Matt's British Open Predictions

By: Matt Barnes
By: Matt Barnes

Hard to believe but we are days away from the start of golf's third major. Who do I think has the best chance to win?

 

Time is truly flying by and now, we are just a couple days until the start of the 138th British Open. The Open championship is the oldest major championship of the four and it also is the one that produces the most random champions. Names like Paul Lawrie, Ben Curtis and Todd Hamilton have won in the past 10 years. But lately, it's been either Tiger Woods (2005 and 2006) or Padraig Harrington (2007 and 2008). But who will walk away with the Claret Jug this year?

If you saw my U.S. Open predictions, you'll notice that while I picked quite a few golfers that did well, I did not even have the eventual winner, Lucas Glover, in my top 10. But really, who did? I bet you Glover didn't even think he'd win. Anyways, that now makes me 0-2 in majors championship predictions.

This time, I'm doing a little less research and more "going with the gut". That may hurt or help me but hey, when you haven't picked a winner yet, the only way to go is up right? This year's British Open is being contested at Turnberry Golf Course in Scotland. The Open hasn't been held there since 1994 when Nick Price won. That means many of the golfers on the list weren't even on the Tour yet so this really is a crap shoot. Here we go.

10. Ernie Els - The Big Easy has not had it easy at all this season. In fact, he hasn't been playing that well at all. But you can;t argue against his British Open record. He has 13 top-20 finishes in 18 British Open appearances, so he obviously loves links golf. Plus, Els is always a force when it comes to majors. He does own three of them, including the 2002 British Open which he won in a 4-way playoff.

9. Ross Fisher - If you don't know his name, you may want to get to know it. And soon. That's because this Englishman is having an amazing year. He played well in his first Masters and in his first U.S. Open, finished in 5th place. But the reason Fisher is on this list is that he plays a lot of his golf on that side of the pond, so he knows links golf. He's 21st in the World Golf Rankings already and trust me, he'll be in the top 15 by the end of the year.

8. Paul Casey - He is still the 3rd ranked golfer in the world despite a shaky showing in his last three PGA Tour events. He missed cuts at the AT&T National and the U.S. Open and finished 63rd at the Memorial. But Casey has game. In fact, he may have taken the title of "Best player to have not won a major" from Sergio Garcia. He knows links golf and finished tied for 7th in last year's British Open.

7. Steve Stricker - This is one of those gut picks. He is the hottest golfer on tour right now, just coming off a win at last week's John Deere Classic. He has own twice this season and has performed well at both majors this year. Thing is, his British Open career hasn't been amazing. Before 2007, he hadn't finished higher than 22nd place. But the past two years, he has had a top-10 finish. I still think his best chance at a major is the U.S. Open but I wouldn't be shocked to see him contend this week.

6. Rory McIlroy - Another gut choice, considering this is just his second British Open. But this kid has serious game and knows how to play links golf. He didn't have a good showing at last week's Scottish Open (won by Martin Kaymer, who is my sleeper pick) but he has shown he can handle himself in big events. He won the Dubai Classic earlier this year and has top-20 finishes in both majors so far. But can a 20-year old really win a major championship?

5. Lee Westwood - He hasn't had a top-5 finish at a British Open since 2004 but that's not going to stop me from picking him. That's because I know what he is capable of. He has been in contention in majors many times and has won on the international stage numerous times. He has a calm demeanor, which should bode well for a course as tough as Turnberry. He also has played on the European Tour this year, so he should be more than ready for this test.

4. Sergio Garcia - Some may call me crazy for putting him this high but considering this is his best major, I'd be crazy not to. I know, he had a bad breakup with Greg Norman's daughter and that has had him a bit off personally and professionally, but let's be serious, Sergio will play well this week. Before last year's atypical 51st place finish, he had 3 straight top-5 finishes, including his heartbreaking loss to Harrington in 2007, where had a putt to win. If his putting doesn't let him down, he'll be in the hunt.

3. Padraig Harrington - I would love to pick him to win but his play has been too inconsistent this year for me to do that. He's been cut in 4 of his last 5 PGA Tour events but last week, he won the Irish Open, the same tournament he has won before his two British Open titles. So if history repeats itself, he will win. But I'm not so sure. The only reason he is this high is because he is the 2-time defending champion and it would be foolish for me not to have him this high.

2. Ian Poulter - I really want to pick him to win. Not only does he have the game and attitude to win the British Open, but I'm a big fan of his well-kept twitter account. This week alone, he has shown his Twitter followers every hole during his practice round, as if we are there with him. Hopefully, his Twittering won't distract him from winning because he can do it. Last year's runner-up finish should provide him momentum.

1. Tiger Woods - I know, I know. I picked him to win the Masters and the U.S. Open. But I can't NOT pick Tiger. He's just that good. Plus, consider the fact that the last 3 winners at Turnberry have been the top-ranked golfer in the world and it just seems destined that Tiger wins this major. Oh, and let's not forget that Tiger has 3 wins this year. My only reservation in picking Tiger is that this is his first time playing at Turnberry but that hasn't stopped him before. He tied for 6th at the Masters and U.S. Open. If he does that this week too, I promise I won't pick him in the PGA Championship. In fact, I'll make him number 6.

So those are the picks. What do you think? Let me know in the comments section below. And feel free to let me know who you think will win. Who knows, you may get a shout out on air Sunday if you're right. Enjoy the golf everyone.

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