British Open picks
Will the Tiger of old emerge at St. Andrews and get his first win of the year? Or will another challenger deny him and raise the Claret jug? Golfweek's staff gives its picks for this weekend's British Open:
Winner: Justin Rose. In his last three PGA Tour starts, Rose has won twice and held the 63-hole lead in the other. He is in full flower, playing better than ever and anybody else at the moment. His confidence is soaring so high he could ride home on it to the UK.
Sleeper: Dustin Johnson. The par at the Old Course at St. Andrews is 72. I’m not sure what the par for the long-hitting Johnson might be. Perhaps 68, depending on wind? Johnson, who blew up after leading the U.S. Open by three after 54 holes, has the potential to dismantle the place. It’s just his second Open Championship, but he’ll love and fare well at the Old Course.
Winner: Tiger Woods. The guy finished fourth at the Masters and fourth at the U.S. Open, playing in essence nine good holes at the latter. Do we really believe his major victory needle is going to stick at 14? Really? He shoots under par at the Old Course in his sleep. I say the winless year ends in Scotland.
Sleeper: Davis Love III. Caught a break by getting in late, and he'll make the most of his trip across the pond. He's not playing his greatest right now, but there's something about playing golf at St. Andrews — and competing in one's 24th Open — that can stir the inner spirit.
Winner: Ernie Els. Yes, Tiger Woods has won twice at St. Andrews, but the best links player of his generation is the big man from South Africa. He owns one claret jug, probably should have two, and seems to be at home amid wind, sand dunes and firm, long-running sod that demands ball-striking brilliance.
Sleeper: Ian Poulter. He’s fallen to No. 61 in the Sagarin rankings, so this sounds like a steal, because the flashy Englishman has played very well in the big tournaments the last few years and appears poised for a huge breakthrough.
Winner: Angel Cabrera. The winner will not wear a green hat. The winner will not be Justin Rose. The winner will be Angel Cabrera. Golf needs another player besides Tiger Woods (are you listening, Phil?) to win three different majors. Cabrera is the man. He plays a lot like John Daly, who won at St. Andrews in 1995.
Sleeper: John Daly. Maybe he will be visited by the ghost of Old Tom Morris.
Winner: Rory McIlroy. Back-to-back major victories by Irishmen? Pour me a pint of Smithwick’s and put some Van Morrison on the jukebox.
Sleeper: Miguel Angel Jimenez. Coming off a victory in France and has placed in the top 13 in two of the last three Open Championships.