Let’s talk about Hamilton. Not Hamilton the musical. Hamilton the man.
As in Todd Hamilton, the unsung Tour pro who winged across the pond 12 years ago and walked off with the 2004 British Open Championship, beating Ernie Els in a four-hole playoff at Royal Troon.
He hasn’t done much since, but memories of his achievement have been on our mind.
With the British Open on its way back to Troon this month, we have to wonder: could there be another underdog waiting in the wings, a Hamilton understudy, as it were, ready to claim the Claret Jug?
Of course there could. Here are six nominees.
Country of birth: England
Current odds: 100 to 1
Hardly a household name in the United States, he is, like certain rock bands, pretty big in Europe, having notched three wins on the European Tour. He cut his teeth on links golf, and last year, in his first appearance in the British Open, he finished T-30. Darker horses have won before.
Harold Varner III
Country of Birth: United States
Current odds: 300 to 1
When you’re handicapping long shots, it helps to ask this question: who’s got the hot hand? A very warm one belongs to Varner, as evidenced by his seventh place finish at Congressional, which earned him a spot in Troon’s field.
Country of Birth: England
Current odds: 250 to 1
It’s been 21 years since John Daly won the British Open. And you know what that means: it’s about time for someone with a neck-warmer hairdo to win it again.
Country of birth: Denmark
Current odds: 150 to 1
Every career has humps and bumps. In Olesen’s case, we mean that literally. Two years ago, this promising young talent injured his groin after falling of a camel in Dubai. But he’s been on the mend. Could he win at Troon? Stranger things have already happened to him.
Country of birth: Austria
Current odds: 150/1
We know what you’re thinking: you burnt your wiesberger once at it was very painful. But imagine how much it would hurt if you didn’t save a pick in your office pool for the winningest Austrian golfer of all time, and he went ahead a snagged the Claret Jug.
Country of Birth: Thailand
Current odds: 1000 to 1
In July 2013, Khongwatmai became the youngest golfer ever to win a professional tournament when he claimed the Sing Hua Hin Open on the ASEAN PGA Tour. He’s 17 now, the same age as Young Tom Morris in 1868 when he became the youngest-ever Open champ. Coincidence? Maybe not.