The third major of the year starts this Thursday as professionals from around the world head to Royal Lytham & St Annes. Nothing says “British Open” like over 200 bunkers and a premium on accuracy with danger on virtually every shot. Last time the tournament was held at this spot in the rotation, it was David Duval who lifted the Claret Jug. Will it be another American hoisting it on Sunday this week? In the last five years, only one American has won the Open, although the last three Major champions have been from the U-S-A.
Last week, it was Zach Johnson who claimed a big win for him at the John Deere Classic. In the Fantasy CPR group, it was FIGJAM who took the win on the week his first on the summer and fourth on the year. Ly-tham Webb sits atop the Summer standings, while XXXX MT Cup XXXX maintained his overall lead on the season. My entry was hurt by my passing on Johnson in favor of Sean O’Hair who missed the cut. I knew passin on Johnson was a risk and said so in my picks for last week. Congrats to him on winning after a crazy playoff that definitely showcased the drama that golf can provide.
I’m pumped about another Major this week with the best golfers all ready to go for it on what should be a fascinating course. Check out the course overview to get an idea of what we have to look forward to. For the ESPN Best Ball Challenge my roster for round 1 is: Graeme McDowell, Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, and Tim Clark. In the ongoing Yahoo challenge, this is who I’m rolling with:
Luke Donald – The A-list is a little tricky this week with not many players to choose from and some hit-or-miss picks. Donald is the world #1 so obviously is a solid pick but has only finished in the top 10 in 2 of his 11 trips to the Open. He does have two wins worldwide this year and had three top 12 finishes stateside before missing the cut at the US Open.
Adam Scott – Scott finished t15 at the US Open and solo 3rd at the AT&T National three weeks ago. Scott has played the last 11 Opens with eight made cuts and five top 30′s including three of the last four years. He’s also on the opposite side of the draw from Donald which is always something to consider with weather expected to be a factor.
Tiger Woods – The reason you save Tiger starts is so that you can use him in tournaments like this. I don’t know if he’ll win, but I do think he’ll be around the leaderboard coming down the stretch on Sunday.
Lee Westwood – One of the best ball-strikers in the game and most people’s pick for “best without a major,” Westwood rolls into this one with six top threes and two more top 10s in his last 11 starts. He hasn’t won a Major but seems to be in it at the end in the Open almost every year.
Dustin Johnson – Johnson is one of my favorites and he fits the profile of the latest group of Major-winners. He has shown he can overcome the elements and “trudge” to victory. He hasn’t looked great since winning the St. Jude, but did tie for second last year and finish t14 in 2010.
Ernie Els – In 21 career starts at the Open, Els has a win and 12 top tens. He is one of the few who have two previous tournaments on this track finishing t2 in 1996 and t3 in 2001. He’s played well overall this year and has a handful of top tens in his last 11 starts
Padraig Harrington – A two-time Open champion, Harrington has put his game back together for this tournament and enters with five consecutive top 20s after a t16 last week at the Scottish Open.
Graeme McDowell – On the opposite side of the draw from Harrington, it’s hard to go with anyone but McDowell. He has won a Major before and has finished runner-up in three tournaments this year including the US Open at Olympic. He missed the cut at the Open last year breaking a string of three top 35′s in a row.