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2014 British Open Staff Preview

Jul. 16, 2014     By     Comments (1)

My alarm is set for early Thursday morning to watch the 2014 British Open, is yours? Read on to check out what the staff expects we'll see for this year's event.

Thrash TalkRoyal Liverpool is the site of the 2014 British Open. Last time we were there, Tiger navigated his way to a win only hitting his driver once. When it comes to the British Open, the weather conditions dictate how the course will play and the rumor is the course is not as dry and the rough is up, so Tiger will likely not be able to it the same way he did last time. Speaking of Tiger there are numerous question marks about how he will play this year considering it is only his second event back from his back surgery.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson come to Royal Liverpool following one of his worst starts ever. His only top ten was at Abu Dhabi early in the season, but with Phil being Phil we can never know what to expect. There are numerous exciting story lines surrounding the event so with that lets see what the staff expects for the event.

1. Who is your winner? Why do you think they will win? What score do they shoot?

Michael C. Hepp
I was all set to pick Steve Stricker, then he withdrew. I then moved on to Justin Rose, but then he won the Scottish Open and I am always hesitant to pick players that have won the week before. So I know from the start that whomever I pick is doomed. So I am going to go with the golfer who always thinks he is doomed, Sergio Garcia. I just think he arrives under the radar and hopefully he catches the weather right and gets himself a big lead and rides it for the win. -8 will be his winning score.

Tristan Hilton
This is a tough one for me, I don't think I've not picked Tiger to win a major with the exception of the ones he had to sit out. That said, only one event after coming back from a back surgery means I have to go another direction. I think I'm going to take Fowler to win this one at -9. I think he is starting to become the player that many thought he would be a few years back, and with his best major finishes coming this year (T5 at the Masters and a T2 in the U.S. Open), this may be his time to close the deal.

Jamieson Weiss
I've picked Rickie Fowler to win the first two majors, and he's nearly rewarded me, with a T5 and a T2. I'm committed at this point; if I went with anyone else, y'all would be best advised to put everything you own on a Fowler victory. But since I do have him winning at -8, find something better to do with your money.

George Promenschenkel
I’m taking Jordan Spieth on the probably misguided theory that learning to play the game in Texas translates well to links golf. To win, he'll have to control his tee shots better. He's 137th on Tour (58.57%) in driving accuracy, which could be a major liability at Hoylake. With a single T44 performance in the Open Championship, Spieth may not be quite ready to break through at Hoylake, but I’m still picking him to win at 277 (-11).

Mike McLoughlin
I'm going with Lee Westwood. He's a great ball striker, has a lot of great finishes in the Open Championship and I think he's due for a solid week of golf. He loves playing in this tournament, he's got his fade pattern back and I think this is the tournament where he gets his first major.

Erik J. Barzeski
I'm taking Rickie Fowler at -11. I think he's playing some good golf. He's always had the talent, and the little swing changes he's made have helped him become a lot more consistent, it seems. He can hit it low, and I think Hoylake will suit him.

2. The R&A have given a special exemption to Tom Watson. Do you think it was the right thing to do, or should they have given it to another player?

Michael C. Hepp
I was initially quite put off by this move when I first read the news, I get that he is the Ryder Cup captain but there are guys struggling like hell to get in and he takes a spot of a young guy looking for a breakout week. But Tom has proven he can still play with the younger guys by making the cut at the Greenbrier. So I believe that considering he may make the cut I am now fine with the decision.

Tristan Hilton
I have no problem with it. It was a blast to watch him nearly win it a few years back. Obviously I'm not expecting him to do it again, but isn't this kind of what special exemptions are for, to get somebody you want into the the tournament that would not otherwise qualify?

Jamieson Weiss
I try to avoid the "who deserved this week's exemptions most?" debates because they're completely irrational. Will Tom Watson win the Open? No, of course not. Chances are he'll miss the cut. But he'll make a few birdies early on Thursday, the TV crew will geek out for a few hours, Adams will sell a few hybrids, and then we'll all go our merry ways. That's good enough for me.

George Promenschenkel
It's just five years since Watson missed an eight-foot putt that would have made him the oldest major winner by more than 10 years. If he would have made that putt in 2009 at age 59, under the then current rules, he would have only been eligible for a one-year exemption. If he can play, let him. It's not like Watson is likely to put an embarrassing number up. He is still playing at a high level. He just made the cut at Greenbrier. I have no issue with his playing, and I'm also glad that the R&A is going to give him the opportunity in 2015 to play one last Open Championship at St. Andrews.

Mike McLoughlin
I think it's the right move. He's won the tournament five times and he's the Ryder Cup captain, why the heck not? I hope he plays well and makes a run.

Erik J. Barzeski
It's absolutely the right thing to do. This shouldn't even be a question. If you think that someone else who didn't otherwise qualify is more deserving, you're wrong. :-)

Phil Mickelson

3. Tiger is back with his improved back, and he was very rusty in his first event. What are your expectations for him at Royal Liverpool?

Michael C. Hepp
I think he will play better than he did at his own event, but not much better. Part of me feels he came back too soon because he wanted to support his event. This was admirable but potentially not what is best for him long term. I expect lingering around the cut line potentially making it, but not really being a contender.

Tristan Hilton
If what he said following his missed cut at Congressional is true, then I expect he'll have a good tournament. If the back is truly not an issue and he can go after it as hard as he can, I think he can make some noise. That said, I'm not sure that one tournament shakes off all the rust, and I think there will be enough of it to keep him from holding the Claret Jug come Sunday.

Jamieson Weiss
Geez, who knows. I could see him pulling off an insanely improbable win, and I can see him limping home after a 79 on the first day. My guess? He makes the cut, starts Sunday about six back (close enough that we'll see every shot he hits), and throws away any puncher's chance he had by the turn. That pretty much sums up post-fire hydrant Tiger in majors, right?

George Promenschenkel
I fully expect Tiger to be much more Tiger-like at the Open Championship. I think he'll get into contention even late in the championship, but he won't get #15, not yet anyway. While he'll show flashes of his old form, but there will still be enough rust and self-doubt about his back. Plus, it's been years since he's demonstrated the accuracy with a long iron he showed in his 18-under romp at Hoylake.

Mike McLoughlin
I think he'll make the cut and come close to contending, I'm predicting a top 20 finish. He was positive about his game at Congressional even though his score wasn't great. I see him shooting better scores but still not good enough to win major number 15.

Erik J. Barzeski
I expect Tiger to make the cut (it's easier to do this in the Opens since a lot of the field are qualifiers), but not contend at all. He'll finish his Sunday round before the leaders tee off, or close to it. Tiger's return to form may come at the PGA Championship, but it will not come at Hoylake. I've heard he's still not playing too well (one said he'd have not broken 80 if he'd played 18 in his practice round), and he appears to have the poor side of the draw with high winds predicted for Friday afternoon.

4.In the last five years the Europeans have outperformed the Americans at the British Open. With some of the Americans like Rickie Fowler and Jordan Speith playing well, who do you see having more players in the top 10?

Michael C. Hepp
Americans. I just see more of them playing better than the Europeans now. The Euros have Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose, and the list of big names gets pretty thin after that. Poulter has not been much of a factor and Rory has been Jekyll and Hyde, I feel the Americans have been more consistent and have more guys in the top 10.

Tristan Hilton
Fowler and Speith are both playing great this year, and I fully expect both to be inside the top 10. With Americans like Zach Johnson, Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley, and Jason Dufner among others and with a few international players sprinkled in, I think this will be the year we see more Americans in the top 10.

Jamieson Weiss
The Americans, for the reasons you mentioned in the question. I'm picking Fowler, after all.

George Promenschenkel
While links courses are more foreign to American players, if you look at who’s winning on the PGA Tour this year, it’s Martin Kaymer and a bunch of Americans. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but there are far more Americans winning than Euros. I say take the Americans in this prop bet, 6-3 (Jason Day, an Aussie, will be the other).

Mike McLoughlin
Europeans are strong right now, Martin Kaymer winning at Pinehurst, Graeme McDowell winning in France, McIlroy winning the European PGA Championship, those guys seem to be peaking. For the Americans, Stricker, Furyk and Mickelson haven't been playing great and obviously Tiger has been out for several months. Bubba won the Masters but he doesn't seem to get very excited when it comes to links golf, so overall I'm not seeing too many Americans inside the top 10.

Erik J. Barzeski
Well, since I took Fowler to win, I think he'll do well, along with the rest of the American crew. The Euro Ryder Cup team looks awfully weird right about now…

5. The last time the British Open was at Royal Liverpool Tiger won only hitting his driver once. Do you think this year’s winner can take a similar approach or needs to go another direction?

Michael C. Hepp
The weather plays such a big role in determining the winner. Even if you are playing well if you get a bum steer on the draw you could be five strokes behind. I don't feel that the course will allow the winner to be as conservative as Tiger was. I see the winner hitting driver less than in a typical PGA Tour week, but still many more times than Tiger did.

Tristan Hilton
That will depend on weather. If the conditions allow for it, then hitting driver will be important and I'll say hitting it only once won't work.

Jamieson Weiss
That's tough since Tiger was such an atypical case. It's hard for anyone who hits the ball as long as Tiger does (think Bubba, Phil, Woodland, etc.) to give up their biggest advantage over the field: distance. They play every tournament of the year at an advantage because they have closer approach shots into every hole than their competitors. For another long hitter to throw that asset away and still win the tournament would require the same expert level of ballstriking that Tiger had in 2006, which is not easy to come by. So it could happen, yes, but it would require a performance as exceptional as Tiger's was.

George Promenschenkel
Royal Liverpool has some quirky fairways, which will prove very hard to hit. Hitting driver on #3 means carrying OB and then stopping the ball on a narrow fairway running nearly perpendicular to the line of play. So fairway woods, hybrids, and long irons will see a lot of play off the tee. Still, I don't quite expect a repeat of Tiger's 1-driver performance. Take the first hole, for example. The green is tricked up and will be extremely hard to hit with a long iron, necessitating even big hitters to play a driver or 3-wood from the tee

Mike McLoughlin
We'll certainly see less drivers than we normally do week to week on Tour but not quite to the extent of only hitting one driver for the week. It's also depends on weather conditions. If the wind picks up players might be forced to change their strategy.

Erik J. Barzeski
It's been a much wetter year, so we're going to see more drivers from the top twenty finishers than just one. This course will play quite differently this time around than the last, when Tiger "ironed" it into submission. Plus, I don't know if Chris DiMarco even qualified…

Photo credits: © Getty Images.

Discussion

  1. rak3 says:

    Of course Tom Watson deserves to play, he qualified in 2009 with his top 10 finish as a former champion. The special exemption he received was not for this week, it was for 2015 at St. Andrews!

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