval won the major in 2001, and Stewart Cink won in 2009. Is Matt Kuchar next? Kuchar is having a strong 2013 season with 2 wins and 4 more top 10s. He won the Memorial played at Murifield Village in June. Is that a good omen for Kuchar? He had a top 10 in last year’s British Open. He’s one of the best bunker players in the world, and that could come in handy on those severe pot bunkers they have at the British Open.

All Sports Discussion odds of Winning: 30 to 1

7. Rory Mcilory

Mcilory raised on links golf is still the World’s Number 2 player, is still a 2 time major, and he’s still the most talented golfer on the planet this side of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, so why is he number 7 on this list? He has no wins this year. He’s ranked 93rd in driving accuracy. Is it the change to the Nike clubs, or just indifferent play? Who knows, but if Mcilory can get off to a good start and build some momentum early, he can contend.

All Sports Discussion odds of Winning: 35 to 1

8. Ernie Els

Ernie Els is not a darkhorse pick. He’s the defending British Open champion, and is a 2-Time winner of the event. Els is the only player in the field that has won at Murifield, and he has 13 top 10 finishes at the British Open. If he wins a 3rd British Open, I’d move him ahead of Tiger Woods as the best British Open player of this generation, and the best since Tom Watson. He’s coming off a top 5 finish at the US Open. Els is a real threat to win this week.

All Sports Discussion odds of Winning: 40 to 1

9.  Lee Westwood

It wouldn’t be right to have a top ten major contender list without Lee Westwood. Another season and a couple of more top 15 finishes in majors (Masters, US Open) without a title. 2 out of the last 4 years he’s had top 3 finishes at the British Open. Here’s a suggestion for Westwood if he hasn’t done so already. Call up Darren Clarke who finally won his first major at age 42, and had went 10 years without a top 10 major finish and pick his brain. Westwood with scar tissue? No Darren Clarke had scar tissue…

All Sports Discussion odds of Winning: 45 to 1

10. Jason Day

Jason Day has never finished in the top 25 of the British Open. There isn’t really any reason to think he has the links experience to win this week. So what’s to like about Day? He’s just shows up at majors. He already has 4 top 3 majors since 2011. Day has a wealth of talent, and despite being only 25 he has a ton of experience contending at majors. Day was a T2 at US Open this year, and he’ll eventually win a major… book it.

All Sports Discussion odds of Winning: 50 to 1

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