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Power Rankings: British Open

Tiger Woods in a practice round for the 2013 British Open
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While American golf fans may prefer the Masters or the U.S. Open, the Open Championship is likely the most iconic international event in the world of golf. Muirfield Golf Club plays host this week to the season's third major, as players will be greeted by a firm links course that appears more brown than green.

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Ernie Els returns to defend the Claret Jug, having won a year ago in dramatic fashion over a faltering Adam Scott at Royal Lytham. Here are 10 players to watch this week in Scotland:

1. Tiger Woods: Injury issues aside, Woods remains a deserved favorite amid a wide-open field. Already a winner four times this season, he won the most recent of his three Open titles at firm, fast Hoylake in 2006 in conditions similar to those anticipated this week.

2. Ernie Els: A winner last year, Els also hoisted the Claret Jug in 2002, the last time the Open was held at Muirfield. Though he missed the cut last week in Scotland, he won the start prior in Germany and his record in this event is outstanding: 10 top-10 finishes in 16 career starts, with his '02 title capping a run of eight top-10 results in 10 years from 2000-2009.

3. Phil Mickelson: A winner last week at Castle Stuart, Mickelson brings to Muirfield abundant confidence and a self-professed love for links golf in general and this week's venue specifically. The four-time major winner has four top-three finishes in his last six worldwide starts, including a near-miss at last month's U.S. Open.

4. Graeme McDowell: The epitome of 'feast or famine,' McDowell has three wins and five missed cuts in his last eight worldwide starts. There's reason to believe this week's result will tend toward the feast option, though, as the Ulsterman has notched four top-25 finishes in nine career Open starts, including last year's tie for fifth at Royal Lytham, where he played in the final pairing on Sunday.

5. Adam Scott: After last year's heartbreaking collapse at Lytham, the Aussie rebounded to win the Masters this past April. Including his 2012 runner-up, Scott's recent record in the season's third major has been solid, with a missed cut in 2009 his only finish outside the top 30 since 2006. Has finished inside the top 25 in eight of the last 10 worldwide majors.

6. Jason Day: Appearing to be on the verge of a major triumph, Day has come close at each of the first two majors this year and has recorded four top-three finishes in majors since 2011. The Aussie has played the weekend in both of his prior Open appearances, and this year has notched five top-10 finishes in 14 PGA Tour starts without missing a cut.

7. Luke Donald: The Englishman has finished T-11 or better at the Open three times in the last four years, including a tie for fifth a year ago. He's been consistent in that stretch, carding only one round over 73 at the British Open since 2009. Currently ranks seventh on the PGA Tour in scoring average, sixth in strokes gained putting and finished inside the top-25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open earlier this year.

8. Justin Rose: Making his first start in a major since winning the U.S. Open last month, the Englishman returns to the event where he burst onto the international scene 15 years ago at Royal Birkdale. That fourth-place showing as a 17-year-old, though, remains his only top-10 in this event. Rose has missed two of the last three British cuts, but with newfound confidence heads to Muirfield where he was in contention 11 years ago before finishing T-22.

9. Dustin Johnson: Though he's been erratic this season, Johnson has been surprisingly consistent in this event. His 2013 campaign includes a win and four other top-15 finishes, but also contains a pair of missed cuts along with multiple withdrawals. He's been inside the top 15 each of the last three years at the Open, though, including a runner-up showing in 2011.

10. Sergio Garcia: With his controversial comments somewhat behind him, Garcia returns to an event where he has had considerable success. Though his playoff loss in 2007 is most notable, the Spaniard has had seven top-10 finishes in this event since 2001, including an eighth-place showing at Muirfield in 2002. Tied for eighth at the Masters in April and nearly defeated Woods at TPC Sawgrass a month later.