Tee Times | Weather Report
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Turn back the clock, because we're heading overseas to witness the way golf was played in its infant stage. It happens every year at the Open Championship, giving fans the opportunity to see low scores, extreme hazards and weather conditions that would make most of us not even consider heading out for a round.
That's the beautiful nostalgia of the Open Championship. Besides exchanging sticks and rocks for modern equipment, the oldest of the four major championships provides an old-school, back-to-our-roots presentation with a focus on the game, not its participants.
Royal St. George's Golf Club will be center stage. The weather will be showcased like a daunting stage set-up. The golfers will be the pit-band. It's what we've come to expect from the Open Championship, and this year will be no different.
The weather forecast for the opening tee-times will be a chilly 55 degrees, with light rain and 14 MPH wind gusts. In other words, it will be one small notch above miserable for the world's elite golfers. In other tournaments and sporting events, this kind of weather would make the event less appealing, but it only increases the drama and fascination for the Open Championship.
It's part of what makes the major so beloved. It's also part of what makes it such a maddening tournament for the golfers. Low temperatures and rain can be dealt with accordingly, but with all of the hazards - especially the crater sized bunkers with extreme slopes - the wind will wreak havoc on the field. Hit too high or just off line and you'd better pray for a soft landing or your ball is going in for a crash landing somewhere dangerous.
Navigate all that, for four days, and there's a good chance you'll be holding the Claret Jug when the tournament comes to a close on Sunday. The biggest question obviously is who has the best chance to put together four solid rounds of golf, so let's have a go at trying to figure that out...
Rory McIlroy is coming off a win at the US Open and an amazing three rounds at The Masters. His game seems to be peaking around the major championships in 2011... Phil Mickelson holds only one Top 10 finish at the Open Championship and has had a shaky 2011 thus far. The greatest golfers have always found a way to persevere, but the chips are stacked pretty high against Lefty... Lee Westwood is still chasing his first major championship win and plays well on links courses. The fact that people aren't really talking about him could be a good thing for his pysche this week... Graeme McDowell has been a popular pick to win tournaments in 2011, but has yet to do so on the PGA Tour. He came out of nowhere to win the US Open in 2010, so lower expectations could be positive for him... Luke Donald is the World's #1 ranked golfer so far this season and a major championship would solidify his status at the top. He's coming off a win at the Scottish Open, so momentum is on his side... Nick Watney and Matt Kuchar are America's best chance to end the major winless draught. With the USA women's soccer team heading to the final of the World Cup, perhaps karma is on their side (a stretch and not exactly a vote of confidence, but maybe?)...
After that brief preview of the status of some of the best golfers on Tour right now, that basically leaves back at square one because, let's be honest, favorites barely ever win. Since Tiger Woods stopped dominating the golf world, picking a winner has become the hardest thing to do on the face of the earth (that's what my stats say anyway). So, let's go a little deeper and check out what Vegas (Sportsbook.com) says about who's going to win this thing before a winner is picked...
Rory McIlroy, 5/1... Lee Westwood, 8/1... Luke Donald, The Field, 10/1... Martin Kaymer, 20/1... Phil Mickelson, 22/1... Sergio Garcia, Jason Day, Nick Watney, 25/1... Dustin Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Matt Kuchar, Steve Stricker, 30/1... Charl Schwartzel, Padraig Harrington, KJ Choi, Ian Poulter, Retief Goosen, Justin Rose, 40/1... Ernie Els, Matteo Manassero, Paul Casey, Adam Scott, 50/1...
All of the golfers covered in part 1 and many more are between 5/1 and 50/1 odds to win the Open Championship. There are many other plausible contenders outside that range as well (Zach Johnson, Angel Cabrera, Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, Brandt Snedeker, Geoff Ogilvy, Aaron Baddely, etc etc etc). What that really tells us is that the golf world is so even right now, you could pick a name out of a hat and have as good a chance as if you analyzed golf stats as a career.
It's that wide open and I don't expect any golfer to run away with it. It's going to come down to a battle on Sunday, and that's a good thing. I'll be taking the "picking out of a hat" routine here, mixed with a little bit of stat (and soul) searching to pick my winners. Here it goes...
1. Bubba Watson - I tweeted earlier in the week to a follower there's no way I'd pick Watson after what happened to him at the French Open a few weeks ago. Well, I changed my mind. I've got a good feeling about Bubba and I can't really tell you why.
2. Phil Mickelson - It's been such a rocky year for Phil in 2011 and in his career at the Open Championship, that I think it's got to turn around sometime... why not this weekend?
3. Rory McIlroy - You can't win em all, but he'll get close.
4. Adam Scott - Having Steve Williams on his bag only enhances the likelihood that Scott continues his stellar season.
5. Sergio Garcia - Hasn't won a major, but sure has played in a lot of them. Maybe he'll spit in the cup after losing another one.
6. Zach Johnson, 7. Lee Westwood, 8. Ernie Els, 9. Matt Kuchar, 10. Nick Watney
Open Championship Preview and Picks
Jul 13, 2011 10:23:48 PM
Tee Times | Weather Report
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