Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The British Open returns to Turnberry on Thursday, which means we'll likely see a deserving winner. This course has produced some of our greatest champions: Watson in 1977, Norman in 1986, and Price in 1994. That’s because Turnberry tests every part of a player's game. You won't see another Ben Curtis this year. And unless Tiger Woods wins, it's unlikely another American will.The links golf you see at the British Open is a different game. American golf is mostly played in the air, while links golf is largely on the ground. You need to make adjustments to play this style golf, and for most American players one week is not enough time to prepare. The international players are familiar with British Open-style courses—many of them grew up on them—and they're more capable of hitting a variety shots. Even American Todd Hamilton, the 2004 winner, had played on the international tours, where he got his Ph.D. in links golf.So who is lurking out there as the potential winner? Let's take a look.The FavoriteTiger Woods* is the overwhelming favorite to win. He's the smartest guy who's ever played and probably the best putter to play at a championship level. He's very versatile with his game so he has the flexibility that a lot of American players don't. For example, Phil Mickelson is great on a course that requires a high, soft shot, but he hasn't adapted to the British Open. Tiger's never been a one-trick pony. Plus, he knows how to play championship golf. He doesn't try to impose his will on a course; he takes what it gives him. That's a hard thing to do and it speaks to his patience and maturity.Brady's Odds to Win: Even*I made him a similar favorite at Bethpage, but the draw didn't work out for him. He didn't cry about it; he never will.The ContendersMartin Kaymer: Golf is a game of streaks. Nothing beats playing well going into a major and last week's Scottish Open winner is hot. If you follow the European Tour at all, you always see his name up there. The British Open is the most important tournament internationally and this might be Kaymer's week.Brady's Odds to Win: 8 to 1Henrik Stenson: I love his game and he's proved that he's always someone to be dealt with. He won't be afraid, and I always like a guy who's good at match play.Brady's Odds to Win: 8 to 1Geoff Ogilvy: Until otherwise noted, Geoff is a top-5 contender in every major championship. He's proved it.Brady's Odds to Win: 8 to 1Angel Cabrera: At majors, he's like the guy who comes to dinner and just won't leave. He's probably as formidable as anyone out there. If he was American, he'd be a hugely popular player because he looks like he really enjoys life. I dig him, he's cool.Brady's Odds to Win: 8 to 1Sergio Garcia: Regular readers know I'm not a fan, but he's obviously played well in this tournament. If Tiger ended up with a bad-weather draw, and Sergio was in the good half, then Sergio could win this tournament. But I can't envision a scenario where he beats Tiger if all things are equal.Brady's Odds to Win: 8 to 1Lee Westwood: I really like him. He's gotten a lot smarter and it feels like he deserves to win a major. Westwood was down and out and he resurrected his career. Golf is a difficult game in which to do that and it says a lot about his character.Brady's Odds to Win: 10 to 1Padraig Harrington: He just won the Irish PGA, but that's not a great barometer. He always wins that—it's like an annuity for him. If he is really getting it back, then he would be the guy after Tiger. I just think he still has some questions about his own game.Brady's Odds to Win: 10 to 1Anthony Kim: The British Open is a good tournament for him. He had three really good rounds at Birkdale last year, and Anthony is very smart on a golf course. He never does anything stupid, although he can get too aggressive. However, the British Open is not a bad event for an aggressive player. No one ever called Tom Watson conservative. If the course gets soft and Anthony can go birdie-hunting, look out. When he's firing on all cylinders, he can beat anyone, including Tiger.Brady's Odds to Win: 10 to 1

The Outside ChancesZach Johnson: He likes links golf, which is good because it means he'll take the extra effort to learn the course. He's got a low ball flight, hits a draw and is having a very solid year. Can't dismiss him.Brady's Odds to Win: 15 to 1Steve Stricker: He seems to always be there at this tournament. He's patient, smart and a good putter, but I can't see him taking on Tiger. Actually, other than Stenson, Ogilvy, Harrington and maybe Cabrera, I find it difficult to see anyone taking on Tiger.Brady's Odds to Win: 15 to 1Mike Weir: He's playing better, he's smart and he hits the ball low. You could make a lot worse picks than him.Brady's Odds to Win: 15 to 1Ian Poulter: Guys who wear pants like that win majors. Seriously. If you're spending that much time on your clothes, you're probably not thinking about the things you need to do to win. Call it the Doug Sanders Effect. I know Payne Stewart dressed theatrically, but I think that was just his natural personality.Brady's Odds to Win: 20 to 1Kenny Perry: The fact that he doesn't appear to enjoy the tournament worries me. Guys like that won't spend the extra time you need to adjust your game. He is playing well though.Brady's Odds to Win: 20 to 1Lucas Glover: Do I think Lucas Glover is a back-to-back major winner? No, but he deserves a mention here.Brady's Odds to Win: 20 to 1The Long ShotsRory McIlroy: I want to see some more proof. We all love the next guy who's going to take on Tiger, but after watching Tiger outclass Anthony Kim at the AT&T, I wonder, "How in the world would Rory McIlroy take him on?"Brady's Odds to Win: 30 to 1Paul Casey: If he's going to win a big one, the British Open would be it. He's got the strength, but I'm still not a believer.Brady's Odds to Win: 30 to 1Ernie Els: Golf is not his priority anymore and rightly so. But if you aren't making golf your priority, you can't beat other guys who do. I really would love to see him do well.Brady's Odds to Win: 30 to 1Ryo Ishikawa: Like McIlroy, Ryo just doesn't look ready to win a major. One advantage he'll have is that the Japanese phenom won't have any problem dealing with Tiger's photographers. Instead, Tiger might have trouble with his.Brady's Odds to Win: 30 to 1David Duval: Would love to see it, but one tournament is not evidence of a comeback.Brady's Odds to Win: 30 to 1Greg Norman: Last year was a fairy tale that almost came true. That's once-in-a-lifetime stuff.Brady's Odds to Win: 50 to 1

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