The 147th Open Championship tees off later this week. Betting odds favor world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and perennial Open favorite Rory McIlroy, but are they the true favorites? Here, Yahoo Sports’ golf experts bring you the inside story on which players you really ought to trust … and how a certain couple of big names might play this week. Onward:
Who will win the Open?
Tommy Fleetwood is on deck for several reasons: one, he’s playing a home game; he already holds the course record at Carnoustie (a 63 shot last October). Two, he’s playing as well as anyone on the PGA Tour, having very nearly carded a record-tying 62 at last month’s U.S. Open. And three, golf fans are the only ones who’d still get the inevitable “Fleetwood whacks” jokes that would follow such a victory. It’s fate, I tell you.
Since finally getting his major at last year’s Masters, Sergio Garcia’s record at the big four looks like this:
Not good. However, he has 10 top-10’s at The Open this millennium – including the heartbreaking playoff loss to Padraig Harrington at Carnoustie in 2007. Coming off a T12 in Munich at T8 in France, the game’s coming into form for Garcia. Give him his first Claret Jug on Sunday.
Justin Rose: Learned my lesson at the U.S. Open. Right now, dude is a contender every single time he tees it up. So he’s going to be in the hunt. Will he win it? His chances are as good as anyone, and the guess here is yes. Can you believe it’s been 20 years since he burst onto the scene and nearly won The Open as an 18-year-old amateur?
It’s time for Tommy Fleetwood. He has the course record here, he almost stole the U.S. Open, and he’s cool enough to handle the moment.
How will Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson fare?
We ask this question every major, and with good reason: Tiger and Phil remain the biggest draw in golf two decades on. (Witness the excitement that greeted the news of their impending head-to-head matchup.) But it’s my sad duty to report — well, theorize — that we’re nearing the end of the road for Woods and Mickelson as viable major-championship follows. Woods’ latest “comeback” isn’t news anymore; until further notice, he’s a mid-pack player. And Mickelson might not even be that good any more. We want to see them make a run up the leaderboard — any tournament that has either of these two in the mix is instantly a remarkable tournament — but the facts don’t lie: if Woods and Mickelson make the weekend, and I give that less-than-50-50 odds, they’ll be done and gone early Sunday morning.
Wait, you mean Tiger and Phil aren’t just playing each other mano-a-mano?
Tiger Woods winning this week would surprise me more than his recent switch to a mallet putter — and that was pretty surprising. I’ll give Eldrick a top-30, but still don’t see the consistency needed to go home with a W.
Mickelson missed the cut in 1999 and 2007 at Carnoustie. Combine that with his last two stateside results – a T-48 at the U.S. Open at T-65 at the Greenbrier – and I say he gets another MC in Scotland.
Tiger’s M.O. lately is to have one part of his game locked in, but flail in the other two areas – be it off the tee, approach or short game. Because of that, the guess here is he’ll struggle to make the cut.
Crazy fact about Phil and The Open: He has four top-three finishes, including a win, but zero 4-10 finishes. So yeah, it’s all or nothing for him across the pond, meaning he’ll either win the damn thing or be heading home on his private plane Friday night.
I thought Tiger would be okay at Shinnecock and Phil would at least not embarrass himself, so I’m a little shell-shocked. I still think Tiger can will a better score than his ball striking suggests, but that will hardly crack the Top 30. Phil finishes around his age. Four rounds each, but no real run from either.
More from Yahoo Sports:
• France storms to second World Cup title in victory over Croatia
• Pussy Riot claims responsibility after fans invade World Cup pitch
• Cardinals fire manager Mike Matheny amid multiple controversies
• Manny Pacquiao shows vintage signs of dominance over Lucas Matthysse