The Open Championship (aka British Open) is this week and it marks that third major championship of the year for golf. It is one of my favorite tournaments of the year. Ever since I can remember, I loved waking up early and turning on the Open Championship and watching golf all morning. The Open this year is being played at Royal Troon. I do not know that much about the golf course, at least as much as Augusta and Oakmont. The last time the British Open was played here is 2004. What I do know is that the front nine usually plays downwind and the back nine plays back into the wind meaning the front plays pretty easy but the back can play incredibly tough. That combined with the harsh weather this week should make for a truly classic Open. There are many groupings that should be fun to watch this week. Some of my favorites when I look at the tee sheet include the groupings of Rory/Bubba/Matsuyama, Fowler/Day/Willet, and Mickelson/Westwood/Els. There are many more great groups and the field is arguably the best in golf. Looking at this field to choose a top 10 is tough, especially when 4 of the last 5 winners at Royal Troon (except being Tom Watson) have won their first (and only) majors. But looking at the previous decade, a majority of the Open winners have been multiple major championships (Mickelson, Els, ZJ, or Rory) or have had a wealth of experience (Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington). It is tough to pin point exactly what kind of golfer we can expect to see win this week but I will give it a go.
Here are my Top 10 golfers going into this week including my pick to win the Claret Jug:
10. Zach Johnson: Last year’s champion has not won since lifting the Claret Jug at St Andrews a year ago but has shown great form of late, including top 10’s at the US Open and WGC Bridgestone. Links style golf sets up well for his low and controlled ball flight. Last 4 Open’s include a win, a T-47th, T-6th, T-9th.
9. Andy Sullivan: Not many Americans know a lot if anything about him but he has slowly become one of Europe’s top players. He is 36th in the world and has not finished lower than T-23rd in his last 5 start. He has posted a T-5th finish and a T-6th finish in his last two. He finished T-30 in his only start at The Open last year and really has the game to surprise a lot of people.
8. Martin Kaymer: The two time major champion has been playing well of late including a T-13th finish at the Scottish Open last week. He hasn’t missed a cut since March and he has the experience and the game to conquer Royal Troon.
7. Patrick Reed: Patrick Reed returned to Scotland for the first time last week since last year’s Ryder Cup and posted a T-10th finish. He seems to like links style golf and finished T-20th in last year’s Open. He looks to build of those performances and quiet the doubters to win his first major.
(via USA Today)
6. Sergio Garcia: Sergio is still seeking that elusive first major after letting yet another opportunity slip way at Oakmont last month. He is playing well of late including four top-5 finishes in his last five events. Royal Troon calls for accuracy and shotmaking, something Sergio does well. He has had the most success at The Open than any of the other majors. He is due at some point to break through and win. If there is a place to get his first major and end this drought, this is it.
5. Rory McIlroy: After a disappointing missed cut at the U.S. Open, Rory responded by finishing 3rd at the Open de France a couple weeks later. The 2014 Open champion will look to capture his first major in almost two years. Has the game to excel at links golf, if he can show up mentally and have a average week putting then he should be hoisting the trophy but that is a big if.
4. Jordan Spieth: After last years Grand Slam hopes came to an end at The Open when he finished a shot outside the playoff, Spieth is primed to win his first Open this week. He loves to keep the ball low and has a very penetrating ball flight. Players will get a lot birdie chances from 15-20 feet this week and no one is better at converting those than this man.
3. Jason Day: The worlds number one golfer comes to Royal Troon after a heartbreaking loss in Akron. He lost the lead late Sunday and ended up relinquishing the victory to DJ. He is seeking his second major of his career and finished a shot outside last years playoff at St. Andrews but The Open is has been his worst major results wise since he turned pro.
2. Dustin Johnson: Just mashing the ball of the tee and he is in complete control with his irons. He has won his last two starts and is the best player in the world right now but no one has won The Open Championship after winning the U.S. Open since 2000, when Tiger took home 3 majors that year.
1. Adam Scott: He played well at Oakmont and in Akron. Tee to green there are very few, if any, better than he is. He has placed in the top 10 in his previous 4 Open’s. He is looking to win his second major and redeem himself after he gave the 2012 Open Championship away late Sunday. He seems to enjoy the challenge that this tournament provides and his game is well suited for it. I beleive Adam will get it done in the tough conditions this weekend and lift the Claret Jug come Sunday (or Monday if there is a a weather delay).