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John Hawkins - July 18, 2012

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When it comes to his Open Championship favorites, Hawkins said that the last two Champions at Royal Lytham – Tom Lehman and David Duval – were both former World #1 players who earned their first Major wins based almost entirely on their game from tee to green. Using those standards, Hawkins said that Lee Westwood was his pick to win The Open Championship as the former World #1 would win his first Major with ball striking as the foundation of his success on the course.

There have been nine consecutive first-time Major Champions entering this week and the biggest reason for that is there are simply more quality players in professional golf than there have ever been. Young players are ready to compete on the Major stage earlier than ever and the fact that Tiger Woods isn’t winning almost all of the Majors is another contributing factor.

Asked to choose if Donald or Westwood were more likely to win The Open Championship with a 1 shot lead after 54 holes, Hawkins said ball striking is more reliable down the stretch than putting and based on that theory, Lee Westwood would be more likely to win. Luke Donald is a great putter and while he does not doubt that Donald could pull off a win, he just does not think that putting is as strong under pressure as ball striking.

With the weather conditions this week and the length of the rough, Hawkins thinks that 8 or 9 under will be the winning score and two players he is paying attention to are Justin Rose and Hunter Mahan. Both are solid players and although Rose does not drive the ball as well or as consistently as Mahan, he definitely has the pedigree and the qualifications to contend and win in this Major Championship.