I have been reading a lot of conflicting predictions for the upcoming Open this week. I have heard that Royal St. George will produce a Dark Horse winner that no one expects, but I have also heard that it is a course where the best tend to win. I have no idea which it will be, but I hope it is the scenario where the best wins.
Last week we saw the field absolutely demolish the Scottish Open due to non-existent winds and a soft course. I don’t think the Open will be nearly as soft, and you never know with the wind. If anything at all can be taken away from the Scottish Open it is that the top players in the world are playing well right now. Donald, Westwood, Kuchar and McDowell (for three rounds) all played great golf last week. Phil played decent but not great.
I think there are a few potentially explosive story lines going into next week that are a real possibility. The first I could see playing out is a Northern Ireland heavy leader board. I could very easily see McDowell and McIlroy high up on the leaderboard battling it out for the championship over the weekend. Wouldn’t that be something to see the past two U.S. Open Champions slugging it out at the British Open for their second major? I for one would be glued to the T.V. and really do believe this is a strong possibility.
The second story line is similar to the first but it involves two Englishmen instead of Irishmen. It is a very real possibility that we will see both Donald and Westwood high up on the leader board during this championship. Donald is fresh off his win last week and Westwood has been playing good golf pretty much all year. He always finds a way to play well in Major championships and it really feels like it is his time. He can’t go his whole career without winning a major, can he? A Donald vs. Westwood showdown would be fantastic in its own right, but the fact that it would be a rematch from when Luke snatched the world #1 ranking from Westwood at the BMW PGA Championship in Wentworth would make it that much more exciting. I can’t decide which is more likely, Donald vs. Westwood or McDowell vs. McIlroy, but both would be fantastic.
The last story line I would love to see play out this weekend is pretty much any American making a run at the Claret Jug. Do I think they will? Not really, but I think Matt Kuchar is our best shot. Watney may get hot and get in the mix but I don’t see it happening. Kuchar was playing in the Scottish Open last week and played very well. He is Mr. Consistent and seems like the kind of player who will win a major in his career. Why not now?
The biggest dark horse American player I can think of who has a decent shot is Steve Marino. I know he hasn’t wo on Tour but he has a good resume on links courses and is a relentless grinder. You need to be able to handle bad breaks and Marino has tasted bad breaks this year, but keeps chugging along.
At the end of the day I am still going to go with pretty much everyone’s favorite pick thus far. I think Rory is going to be lifting the Claret Jug come Thursday.