10 Who Could Win the 2007 British Open

1 of 10 Robert Beck/SI
PRO'S PICKS 10 Who Could Go All the Way Unpredictable weather and the quirky Carnoustie Links make next week's British Open a crapshoot, but that didn't stop a PGA Tour pro (on the condition of anonymity) from ranking, in ascending order, the players who are most likely to win the championship 10. ROD PAMPLING WORLD RANK 36th You may have forgotten, but the last time the Open was held at Carnoustie (in 1999), Pamps was the fi rst-round leader and then became the fi rst fi rst-round leader in history to miss the cut. No matter how much success he's had since — and he has won a couple of times in the U.S. — that's going to be on his mind. Carnoustie is where he fi rst put his name on the map, and then he fell right back off. It shouldn't affect him, but he'll defi nitely think about it... Pamps hasn't done much in the Open, even though he should have. He's a very good driver and a low-ball hitter who plays well in the wind. That's good because Scotland and wind go together like rum and Coke. LAST SHOT It's time for Pamps to have a good week and erase a bad memory.
2 of 10 Al Tielemans/SI
2. ANGEL CABRERA WORLD RANK 18th Angel's nickname is the Duck, but I think of him as the Gorilla. He's stocky and has this freaky strength because he doesn't look as if he's swinging hard, but his shots go eight miles. It's neat to watch — unless you're trying to beat him... Angel doesn't get much attention because he's a quiet guy from Argentina who won't speak English. If he were an American, he'd be a household name... This man was no fl uke winner at the Open. He had come close before in majors, notably last year at Royal Liverpool, and has put up some good rounds in Augusta... At Oakmont, I loved it when he hit that shot close at 15 and his reaction was, "Oh, man, I think I just won the Open!" LAST SHOT Don't try for me, Argentina, but back-to-back Open titles, while unlikely, is possible.
3 of 10 David Walberg/SI
3. K.J. CHOI WORLD RANK 13th K.J. reminds me a little of Furyk — he doesn't beat himself and he's kind of an emotionless player in that every shot he hits stands on its own. For example, he doesn't say (in Korean, of course), "I bogeyed the last hole so I have to birdie this one." He simply plods along playing the shots that are called for. It's a secret that he's among the best ballstrikers on Tour, and one of the best drivers... K.J. obviously has issues with his putter. Every time I see him, he's got two or three putters. He goes from a belly putter to a short putter to a mallet. At Congressional, he had one with a grip the size of a baseball bat. I don't know what the heck that thing was... When he putts well, he's dangerous. LAST SHOT This guy is good and, probably because of the language barrier, extremely underrated.
4 of 10 Simon Bruty
4. GEOFF OGILVY WORLD RANK 8th I may have critiqued Geoff a little harshly before the U.S. Open. Winning the Open and becoming a first-time father are life-changing experiences, and now, finally, I think Geoff has realized that he needs to get back into playing more, and he has... He hits the ball a lot better than people think and has become an excellent putter. His biggest asset is that he doesn't seem to get upset on the course anymore. He used to be semivolcanic. Now his pulse never changes. I have to ask him how he does that... My only concern is that he's a high-ball hitter who doesn't play many knockdown shots. He usually hits it straight up in the air — great at the Masters or the U.S. Open, but not the kind of ball fl ight for a windswept British Open. On the other hand, he's a smart guy who knows how to get around a course and hit long irons to set up his putter. LAST SHOT Four days of howling wind would hurt his chances, but if it's relatively calm — and you never know what you're going to get in Scotland — beware.
5 of 10 John Biever/SI
5. JIM FURYK WORLD RANK 2nd It doesn't matter which major we're talking about, you have to have Furyk in the conversation. He's always up there near the end. He wasn't in the picture at Oakmont, then he threw up three birdies in a row on the fi nal nine and could've — or maybe should've — won. I picked him to win, and for a few minutes I thought he was going to... Hey, a straight driver and great putter is a good bet in any major, although the British doesn't fi t his game all that well. He's great at driving the ball in a crosswind, but I'm not sure how good he is on the bump-and-run shots you have to play over there. One other thing that makes the British Open a crapshoot is that driving the ball in the fairway isn't the same as having your ball stay in the fairway. LAST SHOT I still think the U.S. Open is Jim's best major, but he's so tough and determined, he could win any of them.
6 of 10 Simon Bruty
7 of 10 Fred Vuich/SI
6. VIJAY SINGH WORLD RANK 6th Vijay's biggest weakness is that he wants to hit driver all the time. It's like the old Phil Mickelson took over Vijay's body. He has become the poster boy for bomb and gouge. That style of play works well in the Houston Opens of the world but not in majors. He makes bomb and gouge work by taking his wedges out of play every three weeks or so because he wants his grooves to be new and sharp so his approach shots grab out of the rough. After three weeks my wedges are just starting to feel as if they're getting broken in... Get this: Vijay has a 32-degree wood in his bag that he picked up at a Second Swing store. I'm not kidding — he bought three of those heads for $16. So he put a $100 shaft in a $5 head and hits it out of the rough from 160 or 170 yards. It's like a 12-wood, and it's the modern equivalent of the old wooden Ginty fairway wood. LAST SHOT Vijay's madbomber approach isn't the way to go at the British. He should play to his real strength — his iron game.
8 of 10 Al Tielemans/SI
8. JUSTIN ROSE WORLD RANK 21st None of the rising stars is more ready to break out than Justin. He hasn't won yet in the U.S., but put a major championship on his résumé and all of a sudden you'd realize that, wow, he's had a good career. Justin has five wins on three tours... How ready is he? He was in the hunt on the weekend at the first two majors this year, tying for fi fth at the Masters and 10th at Oakmont. Plus, he's fi fth in scoring average on the PGA Tour, and that requires consistently good play. He was runner-up at the European PGA and has fi ve top 10s in the U.S. He's had a lot of 36- and 54-hole leads in the U.S. without closing the deal, but he has gained a ton of experience... Justin's driver gets him in trouble at times, but he's a terrifi c putter, and putting wins majors. LAST SHOT Justin is poised to become the best English golfer since Nick Faldo.
9 of 10 Robert Beck/SI
9. AARON BADDELEY WORLD RANK 28th I knew Badds was going to drive it poorly on Sunday at Oakmont as soon as I saw that he would be paired with Tiger Woods. The problem is the stack-and-tilt swing — the flavor of the month in instruction — that Badds is using. The stack and tilt promotes such a descending blow that you're almost trapping the ball with the club. That's a great way to hit iron shots but not drives, especially under pressure. In my mind stack and tilt can't work. If you get quick, you hit either flares to the right or smother hooks. Badds, Dean Wilson, Mike Weir ... there's not a single stackand- tilt guy who's a great driver, and I haven't seen anyone using the method drive well under pressure. That said, I was impressed with how Badds shrugged off his Oakmont blowup. It must be nice to be young and confi dent. LAST SHOT You don't necessarily hit a lot of drivers at the British. If Aaron could play his way into the final U.S. Open twosome, he can scramble his way to the top at Carnoustie.
10 of 10 Simon Bruty/SI
And the Winner is ... TIGER WOODS WORLD RANK 1st Right now, the putter and the driver are Tiger's weakest links. The greatest drivers of the ball don't swing as fl at as Tiger does. It looks as if he's trying to groove his swing in a room with a seven-foot ceiling. It doesn't look right for his body. He looks like an NFL cornerback swinging a golf club. His continued success is a testament to his scrambling ability... Ever since Tiger switched to a 45-inch graphite-shafted driver, the club has been a nightmare for him. Nearly all of his bogeys come after he has driven into the rough. How'd he win the British Open last year? He didn't hit his driver... I'm a big Butch Harmon fan, and nobody will ever convince me that 1999, 2000 and '01 weren't Tiger's best ballstriking years. He hit so many iron shots to a foot or two then, you simply couldn't beat the guy. Now he beats you with his scrambling... We perceive Tiger as a great putter, but the truth is he's extremely streaky. I still don't understand how he made so many clutch six- and seven-footers for par down the stretch at Oakmont when he couldn't make anything else the rest of the week. Maybe it's time he tried a different putter. FINAL SHOT Despite all of the above, Tiger has won two and been second twice in the last four majors. I think he'll outsmart the fi eld at Carnoustie and leave his driver in the bag and hit a smorgasbord of three- and five-woods and two-irons. The man simply knows how to play the game.