British Open Odds 2012: Latest Predictions and Analysis for Top 50 Golfers

Fred Altvater@@tolohgolfrContributor IIJuly 16, 2012

British Open Odds 2012: Latest Predictions and Analysis for Top 50 Golfers

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    Royal Lytham & St. Annes will host the the 141st Open Championship July 19-22.

    It will be the 12th time that Royal Lytham has hosted an Open Championship.

    Former champions here include:  Bobby Jones, Bobby Locke, Peter Thomson, Tony Jacklin, Gary Player, Seve Ballesteros (twice), Tom Lehman and David Duval.

    With so many of the world's top players playing well at the moment, it should be another exciting major event. Let's take a look at the top 50 contenders.

No. 50 Jamie Donaldson

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    Jamie Donaldson joined the European Tour in 2001 and has made 166 cuts in 256 starts.

    He is a true journeyman golfer with only 33 career top 10s and over €4.0 in prize money.

    The 37-year-old professional just completed the best week of his golfing career by winning the Irish Open at Royal Portrush.

    He outlasted a field that included major winners Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington, and Rory McIlroy.

    He obviously knows how to play in the wind, rain and challenging conditions of a links style golf course.

    Ladbrokes has Donaldson rated at 100/1.  He will enter the Open Championship with a ton of confidence and, with his experience, could be a factor.

    Anyone for a long-shot bet?

No. 49 Thorbjorn Olesen

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    The 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham will only be 22-year-old Olesen's second major start.

    He missed the cut in the 2011 Open Championship.

    In just his second full season on the European Tour, he has four top-10 finishes including a win in the Sicilian Open in April.

    The Dane is still learning the ropes as a professional golfer and has a ton of talent but is a super long shot at 100/1 to win the 2012 Open Championship. .

    Better luck next year, kid.

No. 48 George Coetzee

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    George Coetzee has four wins on the Sunshine Tour.  He has also played on the Canadian and European Tours.

    He joined the European Tour in 2010 but didn't earn enough money to keep his card.  He did get it back for 2011 via Q-School.

    Coetzee had five top 10s in 2011 on the European Tour and finished in 26th on the Race to Dubai.

    He has continued his solid play in 2012 with four top 10s and 12 cuts made in 15 events.

    He has moved to No. 74 on the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) and could be a future star.

    At 100/1, this will probably will not be the week for him to capture his first major title, however.

No. 47 Martin Laird

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    Scotsman Martin Laird has two PGA Tour wins on his resume, but he has only made the cut in three of 11 major championship events.

    He is having a very good 2012 on the PGA Tour, however, with two runner-up finishes and seven top 25s in 16 starts.

    Laird is ninth in Greens in Regulation and fifth in Birdie Average on the tour, but he is 147th in Scrambling.

    Royal Lytham demands a solid short game around the tricky greens.

    At 100/1 odds, unless Martin Laird suddenly finds a world-class short game, he does not seem a good bet for the 2012 Open Championship.

No. 46 Bo Van Pelt

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    Bo Van Pelt is one of those guys that has a solid all-around game and makes a ton of money  but never wins an event.

    He only has one win on the PGA Tour in 310 starts but has 103 top 25s and has won nearly $17 million on in his career.

    His best finish in a major was a T-8 in the 2011 Masters.

    Most recently he was tied with Tiger Woods after the third round of the AT&T National at Congressional.  

    He was able to hang with Tiger until late in his round when two untimely bogeys dropped him back to a second-place finish.

    Still, the AT&T was a good confidence boost and learning experience for Van Pelt.

    He is currently ranked No 18 on the FedEx Cup and No. 25 on the OWGR.

    He definitely has the game for Royal Lytham.  Being able to handle the wind and elements may be another question.

    Ladbrokes has him listed at a 100/1 odds to win.  I think that may a little disrespectful to a very solid PGA Tour professional, but I don't think he will win this week either.

No. 45 Aaron Baddeley

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    Aaron Baddeley has been a professional golfer for 12 years. He started his career in Australia and won on that tour when still a teenage amateur.

    Badds has never quite reached the total success that was predicted for him. He has been a steady performer and has three PGA Tour and two European Tour wins. He is known for possessing one of the best putting strokes in the world.

    He is ranked at 100/1 odds for this Open Championship.

    Royal Lytham is similar to the courses that he grew up on in Australia, and he could be a good long-shot bet.

No. 44 Zach Johnson

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    At 100/1 odds for Zach Johnson, this is a bet that has some merit.

    Zach is a control player with an outstanding short game.  Royal Lytham should be a perfect fit for him.

    He is also currently ranked No. 8 on the Ryder Cup Standings and wants to be on that team.

    Points from a high finish at the Open Championship would go a long way to securing his spot for Medinah in September.

    Zach has won a major before, and this is not his first rodeo.

    I think he could be a factor before the 2012 Open Championship is over.

No. 43 Bill Haas

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    Bill Haas won the 2011 Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup, but he is getting no love, rated at 100/1 odds from the bettors on Ladbrokes. 

    He also won the Northern Trust Open at Riviera, beating Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley in a playoff.

    Since his win in February, his best finish has been a T-25 in 11 events.

    Haas has a solid all-around game but maybe is underachieving right now.

    I am not too sure he will find the strong winds and possible foul weather that Royal Lytham can experience a plus for his game either.

    Maybe they do have it right at 100/1.

No. 42 Fredrik Jacobson

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    Fredrik Jacobson has one PGA Tour win in 207 starts, but he has won nearly $13 million on tour.

    He is rather suspect off the tee and may hit some wayward fairway shots at times, but he is an excellent putter and just seems to get it done somehow.

    Freddie Yock has played in ten Open Championships, and his best finish was a T-6 in 2003.

    His only other top-10 finish in a major was a T-5 in the 2003 U.S. Open.

    He is rated at 100/1 odds by Ladbrokes, and they may have that about right.

    There is always next year, Freddie.

No. 41 Darren Clarke

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    Darren Clarke realized his dream of winning the Open Championship and drinking from the Claret Jug at 42 years old.

    He seems to be stuck in a year-long hangover from his victory last year.

    Clarke is at the tail end of his golfing career and is perfectly happy with a new wife and his lifestyle.

    He is rated as a 100/1 shot for the 2012 Open and has shown no reason over the past several months why he should be ranked that high.

    Darren has been a European Ryder Cup standout for a long time and a force on the European Tour.  

    I am not too sure that golf is a high priority for him right now.

No. 40 Alvaro Quiros

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    Alvaro Quiros has six European Tour wins and hits the golf ball a very long way.

    He has played in 14 major championships and only made four cuts with his best finish being a T-11 at the 2010 Open Championship.

    He is known for his prodigious length off the tee and accurate iron play.

    He is rated at 100/1 by Ladbrokes and does not appear to have the touch around the greens that Royal Lytham will require.

    You may want to consider someone else when picking your long shots.

No. 39 Robert Karlsson

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    Robert Karlsson, 42, joined the European Tour in 1991 and has 11 victories.

    He now resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, and joined the PGA tour in 2011.

    Robert has not found the winners circle on the PGA Tour but has won over $4.5 million. He has an excellent record in the majors with top-10 finishes in all four of the major championships.

    Karlsson is not having his best year in 2012 with only two top 25s in 11 starts. It doesn't appear that his game is in the right place to contend at Royal Lytham.

    100/1 odds seem about right for him.

No. 38 Branden Grace

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    Branden Grace, 24, is the next hot golfer to come out of South Africa.

    Bobby Locke, Gary Player,Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen have all gone before and won major championships.

    Grace had two Sunshine Tour victories but burst onto the world golf stage this year with three European Tour wins.

    This will only be his third major championship start.  He had a T-43 in the 2009 Open Championship and a T-51 at Olympic Club in the 2012 U. S. Open.

    He is playing with a ton of confidence right now and, at 80/1, odds may be someone to consider when laying down your wagers.

No. 37 Keegan Bradley

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    Keegan Bradley won the first major that he was eligible to play, the 2011 PGA Championship.

    He has since made the cut at the Masters and the U.S. Open.

    Bradley is having a respectable year.  He has made 15 of 18 cuts, was runner-up at Riviera and has 10 top-25 finishes.

    He is ranked No. 23 in the FedEx Cup and No. 23 in the OWGR.

    He recently played in the Irish Open to gain some experience on links style courses and learn a bit about European weather.

    He is 80/1 to win his first Open Championship.

    Keegan has the game, but I am not sure he has the overall experience necessary to do well in an Open Championship.

No. 36 Geoff Ogilvy

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    Geoff Ogilvy is not having one of his best years. He has made 12 of 14 cuts but has no top-10 finishes and only six top 25s. He has fallen to No. 53 in the OWGR and is No. 83 in the FedEx Cup.

    His statistics from this year are terrible.  Geoff is normally a very straight driver, but he is ranked No. 110 in driving distance and No. 70 in driving accuracy.  Short and crooked is not a very good combination for a professional golfer.

    Geoff is rated at 80/1 for the Open. 

    I give him a lot less chance than that this year.

No. 35 K. J. Choi

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    At 42 years old, K. J. Choi has been a very solid performer for a long time. He has eight PGA Tour titles in his career, and he has won on some very good golf courses: Congressional, Muirfield Village and TPC Sawgrass just to name a few.

    He has performed well in major championships with several top 10s, but he has never been able to seal the deal.

    K. J. has not played his best golf this year with only one top-10 in 15 starts.

    He is an accurate driver of the golf ball and hits very good iron shots.  His chipping and putting are somewhat average and are probably what has held him back in the majors.

    He is rated at 80/1 for the Open.  That seems generous.

No. 34 Retief Goosen

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    Retief Goosen, 43, has won two U.S. Opens but has struggled over the past couple of years with back problems.

    When he was one of the top five players in the world, he was known has being one of the world's best putters on fast greens.

    He now uses the long putter, and his putting stats are not impressive.  He is No. 127 in Strokes Gained Putting on the PGA Tour in 2012.

    Goose has fallen to No. 63 in the OWGR and only has one top 10 on tour this year.

    He still makes a ton of money and will have flashes of brilliance, but cold windy conditions do not favor a sore back.

    At 80/1 odds, he is a true long shot this year.

No. 33 Ben Curtis

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    Ben Curtis, a 66/1 long shot, won the 2003 Open Championship at Royal St. Georges as a 300/1 shot.

    It was his first appearance in a major championship.

    Ben has made a comeback this year with one win, a runner-up finish and five top 25s in just ten events played.

    He has moved up to No. 76 OWGR and has regained his PGA Tour status along with a two-year exemption for his win at the Valero Texas Open.

    When he is motivated, Ben can compete with the best.

    Will he be motivated to win the 2012 Open Championship?

    That's the question.

No. 32 Thomas Bjorn

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    Thomas Bjorn is 41 years old and has 13 European Tour titles.  He was runner-up in both the 2000 and 2003 Open Championships.

    Bjorn had a return to glory when he won three European Tour events in 2011.  He has always been a solid player but has let a couple of big tournaments slip away down the stretch.

    He is rated as a 66/1 favorite for the 2012 Open Championship.

    It would be a story just as big as Darren Clarke's win last year if Thomas were to hold the Claret Jug.

No. 31 Nicolas Colsaerts

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    In just his second major championship start, Nicolas Colsaerts briefly held the lead during the third round of the 2012 U. S. Open at Olympic Club, but he shot a 76 on Sunday and fell to T-27.

    He missed the cut in the 2004 Open Championship and has not been eligible for any other major tournaments.

    Colsaerts won the Volvo China Open in April 2011 and the Volvo Match Play in May of this year beating Graeme McDowell in the final.

    He turned professional in 2000 on his 18th birthday but struggled to gain status on the European Tour.

    With his two recent wins, it appears that he is finally on the right track and may realize his potential.

    He is rated at 66/1 odds for this Open, but I don't that is enough.

No. 30 Ross Fisher

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    Ross Fisher has not had a win since August 2010 at the 3 Irish Open.  He was a star on the European Tour from 2007 to 2010 but has struggled over the past two years.

    He may just be on the verge of regaining his game as he has posted top-10 finishes in his last four events.

    Fisher plays difficult golf courses very well.  If he can find his confidence and some resemblance of his old golf game, he could be a good bet at 66/1 odds.

    He may just be finding his game at the right time.

No. 29 Peter Hanson

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    Peter Hanson had a very strong start in early 2012.

    He even posted a T-3 at the Masters in early April and earned enough money to be granted an exemption to the PGA Tour for 2012.

    Hanson also had a top-10 in the 2011 U. S. Open but missed the cut this year at Olympic.

    He has never finished better than T-24 in an Open Championship.  He is rated at 66/1 odds for the Open, and that's probably about right for him this year.

No. 28 Nick Watney

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    Nick Watney is one of the group of really good young American players.  He has four career wins on the PGA Tour but has not been as consistent in 2012.  Nick had two wins and a second-place finish in 2011 but only has three top-10s in 16 events in 2012.

    It is only normal that a young golfer's career ebbs and flows, and I am sure Watney will get his game back, but right now he is not at peak performance.

    His 66/1 odds for the Open seem about right.

No. 27 Paul Lawrie

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    Paul Lawrie, 42, joined the European Tour in 1992, has seven European Tour wins and won the 1999 Open Championship.

    From 1999 to 2002, Lawrie was one of the most consistent performers on the European Tour with four wins and 14 top 10s.

    With his major win, he became eligible to play on the PGA Tour and struggled to find success in the U.S.

    From 2003 to 2010, Lawrie had zero wins and only a few top 10s.  He regained his form in 2011 and won at Andalucia and had three more top-10's. 

    Lawrie also has a win, a runner-up, and a third-place finish in 2012.  He has moved back to No. 31 on the OWGR and is No. 8 in the Race to Dubai.

    He is rated at 50/1 odds for this Open, and although he has found his lost golf game, it doesn't appear that he is ready to win another major anytime soon.

No. 26 Bubba Watson

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    With his win at the 2012 Masters, Bubba Watson has become a full-blown rock star.

    He can be seen walking red carpets, chatting up Letterman and Leno and giving sound bites to probing golf reporters.

    After his Masters win, Bubba honored his commitment to play in New Orleans at the Zurich Classic and finished T-18.

    He then took a month away from golf and spent some family time with his wife and newly adopted son.

    Since his return at the Memorial, Bubba has two missed cuts and a T-2 at the Travelers Championship.

    Watson is rated a 50/1 favorite to win, but I am not sure Royal Lytham is ready for "Bubba Golf."

No. 25 Steve Stricker

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    Mr. Nice Guy, Steve Stricker, won the first event of the year in Hawaii.

    Since then, he has only missed one cut and has four top 10s.

    Stricker is the model of consistency.  In 25 percent of the tournaments that he enters, he finishes in the top 10.

    He has done everything in his career except win a major and punch his ticket to the World Golf Hall of Fame.

    Strix is a 50/1 favorite to win this week.

    He plays every year the week prior to the Open Championship at the John Deere Classic, which he has won the last three years. 

    He came up a bit short at the Deere this year, but it had to be a tiring week for him.  He will have to rebound from playing in the heat in Iowa and a long flight, and then adjust to the cold damp weather conditions on the Northwest English coast.

    That is a tall task for anyone.

No. 24 Charl Schwartzel

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    Charl Schwartzel won the 2011 Masters and has been one of the best golfers in the world over the past two years.

    He has only played in eight events on the PGA Tour this year but has two top 10s.

    Schwartzel is No. 13 in the OWGR.

    He is rated at 50/1 odds to win the 2012 Open, and Royal Lytham could be a very good course for him.

    Charl was T-14 in the 2010 Open and T-16 last year.

    Schwartzel could be a solid pick for you to consider when choosing your favorites.

No. 23 Jason Day

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    Jason Day, who was rated at 50/1 and has had some success in major championships, withdrew from the 2012 Open Championship.

    He and his wife just had their first child, and Jason felt he needed to stay home with his family.

    He will be a factor in future majors.

No. 22 Jason Dufner

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    Jason Dufner has been one of the hottest golfers on the planet in 2012.

    He earned his first PGA Tour win at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans and got married the following week.

    Dufner and his new bride spent their honeymoon at the Players Championship where he finished T-68.

    He evidently was a little tired.

    Jason then won the HP Byron Nelson the next week and finished runner-up at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial the following week.

    After a couple weeks of R&R, he was T-4 at the U. S. Open.

    Married life seems to agree with him.

    He has moved up to No. 2 in the FedEx Cup standings and No. 7 on the OWGR.

    Dufner combines accuracy off the tee with premier iron play.  His greens in regulation combined with his proximity to the hole stats are near the top.

    In his lasts three majors, he has finished T-2, T-24 and T-4.

    At 40/1 odds, he is definitely worth a look when placing your bets.

No. 21 Jim Furyk

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    Jim Furyk won the FedEx Cup in 2010 and then had one of his worst years on tour in 2011.

    He rededicated himself, and his work in the offseason to improve his game has yielded positive results. He has finished 11th or better in six of his 15 starts this year.

    Except for a snipe hook with a fairway metal on the 16th tee at Olympic Club, he would have picked up his second U. S. Open Trophy.

    Furyk is the ultimate grinder.  Royal Lytham fits his game.

    He keeps the ball in play from the tee, hits quality iron shots and has an outstanding short game.

    You know he is still boiling over the missed opportunity at Olympic and wants to pick up another major to punch his ticket into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

    40/1 odds is a good bet for Jim Furyk.

No. 20 Ernie Els

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    Ernie Els had played in 75 consecutive major championships until the 2012 Masters.  He could not qualify to get into the field at Augusta for the first time since 1994.

    From 2000-2004, Els had a win and 14 top 10s in those 20 majors.  Those are Tiger-like numbers.

    Ernie played a brutal schedule early in 2012 attempting to qualify for the Masters and had solid performances.

    A balky putter down the stretch let him down at the Honda and prevented him from getting a win.

    He has moved back into No. 40 on the OWGR and posted a ninth place finish at the 2012 U. S. Open.

    Ernie is at 40/1 odds for the Open.  He has experience and his game back.  Ernie Els is a good bet anywhere.

No. 19 Francesco Molinari

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    Francesco Molinari has played in 14 major championships and missed the cut six times.

    He does have a win on the European Tour in 2012 at the Reale Seguros Open de Espana.

    Molinari is still a young player but has had some experience in links style golf.  He controls his ball very well and has a good short game.

    Ladbrokes has him rated at 40/1 odds for the Open at Royal Lytham.  He has the game, but I am not sure that he has the confidence yet to win a major.

No. 18 Webb Simpson

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    Webb Simpson won the 2012 U. S. Open at Olympic Club.

    He was a 40/1 favorite but decided to withdraw from the Open Championship due to the birth of his first child.

    Webb will have more opportunities to win golf tournaments.

    Your children are only born once.  That's a sure thing.  Best wishes to him and his wife.

No. 17 Hunter Mahan

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    Hunter Mahan has been one of the most consistent players over the past two years.

    He has not missed a cut in his last 40 events.

    Over the same period he has two wins, two runner-up finishes, 13 top 10s and 23 top 25s.

    In 27 major starts, he has missed the cut 10 times but does have four top 10s.

    His two wins in 2012 have provided him with a lot of confidence entering this year's Open Championship.

    Long and accurate from the tee coupled with an above-average iron game gives him an advantage over most of the field.

    Since his chipping debacle at the 2010 Ryder Cup, he has improved his short game, but it could be a big factor at Royal Lytham.

    Hunter is a 40/1 favorite to win the Open Championship. 

    He may just be ready to collect his first major.

No. 16 Louis Oosthuizen

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    Louis Oosthuizen is another one of the South African contingent that has performed so well over the past few years.

    He won the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews with a balanced swing in high winds that baffled the majority of the field.

    He made a rare Albatross on the par-5 eighth at the 2012 Masters and was witness to one of the greatest shots in golf history on Sunday.

    He was in the playoff when Bubba Watson hit his hook wedge from the trees onto the green at the second playoff hole to beat Oosthuizen and claim the Green Jacket.

    At 40/1 odds, Oosthuizen has the game and the control to win at Royal Lytham.

No. 15 Matt Kuchar

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    Matt Kuchar picked up the biggest win of his career earlier this year at the Players Championship.

    He has been a very consistent player over the past three years.  Matt has three top 10s and has not finished below T-27 in his last 12 major starts.  He posts top-25 finishes at a rate of 70 percent and has won over $20 million.

    The only thing lacking for Matt is that major championship.

    If Matt keeps putting himself close, he may just win a major sooner than later.  He has the game to be a factor at Royal Lytham and, at 40/1 odds, could be a sound bet.

No. 14 Adam Scott

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    This is 31-year-old Adam Scott's 12th year as a professional golfer.

    He has 23 worldwide wins and has been one of the leading golfers in the world for a long time.

    He desperately wants to get a major win.  Since 2002 he has seven top 10s in majors.  If you keep putting yourself in position, you will win one eventually.

    Is this the time for Adam Scott?

    At 40/1 odds, he may just be a good bet.

No. 13 Ian Poulter

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    Ian Poulter has 11 European Tour wins and one win on the PGA Tour.  He is a standout Ryder Cupper for the European squad and is always nattily dressed.

    Royal Lytham could be a good track for Poults.  He is not the longest off the tee but is relatively accurate and has a better-than-average short game.  He is 36 years old, and his time for winning a major is at hand.

    Ian is rated at 40/1 odds for the win.  I think I would want higher odds for my money.

No. 12 Rickie Fowler

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    Rickie Fowler is only 23 years old, has only played in 76 events on the PGA Tour and has won over $8 million.

    Nevertheless he was beginning to catch a lot of heat from the golfing press for not having a win on the PGA Tour.

    He stopped that discussion when he collected his win at the 2012 Wells Fargo.

    Fowler also played well in the 2011 Open Championship.  He put together a solid final round in cold, wet and windy conditions to finish T-5.

    Rickie played golf at Oklahoma State and practiced in wind, rain and cold.

    He is a 33/1 favorite to win, and I think he may be one of the best bets on the board.

No. 11 Justin Rose

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    Along with his win at Doral, Justin Rose also has five top 10s in just 12 events in 2012.  He is at the top of his game heading into the 2012 Open Championship.

    He is another of the good young players that have the game and experience to win a major.  His swing is solid, and he has the correct personality to perform well at Royal Lytham.

    33/1 odds from Ladbrokes make Rosie one of the favorites, and many pundits are picking him to get his first major championship title.

No. 10 Dustin Johnson

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    Dustin Johnson was off to a very fast start in the first three months of 2012, but injury forced him to miss most of March, all of April and all of May.

    His return has been a mixed bag, with a win at Memphis but also a missed cut and four poor finishes.

    He has the talent and the game to win a major, but I am not sure he will win the 2012 Open Championship.

    He has won twice and did perform well for three days in the 2010 U. S. Open at America's version of a links course, Pebble Beach.

    At 33/1 odds, he will win majors, probably just not this major.

No. 9 Graeme McDowell

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    Graeme McDowell, at 33/1 odds, has to be one of the favorites for the Open Championship.

    He did not have a good year by his standards in 2011 but has rebounded nicely in 2012.

    Most recently, he was runner-up to Webb Simpson at the U. S. Open.

    GMac can play difficult golf courses.  He knows how to manage his game and is experienced with the weather and links style golf required at Royal Lytham.

    McDowell has to be one of the top five favorites on everyone's list for the Open.

No. 8 Phil Mickelson

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    Early in 2012, Phil Mickelson won at the AT&T National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. 

    Shooting 64 on Sunday in the final round, he beat Tiger Woods by 11 shots.

    He played well the next week at Riviera and finished runner-up when he lost in a playoff to Bill Haas.

    Phil also had a good Masters.  A triple-bogey six on the par-3 No. 4 hole on Sunday cost him the Green Jacket.

    He made a valiant charge in the bad weather on Sunday in the final round of the 2011 Open and finished runner-up.

    Phil has three Green Jackets and a Wanamaker Trophy.  A Claret Jug would fit in nicely on his mantle.

    He is rated at 33/1 odds and could be a sound wager for the gambling man.

No. 7 Sergio Garcia

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    Sergio Garcia has flirted with winning more than one major championship.

    His flair for the game and laser-like iron play made him a can't-miss kid when he first burst onto the world golf scene.

    Missed putts, close calls and massive heartbreak have taken a toll on the emotional Spaniard.

    If Sergio can get his head completely into the game and not let his emotions override his magnificent golf, he could be a factor on Sunday at the Open.

    33/1 odds on Sergio may be worth a second look for the observant bettor.

No. 6 Martin Kaymer

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    Do you remember that Martin Kaymer won the 2010 PGA Championship and was ranked No. 1 in the world for a time?

    He changed his swing in 2011, and that experiment did not produce the desired results.

    Kaymer also just announced that he is cutting back on his commitments outside of golf.  He feels that he has been unable to prepare for tournaments in the manner that will allow him to be successful.

    He is only 27 years, has one of the best swings in golf and already has a major. When he gets things figured out, he will win more majors.

    He is rated at 33/1 for the Open Championship.  I'm not sure Royal Lytham will fit his game right now.

No. 5 Padraig Harrington

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    Padraig Harrington has two Claret Jugs and a Wanamaker Trophy, but he has not had a win since 2008.

    He is a constant tinkerer.  He lost his swing and has just recently began to find some of the form that won him his three majors.

    Harrington is an expert on links style golf.  Royal Lytham will fit his eye, and he could be in the mix on Sunday.

    I would not rate him slightly higher than 20/1, but Paddy is a solid bet nonetheless. 

No. 4 Luke Donald

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    Luke Donald had a fantastic year in 2011.  He won four events and the money titles on both the PGA and European Tours.

    Luke has been the most consistent golfer in the world over the past two and half years and has been the No. 1 ranked player for over 52 weeks.  The only thing that he hasn't done is win a major.

    Royal Lytham could be an excellent place for him to remedy this fact.

    There are very few players on the planet that can play iron shots better than Luke.  He is phenomenal with a wedge in his hand and a wizard on the green.  The only thing that can hold him back is his somewhat erratic driving. 

    He is rated at 16/1 odds, and he has to be in the top five on any list of players with the game capable of winning the Open Championship.

    If he can keep it out of the fairway bunkers, he may just get his Claret Jug.

No. 3 Rory McIlroy

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    We tend to forget that Rory McIlroy is only 23 years old. 

    He has six professional wins, including the 2011 U.S. Open, and has even been ranked No. 1 for a few weeks.

    Rory's 2012 has been a tale of two seasons. From February to May, he had a win at the Honda, two runner-up finishes and a third place in his first five events.

    Since then, he has missed the cut at the Players, the Memorial and the U.S. Open.  He did manage a T-7 at Memphis the week before the U.S. Open.

    He has been hobnobbing the world with his main squeeze, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.

    Rory has gone into a bit of a slump this summer.  He is a 16/1 favorite to win the Open.  He has the talent and the game. 

    But is his head in the right place?

No. 2 Lee Westwood

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    Lee Westwood has been a top-ranked golfer for a long time.

    He lost his game for a time but got it back and has been able to maintain a very high level of play for several years.

    He has won 39 professional tournaments, 22 on the European Tour alone, and has even been ranked No. 1 for a short while.

    In the last 17 major championships, he has nine top-10 finishes.

    It is truly a mystery how he has not managed to pick up a major or two.

    Westwood is an excellent iron player and accurate off the tee.  His chipping could be better, and he is an adequate putter, but he just doesn't seem to make the putts when he needs to in the big events.

    Lee Westwood is a 12/1 favorite to win the Open.

    He, like Luke Donald, needs a major to validate his career.

    He certainly doesn't want to end his career like fellow Englishman Colin Montgomerie, with zero major titles.

No. 1 Tiger Woods

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    Tiger Woods has one runner-up finish, three wins and has collected over $4 million in earnings in 2012.

    He has also had two T-40s and two missed cuts along the way.

    Woods is definitely not the consistent performer that we have seen in the past, but he still has plenty of game.

    Royal Lytham will require Tiger to hit his low running stinger shot from the tee and avoid finding the more than 200 bunkers that litter the fairways.  Tiger appears to be more comfortable on the greens, and his distance control with his irons is improving with every shot.

    Tiger is the leading favorite at 6/1 to win his 15th major and get one closer to Jack Nicklaus.

    I wouldn't bet against him.