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PGA Tour Confidential: Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods at the British Open, plus Jordan Spieth and Muirfield controversy

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Muirfield is one of three courses on the Open rotation -- Royal Troon and Royal St. George's are the others -- that have a men-only membership.

5. Some British officials have weighed in against Muirfield’s men-only membership policy. Will this controversy overshadow the 2013 British Open in the way Augusta National’s all-male membership threatened to overshadow the event before the club admitted two women members in 2012? Should it?

JIMMY WALKER: I had no idea about the club's policies. They are a private club and they should be able to do what they want. I personally think it is a dumb policy, but why would you want to be a member somewhere where you don't seem to be welcomed? I'm sure women play golf at Muirfield on a daily basis. People and groups get bored and look for a fight, and a worldwide event is always a good target. You have to be ready to deal with it. You have to own it. Augusta was fine before the media deal, and they are fine now.

PASSOV: Puh-leese! "I'm shocked, shocked to find gambling is going on in here," said Capt. Renault to Humphrey Bogart's Rick in "Casablanca." Is this really news? Open rota venues are announced years in advance. Where was the outrage that greeted the announcement? I'm in full agreement that this issue should be discussed and debated--but not now. It might be an issue next week, but it shouldn't be.

BAMBERGER : Muirfield can do what it wants (says a guy who is a member of a men's club and whose wife is a member of a women's club). The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, as administrators of the game, I think are in a different spot.

SHIPNUCK: It's less odious than Augusta's stance was given that Murifield is not a de facto ruling body like the National, but it's still pretty obnoxious. I think this year's Masters proved that these ancient institutions will not crumble if women are allowed to grace the grounds as equals. It's silly that we're even taking about this in 2013.

MIKE WALKER: The R&A needs to stop going to Muirfield and other clubs that exclude women for its Open Championship, which is really the world’s championship. The clubs are free to do what they like, but men’s-only membership policies are against the spirit of sports in the 21st century.

VAN SICKLE: It's already too late to overshadow this Open. Martha Burk hijacked the Masters months before the tournament. No one has done likewise in the U.K., where women's issues lag well behind the U.S. It'll be an issue, and maybe some celebrity will spice it up with some outspoken comments, but unless there are hundreds of protesters (I doubt that), Peter Dawson of the R&A has already dodged this issue for another year. Too bad. The R&A needs to join the 20th century already.

GODICH: Too late. The protesters should have made this an issue when Muirfield was awarded the event. Once the golf starts…

6. Who are your three dark horses for the Open Championship? (Can be to win, place or show.)

JIMMY WALKER: I like a guy born in windy Oklahoma who has played firm, drought-ridden golf courses in Texas for many years. I wouldn't consider him a "dark" horse, but maybe that's a good word to describe his hobby. If he finds the fairways he should be good to go. You guys are smart cookies. I'm sure you can figure out his name.

SHIPNUCK: Horschel, Grace, Harrington.

RITTER: I've been in Scotland now for a couple of days -- it's been rough -- and sources (read: gossipy caddies) tell me that Ernie Els was out playing Muirfield every day last week, and he looks great. Can you be a dark horse when you're the defending champion at an event, AND at the course? (Els won here in '02) I say yes, and he leads my list. Two others: Day and Dufner.

VAN SICKLE: My Three Dark Horsemen of the Apocalypse are: Jimmy Walker, easily the best astro-photographer in the field; Chris Wood; and underrated Canadian Graham DeLaet.

MIKE WALKER: Looking forward to watching Nick Faldo and Tom Watson battle for low geezer but I like the young guys Matteo Manassero and Jordan Spieth as dark horses.

PASSOV: Jordan Spieth to win, Rickie Fowler to place (31, T5, T11 the last three years) and Thomas Aiken to show (T7 in '12, 8 in '09, a win at the European Tour's Avantha Masters in '13).

GODICH: Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Jimmy Walker, of course.

BAMBEGER: Dark: Prof. Jimmy Walker! Darker: Mr. Ben Curtis. Darkest: Old Tom Watson.

Check back Wednesday for British Open picks in a special “British Open Confidential Extra!” on


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