Wednesday, July 19, 2006

British Open Picks

The British Open golf championship begins tomorrow at the little known Royal Liverpool Golf Club. The last time an Open was contested at Liverpool was almost 40 years ago, so most of the players are unfamiliar with this links course. One of the great elements of Open golf is the unpredictable weather. Sometimes it is calm, but most of the time the wind blows fiercely with squalls always a possibility.

Here is my analysis of some contenders along with my pick to be the Champion Golfer of the Year:

Tim Clark: This guy is tough as nails and he was the runner up at the Masters. Good chipping is a must at the Open, and that exposes perhaps Clark's only true weakness. He always plays well on tough courses, and being short never hurts in the wind - top 30 finish.

Fred Couples: Dude always plays well in the Open, and his iffy back should be rested. The long putter has helped him lag the long ones close, a must on the big greens this weekend. He will not contend on Sunday, but he will have another solid tournament - top 25 finish.

Vijay Singh: His pure ball striking and the lowered pressure on his putting (due to slower greens) make this tourney seem like a natural for Singh. However, his game has dropped a bit, and I do not look for a great finish - top 30.

Retief Goosen: Retief has the game and demeanor to add to his two US Open wins. He has the power to handle the course's length, and he has the determination to handle bad weather if it arrives. He could definitely contend, but I think he settles for a top 10 finish.

Phil Mickelson: This has traditionally been the weakest major for Phil, and his meltdown at last month's US Open has to still be in his mind. Liverpool is a more demanding course off the tee than most Open courses, so I think this will be a disappointing tourney for Phil - out of the top 25.

Jim Furyk: America's steadiest player this year will have a good tournament. He drives the ball straight and putts great. He has the grit to handle weather and pressure - top 8 finish.

Ernie Els: Traditionally Ernie's best major. It's fitting, too, as Ernie is a globe trotting golfer and the Open is the world's biggest golf tournament outside of the U.S. If Ernie can get off to a good start, he gets a top 5 finish.

Tiger Woods: On an unknown course, Tiger gets an edge with the best brain in the game. He is motivated to play well in memory of his father and after the worst major of his pro career. Blend in a chance to defend last year's title and let the world know he is back, and Tiger gets his 14th major title.


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