The British Open Championship is this weekend at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, and even though Tiger Woods has come out and said he believes he can win the tournament, there are still many other golfers to watch besides Tiger, and here are just nine of them. There are a number of golfers coming into the third major championship of the calendar year who are on form, and there are a number of players that have not been golfing exceptionally well, but are traditionally consistent on links courses.
Justin Rose won the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen last week by two shots over Broberg Kristopher. He also won the Quicken Loans at Congressional back in the end of June. He definitely has the confidence coming into the British Open this week, but he has not played particularly well at Open Championships in the past. He has actually missed the cut the past two years. His best finish as a professional is a tie for twelfth back in 2007, but he did finish tied for fourth back in 1998 as the low amateur of the tournament.
Rory McIlroy being from Northern Ireland is used to playing links courses and had three good rounds of golf last week at the Scottish Open. As usual this year, he had a horrible second round on Friday, shooting a seven over 78, which kept him out of contention heading into Sunday’s final round. Rory’s best finish in a British Open Championship is a tie for third in 2010, but he did miss the cut last year. He will need to be consistent all four round if he wants to win his first Claret Jug.
Phil Mickelson is the defending British Open Champion. He had good form going into the tournament last year, winning the Scottish Open the week before, just as Justin Rose has this year. Mickelson had a decent finish at this year’s Scottish Open, finishing tied for eleventh, and shooting a final round 65. Phil changed his game to suit links’ courses last year, instead of forcing his own game on to the course. He decision ended up with a win, and if he can keep his head down, and hit his long irons well, then he has a good chance to defend his title.
Another of the nine golfer besides Tiger Woods to watch at the British Open Championship is Rickie Fowler. The 25 year old has yet to win a major championship in his career, but has finished in the top five at the Masters and the U.S. Open this year, so he is most definitely knocking on the door. He also has a top five finish at the British back in 2011, when he finished even par at Royal St. George’s Golf Club.
Graham McDowell is coming off a win at the French Open two weeks ago, his second in a row at the tournament, so his form should be good coming into the British Open. The Northern Irishman shot a four under 67 in the pouring rain on the final round of this year’s French Open to win by one. With rain and wind in the forecast during the tournament, McDowell may be able to sneak ahead of some of his competitors in conditions his game is better suited to. He has a top five finish in the Open Championship back in 2012, which will give him further confidence heading into the opening round on Thursday.
Sergio Garcia has 18 top-ten finishes in major championships, seven of them coming in The British Open Championship, but has yet to win a major. In 2006 he played in the final round with Tiger Woods at Royal Liverpool, where this years tournament is being played, but ended up shooting a 73 to finish in fifth. He shot a 65 on Saturday though, which will give him confidence heading into the tournament knowing he has the ability post a number on the course. Garcia has six top-ten finishes on the PGA Tour this year and his putting is finally catching up to his superb ball striking. This could finally be Sergio’s year to win a major.
Martin Kaymer only has one top-ten finish in the British Open, but he won this year’s U.S. Open in June and The Player’s Championship in May, which many consider the fifth major. If he were to win The Open Championship, he would join an elite club of six other players, including Tiger Woods, who won the U.S. and British in the same year. He is playing well in big tournaments this year, so do not count the German out, who will be trying to conjure some of the national spirit from his country’s World Cup win.
Adam Scott is playing very well the past few years, earning him the right to be the number one ranked player in the world. He has four wins in his last 18 starts on the PGA Tour, and in the past two British Open Championships he has two top-three finishes. He is an amazing ball striker and has said looks forward to using his two-iron off the tee a lot at Royal Liverpool, where he finished tied for eight back in 2006. Adam also has the advantage of having Stevie Williams on his bag this week. Williams used to be Tiger Wood’s caddie and was on the bag when Tiger won The British Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in 2006. Scott is the third favorite player at 16-1 odds according to CBS Sports. Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose are both favorites at 14-1 odds.
Last, but certainly not least, this year’s United States Ryder Cup Team Captain and five-time champion of The British Open Championship, Tom Watson. He last won the tournament all the way back in 1983, but finished second in 2009. He needed a par on the 18th hole to win his sixth Claret Jug, but bogeyed and lost in a four-hole playoff to Stewart Cink.
Watson always plays well on links courses, and even if he is not in contention on the final round, he will likely make the cut and be able to keep an eye on his fellow Americans for the Ryder Cup in September. Tiger is one of those golfers Watson will be watching at The British Open Championship for a captain’s pick, but nine others besides Tiger Woods, are Phil Mickelson, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, Ryan Moore, Brandt Snedeker, Patrick Reed, Kevin Na, Hunter Mahan, and Steve Stricker, among others.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash