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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My "5 to Watch" for the Open

Gosh, there are so many players I think have a good chance this week at Royal Lytham & St. Annes... but I have to limit myself to only 5. So here goes:
  1. Tiger Woods: I have said all year that if Tiger kept improving as I expected, he would be my favorite. Well, he's not my favorite. I like where his full swing is but I'm a little unsure about his short game which is less consistent than I thought it would be. However, he's improved enough to make my "5 to Watch" list for the first time this year. The wet conditions may help him if his short game is off a little, and if it isn't... well, anything might happen. His experience also figures in; he has 3 Opens, you know.
  2. Rickie Fowler: Although he hasn't won a major, Rickie has won on two tours -- previous experience "across the pond" is important when playing an Open -- and played very well in last year's bad weather Open, as well as at the Ryder Cup. More importantly, Rickie enjoys the challenge of Open conditions. That fares well for him this week.
  3. Lee Westwood: Lee is one of my favorites this week. I like the relaxed attitude he seems to have at majors now; unlike Luke Donald, he seems to be learning how to get out of his own way. Despite the disparaging comments others have made about Lee's putting and short game, the vast number of wins he has "over there," combined with his good play in majors during the last three years or so and his great ballstriking, makes him a favorite. Like Tiger and Rickie, I think the poor conditions will work in his favor and his putter will be just fine.
  4. Francesco Molinari: This may seem like a strange pick, but I like how he's been playing. He nearly won the Scottish Open last week in challenging conditions, and his accuracy from tee to green combined with wet conditions should help him put the ball wherever he wants. Plus, although he hasn't won a major, he has won a WGC playing head-to-head with Lee Westwood so he's plenty tough. All he needs is for his putter to get hot and, given his play lately, that's entirely possible.
  5. Zach Johnson: Zach is my other favorite this week. He hasn't played that well at the Open, but sometimes it just takes a while to learn the links. He already has a Masters, he's won twice this year already and is playing well most of the other weeks, his putting and short game are sharp, and he's extremely accurate. But most importantly -- and this goes for Francesco as well -- normally you'd think that being relatively short with all his clubs would be a disadvantage. Not so this week. With the soft conditions, he won't have to worry about low-loft clubs coming in too hot and running out of control along the ground. And he has an advantage that Francesco doesn't have -- Zach already hits a low ball that should bore through the wind. Eliminate the fear of shots coming in too hot and he should actually have an advantage. Lee Trevino was also a short hitter with a low trajectory... and he won 2 Opens.
There are a number of other players I debated over -- Harrington, Rose, and Els among them. But I feel good about my picks, and I think we're going to have a surprise winner this week.


  1. hi,

    View from Europe, Molinari isn't a strange pick. he's second at the dubai race. In June, he finished 10th at the irish open, and 2 during two consecutive weeks (Open de France and Scottish). what a month !


  2. He probably sounds like a strange choice to my American readers, though. I've been following Francesco since sometime in 2009. He's one of my favorite European Tour players.