The Open Championship has certainly had its share of fluky champions over the years. So this year it begs the question: Will a top-20 ranked player win the Open Championship? Jay Coffin and Jason Sobel offer up their opinions.
BY JAY COFFIN
SANDWICH, England – I hope so, but fear the answer will be no, just by process of elimination.
Only 19 of the top-20 are here (at No. 19, Tiger Woods is the only one missing) and the year’s first two major winners – Charl Schwartzel and Rory McIlroy – are both in that group. It’s unlikely to think that either would win two majors this year, even McIlroy, who blew away the field at the U.S. Open three short weeks ago. Phil Mickelson plays terribly at the Open Championship so that brings the number down to 16 who have a realistic chance to take home the claret jug.
I’m convinced that the winner here will be from outside that group. However, it doesn’t mean that this week will produce a dud winner. There are several names outside the top-20 who could make for a good story here at Royal St. George’s. Ernie Els (No. 24), Matteo Manassero (No. 29), Rickie Fowler (No. 52), Sergio Garcia (No. 53) or Padraig Harrington (No. 57) would all fit that bill nicely.
This place has been called quirky more than once this week, which means that the person who deals with the elements – wind, rain and awkward bounces – is going to be the most successful. That essentially means that this Open is up for grabs.
BY JASON SOBEL
SANDWICH, England – I’ve already written that the upcoming Open Championship is wide open – and yet, I still believe the claret jug will be captured by one of the world’s best players.
For years, the most pertinent question before majors was, “Tiger or the field?” Well, the game’s 19th-ranked player isn’t competing this week, but I like my chances with, “Luke, Lee, Martin, Rory, Steve, Phil, Matt, Jason, Graeme, Nick, Charl, Dustin, K.J., Paul, Bubba, Ian, Adam, Robert and Hunter or the field?”
Specifically, I think this is Lee Westwood’s time. The game’s best current ball-striker has been primed to win a major championship for years, only to continually come up woefully short, with five top-3 finishes in the last three seasons.
In that time, he’s witnessed younger peers such as Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy claim major wins. He’s risen to No. 1 in the world. And he’s grown hungrier to get a major of his own.
I’m feeling good about my Westwood pick, but feeling even better about having those 18 other guys to back up my case. Yes, it’s true that anyone can win this week, but I still think that certain “anyone” will happen to be one of the world’s best.