Phil Mickelson won the Scottish Open and British Open in successive weeks last year. Who is the best bet to pull off the U.K. double in 2014? GolfChannel.com writers offer up the most likely candidates.
By REX HOGGARD
The 2010 Open Championship was Paul Casey’s best chance to win the event that means the most to the Englishman. Since that near miss, where he stumbled late and finished tied for third at St. Andrews, things only became more difficult.
Casey dropped to 169th in the Official World Golf Ranking and he lost his Tour card. But he rallied with his victory last year at the Irish Open and has steadily continued his climb back to the top.
He led through two rounds at the Memorial Tournament in May and posted another top-25 finish in his last start (BMW International Open), proving that he has discovered the consistency to claim the “Links Slam” starting with this week’s Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen.
Casey also has the experience to whether consecutive weeks on weather-torn golf courses. This will be the 36-year-old’s 12th Open Championship, where he has finished in the top 25 three times and made seven cuts.
But most importantly, Casey has endured enough off the golf course – including numerous injuries and a painful divorce – to make any adversity on the pitch appear trivial.
In 2010 at St. Andrews, Casey proved he had the game to compete for the claret jug. Now he has the toughness to win the “Links Slam.”
By RYAN LAVNER
Phil Mickelson’s double dip may have been an anomaly, but it’s worth noting that each of the past four winners of the Open Championship have teed it up the week prior at the Scottish Open. Donald won this event in 2011, when it was played at Castle Stuart, and he added top-20s in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2012.
The former world No. 1 is still major-less, but he’s proven to be a strong performer at the year’s third major. Since 2009, he has two missed cuts but also three finishes inside the top 11. The high rough around many of the greens at Hoylake will put an emphasis on short-game creativity, and no one in the world is better with a wedge in his hands than Donald.
Though he’s coming off a few shaky starts at Memorial and Pinehurst, Donald tied for third at the BMW PGA the last time he played across the pond.
By RANDALL MELL
Have 16 years really passed since Justin Rose stormed onto the international scene finishing fourth as a 17-year-old amateur at the British Open at Royal Birkdale?
It doesn’t seem possible, but after some early trials and tribulations all the promise he showed that week has come together for this man in his major championship prime. He broke through to win the U.S. Open at Merion a year ago and nobody will be surprised if he shows he’s ready to finally claim the claret jug. He’s coming off that Quicken Loans victory at a tough track at Congressional in his last start and so takes a load of confidence with him to this week’s Scottish Open and next week’s British Open at Royal Liverpool. It’s no easy task winning them both as Phil Mickelson did a year ago, but Rose is as game as anyone to sweep the Scottish and British opens. He has the all-around game, confidence and momentum to pull it off.
By JASON SOBEL
Let's not think too long and too hard about this question, because the list of players capable of winning back-to-back big-time events doesn't extend past a lonely few. So I'm taking a guy who's shown in the past that when he gets hot, he gets really hot and can go on the type of two-week victory jaunt that we witnessed from Phil Mickelson last year.
I'm taking Rory McIlroy.
And yes, I know the knock on Rory is that he plays his best golf on long, rain-soaked courses and has yet to conquer fast, firm, links tracks, but that only means he hasn't, not that he can't.
McIlroy is one of the few players in the world who can get into a two-week zone and be dialed in from start to finish.