Trying to pick this year’s Open champ is almost impossible. In most Majors I have a sniff of who will be in the running come Sunday, but at Lytham, there are 156 candidates who have a chance of winning. And 100 of them have a realistic chance!
The weather has conspired to level the playing field at Lytham – the soft greens and fairways will help the Americans come into the reckoning, as they are used to target golf and bombing drivers off the tee without fear of running into fairway bunkers.
Then, as happens every year at The Open, there’s the luck of the draw. If you are on the favourable side of the draw weather-wise, you’ll have a step up on half of the field. And if you happen to play during the gale force winds and howling rain – sadly, you’re just out of luck. So it’s a little bit of a lottery picking a winner.
Still, here’s my 10 cents worth.
1. Lee Westwood.
Not sure if this is wishful thinking or based on sound predictions. Either way, Westy is due and I’m going to keep punting him until he does win one. Then I’ll look brilliant and say, “I called it!”
Seriously, he drives the ball beautifully and if he can stay out of trouble, he will be in there at the end of the tournament.
2. Adam Scott
The Aussies haven’t won a Major since 2006, so I figure it’s between Scott and Ogilvy for the ‘Best Aussie’ position. The greens are relatively flat so if Scotty can keep striking the ball well, I’d expect him to be in with a shout. Either way, he’ll be the best-dressed player there.
3. Ernie Els
I’m certain this is wishful thinking – but the Big Easy has hit some form coming into the event. He also has top-three finishes in his last two Opens at Royal Lytham. If he has a good week with the putter he could do it. But he won’t. So watch out for Richard Sterne or George Coetzee from an SA perspective.
4. Padraig Harrington
For starters, he’s won two of them – but keen followers of golf would have noticed that the Irishman has hit a good patch of form recently. And like any true champion, he will raise his game for the big one.
5. Tiger Woods
Because you’d be an idiot to write him off.
Sleepers: Louis Oosthuizen, Francesco Molinari, Dustin Johnson
Rank outsiders: Ross Fisher, Raphael Jacquelin, Geoff Ogilvy