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2012 British Open: Staff Predictions and Five Questions

Jul. 18, 2012     By     Comments (3)

The Open Championship heads to Royal Lytham and St. Annes, see who the staff thinks the winner will be.

Thrash TalkThis year the Open Championship moves to the site of David Duval's only major victory - Royal Lytham and St. Annes. I truly enjoy the Open Championship because I can start watching the action as I sit down for breakfast in the morning and by lunch time the majority of play is over. The build up for this years event is great as well. Tiger is really hitting his stride aside from his missed cut at the Greenbrier, Phil cut his vacation short to play in the Scottish Open and played decently, all the big names are hitting their stride. With that lets see what the staff predicts for this year's tournament.

1. If you can't pick Tiger, who is your winner, their score and why?

Tristan Hilton
That's a tough one, because Tiger is the go-to guy; especially considering it looks like he is back on track. Rory would normally seem like a good choice but he hasn't performed too well as of late. Let's go with Graeme McDowell, he's played pretty good recently (contended well at the U.S. Open) and is obviously familiar with links golf. I'll say he wins at -9.

Ron Varrial
My theory is, Phil Mickelson, the premier over-thinker in the game, has spent the longest stretch of over-par rounds messing with his game to lower ball flight and prepare for the British Open. This is his year to build upon last year's solid showing and capture a Claret Jug.

Danny Ottmann
I wouldn't pick Tiger anyway after he let me down twice now. I am going with Hunter Mahan. After winning twice he went into a mini slump but has shown signs of returning to form. I think he will take it with a score of 272 (-8).

Jamieson Weiss
I'm taking Lee Westwood at -5. I've been pretty hard on Lee over the past few years, joking about how he has a tendency to post high finishes despite never really contending. That said, these top three Europeans have to break through at some point (in the case of Donald and Westwood, winning their first major, in the case of the much-hyped McIlroy, winning his second), and this seems like as good an opportunity as ever.

Mike McLoughlin
I have a feeling an American is going to win. I'm going with Hunter Mahan to win at -11. He's third on the FedExCup list, third in GIR, he's gifted as a ball-striker, and slightly above-average length makes him a good pick for Royal Lytham. He also plays well in colder environments and on scruffy desert courses. He'll have to make sure that he stays out of as many bunkers as he can since he's not really all that good this year.

Michael C. Hepp
Lytham has a history of rewarding the players who struggled throughout their career without a major, and won their first here. Example David Duval and Tom Lehman. So my pick is going to be someone who has toiled their whole career attempting to win a major but just falling short. That guy is Sergio Garcia. His stats are decent and I think he is due and Lytham likes players like him. He wins it at -8.

Erik J. Barzeski
Padraig Harrington at -3. I don't think they're going to score well, and Paddy's return to form has gone unnoticed. He's back this week and will tie Phil Mickelson for the most majors during the Tiger Woods era by someone not named Tiger Woods.

2. Last year's champion Darren Clarke has done absolutely nothing since his win, but in recent tournaments has showed a bit more form, what do you expect from him in defense of his title?

Tristan Hilton
Not a whole lot. He had a magical week last year and put together a great tournament for the Open but I don't think that he'll come even close again. I see him right around the cut line, whether he's on the good or bad side of it though, I"m not sure.

Ron Varrial
I always expect Darren Clarke to contend at a British Open. The other 51 weeks don't matter.

Danny Ottmann
I don't really expect anything from Darren Clarke. I like the guy and I thought it was great when he won last year. Since then he has done almost nothing and I don't expect that to change.

Jamieson Weiss
I'm not expecting much at all out of Clarke. He missed the cut at The Masters, didn't play at the U.S. Open, and has only cracked the top 30 at one event on the PGA and Euro Tours all year. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he missed the cut.

Mike McLoughlin
He did have one of his better events at the Irish Open, so perhaps he will have a respectable title defense at Lytham. I expect him to make the cut but not contend. His win last year made him one of the more popular winners. But I think the hangover continues.

Michael C. Hepp
I think Clarke will have a very good British Open. I do not think he will win, but I think he will want to show well because he knows the spotlight will be on him. He has spent the better part of a year do nothing but playing two rounds of golf a week, so he will be well rested and ready to have a good showing.

Erik J. Barzeski
Not a darn thing. He might miss the cut, he might not. But he's not going to be in contention on Saturday or Sunday.

2011 British Open winner Darren Clarke holding the trophy

3. The weather can play such a big role in the British Open, do you enjoy that, or think that it creates an unfair advantage for some lucky players?

Tristan Hilton
I like that the weather is such a factor in the Open… each major has its own "thing" (the course itself at the Masters, brutally tough course at the U.S. Open, last chance/strongest field at the PGA) and the weather is the "thing" for the British Open. It can produce a lucky winner from time to time, but it tests an aspect of the game that the other majors don't as often.

Ron Varrial
The weather is part of the fun, but I'd much prefer if it blows 40 all day, rather than punish half the field.

Danny Ottmann
The weather there is lousy. You know that when you go over there so its no surprise. If it gets really bad I think it gives some bad weather players an advantage. I don't think it is an unfair advantage; certain courses and conditions just lend themselves to certain players.

Jamieson Weiss
I both enjoy the weather and think it creates an unfair advantage. I enjoy it because it's rare that U.S. golf fans get to see weather actually play a huge role in the outcome of a big tournament (though we might get that at Kiawah Island in August), and it can be quite fun to see the best players in the world reduced to (relative) hackers every now and then. That said, some players do get good breaks, and others don't. It's the nature of the beast, I suppose.

Mike McLoughlin
Golf was never meant to be a fair game and I think the British Open is proof of that. Without some bad weather you don't have much of a tournament.

Michael C. Hepp
I am fine with the weather creating an unfair advantage. I think the British Open is designed to find the golfer that battles not only their nerves and the course and most majors do, but also tests the players ability to deal with adversity. Just getting a good draw on one day does not mean for sure you will win, otherwise Rory would have won in 2010 at St. Andrews when his shot his 63. The course eventually reared him back in and he did not win.

Erik J. Barzeski
The weather is both a big part of what makes the British Open interesting and unfair. The same late/early or early/late groups can get hit with awful weather while the other half of the draw escapes with light breezes and warm air. But nobody ever said golf was played in the fairest conditions, so it is what it is: capitalize on the good conditions and muddle through the poor ones.

4. Last year Clarke was a great storyline, but previous to that the British Open has some fantastic near misses with Tom Watson, and before that Greg Norman in the final group. What great underdog story do you expect from this years field?

Tristan Hilton
The thing is, it's so hard to predict this kind of thing because it's the unexpectedness and surprise that makes these stories so great. That being said, if I had to pick a story, let's go with the resurgence of David Duval and him winning his second Claret Jug at Royal Lytham's.

Ron Varrial
The seniors have stolen the show the past few years. This could be the year a youngster rises. How about Matteo Manassero vs. Harris English vs. Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson on the back nine Sunday with Lee Westwood holding a share of the lead as well.

Danny Ottmann
Who knows, maybe Tom Watson will make another run at it. He is one of the best bad weather players ever, if the weather gets bad enough don't count him out! Another dark horse is John Daly, he plays over there almost exclusively, has actually played fairly well this year, and has gotten used to those types of courses.

Jamieson Weiss
With Darren Clarke finally off the major championship schneid, I suppose the next logical first-timer would be Colin Montgomerie, but he failed to qualify. That really leaves two players I mention a lot in these previews: Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia. Sergio hasn't been consistently good, but a few top-10 finishes and a T12 at The Masters have shown that he can play well. Scott finished T8 at The Masters and T15 at the U.S. Open. Add that to a solid third-place finish at the AT&T National, and he might have a chance.

Mike McLoughlin
I'll go with David Duval, he won last time at Royal Lytham and St. Annes. It's a long shot but he has sporadically played well in some majors the last several years. I'm a fan of Duval's, hope that playing the course again brings back some good memories that will translate into good scores.

Michael C. Hepp
In my initial question I forgot to include the 2010 run of Mark Calcavechia, and he was almost my pick for the surprise contender, but because of the course I am going to go with Tom Lehman. Tom has played brilliantly on the Senior Tour and is full of confidence. I expect him to contend right until the end.

Erik J. Barzeski
Is this the place where I can say Bubba Watson will be the first multiple major winner since Padraig Harrington?

5. Tiger's biggest improvement in 2012 has been his improved driving statistics. Should he win, which part of his game is the component that takes him over the top?

Tristan Hilton
It'll come down to his putting and short game. The improved driving stats are great and they are helping him but especially with this weather he's going to have shots that end up somewhere he doesn't expect and he'll have to be able to get up and in if he wants to win.

Ron Varrial
Tiger seems to be struggling with nuanced greens, missing putts on the edges. If these suit his eye and he gets back to the point he's pouring them in from 10 feet time after time, he will resemble his old self again.

Danny Ottmann
With Tiger he seems to have it all in place when he wins. When he loses he seems to struggle with his distance control for one. He is just a hair away from being back completely, as soon as he learns to trust that swing completely again, watch out.

Jamieson Weiss
To win a major, Tiger is going to have to do everything right. He's got to get off the tee, get on the green, and get in the cup. Those first two haven't been much of a problem for him thus far (at least in spurts), but he hasn't quite put it together around the greens. I'm not even sure if the stats bear that out, but I can't get the 2008 U.S. Open out of my head. He doesn't win that event without a number of miraculous short game shots, and I think he has to add a few of those to a ballstriking hot streak if he wants to win.

Mike McLoughlin
It all revolves around putting for Tiger. Whether he hits it well or not he got to convert the birdie putts and make those clutch par saves. I think his putter let him done on the weekend at Olympic but it will be a different story this week.

Michael C. Hepp
To win Tiger will have to putt well. I think he will need to hit the irons well as well. At British Open courses the driver is not as required as in typical PGA Tour courses so it will come down to hitting the irons close and sinking putts on the slower greens.

Erik J. Barzeski
The six inches between his ears.

Photo credits: © Getty Images.

Discussion

  1. Sykology says:

    I sure hope Danny Ottmann is right about Hunter Mahan. I also picked him to win at -8 in the contest, lol. Very good read!

  2. BWChuck says:

    Excellent read. Absolutely love the response here Mike M.:

    "Golf was never meant to be a fair game and I think the British Open is proof of that. Without some bad weather you don't have much of a tournament."

  3. @mvmac... I like the way you think about Duval being the feel good, surprise choice. :)

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