Our experts' British Open picks

Monday July 13th, 2009

If you're looking for guidance in your office pool, our experts are here to help with their British Open picks. Who do you like this week? Tell us in the comments area below.Connell Barrett, editor at large, Golf Magazine: My "If There's a Snow Day In Hell and Tiger Doesn't Win" pick: Sergio Garcia. He WILL win a major, and it will be a British. Open Champions must create shots—bending it high or low, bumping and running through humps and hollows—and El Nino is a Tiger-caliber shot-maker.  A bonus for Sergio: Turnberry's greens are fairly flat, compared to Augusta or other British venues; the less-tricky greens will take pressure off his creaky putter. Michael Walker Jr., senior editor, Golf Magazine: A healthy Tiger Woods is always the pick at any major, especially the British Open, which lets Tiger exercise the best part of his game: his mind. But if Tiger doesn't win, I really like Rory McIlroy. No one is more skeptical of the "next big thing" tag than other Tour pros, but even his fellow pros sense something different about Rory.  Recently, I asked Adam Scott about young Tour pros, and his eyes kind of glazed over until I mentioned Rory. "I'm excited to watch him play," Scott said. If Rory really is special, then winning at Turnberry would be a pretty sweet "Hello, world" moment.Alan Bastable, senior editor, Golf Magazine: Zach Johnson has been rock solid this season (six top 10s, a T2 last week, fourth on the
FedEx points list), which makes his performances at the ’09 majors hard to
explain (a second-round 80 sent him packing at Augusta, and he never looked
comfortable at Bethpage Black). I’m not sure what to make of that anomaly other
than to presume that Zach must be jonesing for a big week on a big-time stage. I'd be shocked if he finishes outside the top 20, and not a lick surprised if he
wins.   John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: How about this
for a sucker pick: Padraig Harrington for the hat trick. I know it's
crazy, because Paddy's sucked all season while working on his swing.
But he's just won the Irish PGA for the third straight time, and the
European Club is a classic links course with really thick rough,
exactly like Turnberry will be this week. Harrington himself doesn't
sound like a believer — he was very skeptical of his prospects despite
winning by seven shots — but Jack Nicklaus wasn't exactly puffing up
his chest when he showed up for the '86 Masters. So give me Paddy.Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I'm with John: I
like Paddy. My real pick — everyone's real pick, I would think — is
Tiger. If you were betting your own money, you'd take Tiger, right? Links golf — Open golf — is not for
everyone, and repeat winners are common: Harry Vardon, Peter Thomson,
Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tiger Woods, Padraig Harrington.Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: I like Martin Kaymer, who won this week at the Scottish Open on the European Tour. He's the best player across the pond right now.Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Kaymer is hot, but links golf is a different kettle of birds. That's why it is so hard to predict Open winners. Links golf requires more imagination and shotmaking. Tiger is the best
shotmaker in golf, by a mile. You have to like his chances every time
he tees it up, even more so in a major. I would not bet against him at
Turnberry, or at Hazeltine for the PGA.

Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I like Ian Poulter, who played well at Bethpage but, like Tiger
Woods, got the bad side of the weather draw. Poulter will have
strong support on these shores. He's wired for the big events. Played
well at Winged Foot in '06 and Birkdale in '08. Turnberry '09 will be his
time.Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I'll take Steve Stricker. He's the American Kaymer.Dick Friedman, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Just when you least expect it ... senors and senoritas, riding out of Spain to redeem his wayward season ... (trumpet flourish) ... Sergio!! Especially if conditions are such that driving is paramount. Brandt Snedeker (T2 this week, T5 last week) is also on a nice run.Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Definitely NOT Greg Norman. How about Ben Curtis? He does nothing to catch your eye, what with that funky Furyk-esque swing, except make lots of money, win once in a while and contend under insufferable pressure. Ben would become the Andy North of the British Open.Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: I'll take Lucas Glover, for no real reason other than the fact that he drives it well and he may as well win that Open, too.Jim Herre, editor, Sports Illustrated Golf Plus: I like the Stricker pick, but I'm going with Geoff Ogilvy. Seems like the dude would really want to earn this merit badge.Ryan Reiterman, producer, Golf.com: Look out for Lee Westwood. He's finished in the top 10 in the last two events, and he's been playing pretty solid for more than a year.

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