The British Open Contenders
by Sean O’Connor
The British Open is nearly upon us. The world’s elite golfers are teeing off their practice rounds, desperate to get a feel for the course, whilst some stars are desperate for much more – getting their hands on the prestigious Claret Jug and claiming a place in history alongside British Open past winners.
As Thursday edges ever closer, we take a look at those who really need a major under their belt this week.
Some may think that one of the most decorated golfers of all time has nothing to prove. But Tiger, perhaps the greatest of all time, is six years without winning a major, and if he’s going to continue to be considered as one of the best in golfing history then he certainly needs to win one soon.
The 38-year-old has lifted the jug three times already and will draw level with the great Tom Watson if he picks up his fourth at Hoylake. However, It’ll be a tough ask for Tiger after recovering from back surgery, but his confidence has been boosted by a return to the PGA Tour three weeks ago, whilst his swing is becoming stronger as each day passes. A return to majors glory would be huge for him, and indeed huge for golf.
Scott has been a revelation in recent years and has even worked his way up to the World Number One slot; a major would cap off what has been an unbelievable few months for the 33-year-old Australian.
He only has one major under his belt during his 14 year pro career so far, which came last year at Augusta. At the British Open this year, he will want to go one better than his runner-up position in back in 2012.
Defending champion Mickelson will certainly get one step closer to nailing himself into the top 10 of all time if he can lift claim the Open championship for a second year running. The man nicknamed ‘The Thrill’ hasn’t had any PGA top 10 finishes since that day at Muirfield last year so a good few rounds in the week will do the man the world of good.
One of the favourites for the tournament, Phil Mickelson is 20/1 with Bet fred to win outright, claiming he’s as fit and strong as he’s ever been and he has even been training with putting guru Dave Stockton to work on the short game which has been hampering him the last year or so.
Like Mickelson last year, Justin Rose picked up the Scottish Open just days ago in the championship’s warm-up competition. And like Mickelson last year, he’ll be hoping to go on to win the major. The Brit has had rotten luck in his home major so far, having failed to finish higher since his first pro season on the tour.
However, Rose has won his last two tournaments and looks in good knick as he prepares to tee off at Hoylake. He’s openly admitted he’s not too familiar with the course, but he’ll no doubt be fully prepared ahead of his round start time: 2.30pm (BST) on Thursday.
It seems pretty incredible that Sergio Garcia has never won a major. A pro since 1999, El Nino has finally seen a resurgence in form after years in the golfing abyss. The closest the Spaniard has got to Open glory was back in 2007, eventually falling to Tiger Woods, and since then he’s not really got close.
Regardless, Ryder Cup legend Jose Maria Olazabal believes a major is on the horizon for his compatriot. He said, “He has a wonderful game from tee to green.
“The putter deserted him for a while but it looks like it is back working properly and that means he will have a chance.”
Time will tell who has the nerve and the skill to win the famous Claret Jug.