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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My 5 for the Open Championship

(A quick link: This Friday -- July 19 -- is the Macmillan Longest Day Golf Challenge, which raises money to fight cancer in the UK. Here's a link to a story on about the charity event if you're interested in participating or sponsoring.)

Yes, the Open Championship is finally here! And it's time to pick the 5 players I've decided make the most interesting choices.

This was a hard one for me because I think a lot of players could pull this win off. For example, I like Ernie Els to pull off the "double defense" as the winner of last year's Open as well as the last Open held at Muirfield... but I didn't pick him.

Likewise, I think Rory McIlroy has a decent chance to get his act together this week and win his first Open... but I didn't pick him either.

As usual, I have picked a mixture of favorites and long shots. First, from the favorites:
  • Tiger Woods. It's hard not to believe Tiger has a chance on a course where he probably won't even need his driver. I'm still a bit concerned about that elbow -- while he says it's okay right now, four days spent smacking hard links fairways with irons isn't likely to help it stay that way. Still, I think the combination of a hard course playing short and playing shots along the ground will play into his wheelhouse.
  • Phil Mickelson. Phil has already proven that, yes he can play real links courses under real links conditions. He's in a good frame of mind after the win at the Scottish Open last week, and I won't be surprised at all if he pulls off back-to-back wins.
  • Graeme McDowell. I'm predicting this may be one of his "win" weeks. At any rate, I don't expect him to miss the cut, and his last 8 tournaments say that if he makes the cut, he'll likely win.
Now for my long shots. I put a lot of thought into these two:
  • Jordan Spieth. I know, I know. It's his first Open... but he has Walker Cup experience on links courses. He won just last week... but if Phil thinks he can do it (he's done it before, after all) then I don't see why Jordan can't do it as well. In addition, he's played more consistently than almost anybody else at the Open. Jordan Spieth ROCKS!
  • Fred Couples. Yes, a VERY dark horse indeed. Freddie hasn't even played many Opens lately -- not since 2006, when he missed the cut. But when he HAS played in the Open, he's had lots of Top10s, including a T3 in 2005 (the last time he made the cut). And he's playing really well this year on the Champions Tour... I don't know. But I have to believe there's a reason he decided to play THIS year.
So there you have it -- my unfailingly accurate picks for Open Championship domination. Remember that ESPN will carry all four rounds, starting at 4am ET Thursday morning. Here's the complete listing for ESPN's various Open broadcasts this week, as well as other pertinent info. I, for one, am thrilled to know that Ian McShane will be doing voice-overs again. (I've been a fan of his since his days on Lovejoy.)

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