Expert picks: British Open


The best players in the world head to Muirfield Golf Club this week for the season's third major, the Open Championship. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players, based on Golf Channel's fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel includes: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams and staff writer Ryan Lavner. They are joined by former 'Saturday Night Live' star Norm Macdonald, who will serve as a celebrity guest.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Tiger Woods: The elbow injury is a concern, but Muirfield looks a lot like Hoylake did in 2006 when the world No. 1 bunted his way to a brilliant victory. And, as he pointed out on Tuesday, he has won four times this year.

Group 2: Louis Oosthuizen: He already has one Open championship and if the wind comes up off the Firth of Forth this week, he's proven he has the game to dominate both the field and Mother Nature.

Group 3: Scott Piercy: Played well earlier this year on the West Coast and has the length (22nd on Tour in driving distance) to overpower Muirfield.

Group 4: Danny Willett: Has shown good form in recent weeks (T-10 at The Irish Open) and has proven he can play links courses, following his tie for fifth at last year's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.


Jason Sobel

Group 1: Adam Scott: With eight top-25s in his last 10 major starts, nobody has been better prepared for the big ones.

Group 2: Nicolas Colsaerts: Big bomber is ready to make the next leap - if not to major winner, then at least serious major contender. 

Group 3: Martin Laird: The home country's best hope is fresh off the best score of the day in the final round at Castle Stuart. 

Group 4: Tom Watson: Muirfield will be fast and firm, and that calls for brains over brawn. Nobody has more experience than Watson. 



Randall Mell

Group 1: Tiger Woods: All the pieces finally come together again in a major on a course where Woods won't have to use his driver. The iron play, the wedge play, short game and putting we've seen returning the last two seasons all work together this week.

Group 2: Lee Westwood: At 40, the Englishman's ball striking still sets him apart on a course where he may not have to make a load of birdie putts to win.

Group 3: Carl Pettersson: At Hoylake in '06, Pettersson managed his way around firm and fast conditions quite well (T-8).

Group 4: Stewart Cink: Some promising efforts this season should embolden him as a past champ.