British Open Favorites 2012: Championship Odds for World's Top Players

Carlos TorresContributor IJuly 18, 2012

British Open Favorites 2012: Championship Odds for World's Top Players

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    The Open is less than 24 hours away, and expectations about golf's third major of the year grows by the minute.

    The 156-player field will take the Royal Lytham & St. Annes course starting at 6:19 a.m. BST (1:19 a.m. EST) on Thursday.

    American James Driscoll and Englishman Barry Lane will be the twosome comprising the first group that take aim toward the goal of winning The Open and lifting the Claret Jug on Sunday.

    According to AccuWeather.com, some rough weather is expected on opening day, followed by scattered showers on Friday and Saturday before some clouds and the sun will rule the skies on Sunday.

    The only player in the top 10 on the official world golf rankings not present will be Webb Simpson, who is back home to be with his wife for the birth of their second child.

    So let's take a brief look at the odds for top 10 players in the world at The Open and their odds at winning it this year according to VegasInsider.com.

Zach Johnson (USA)

1 of 10

    World Ranking: 11

    Odds: 80-1

    Best Open Finish: T16 (2011)

    Thursday Tee Time: 9:09 a.m. BST (4:09 a.m. EST)

    Friday Tee Time: 2:10 p.m. BST (9:10 a.m. EST)

    Pairing: Darren Clarke and Ernie Els

    Johnson is coming fresh off his victory at the John Deere Classic thanks making birdie in a playoff after an amazing bunker shot with a 6-iron from 193 yards that stopped inches short of the hole.

    It was his second victory of 2012, and that moved him up six spots in the World Golf Rankings to 11th, a career-high. Johnson was 13th for three consecutive weeks in May of 2007.

    It couldn't come at a better time, as he will carry that momentum into The Open where he recorded his best finish last year (T16).

Hunter Mahan (USA)

2 of 10

    World Ranking: 10

    Odds: 40-1

    Best Open Finish: T6 (2007)

    Thursday Tee Time: 1:59 p.m. BST (8:59 a.m. EST)

    Friday Tee Time: 8:42 a.m. BST (3:42 a.m. EST)

    Pairing: Nicolas Colsaerts and John Senden

    Mahan has won the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship and the Shell Houston Open this year.

    He is a streaker ball-striker. When he gets going he can light up any course.

    He also seems to be peaking toward a hot streak as he comes from an 11th-place finish at The Travelers and an eighth-place finish at the AT&T National where he led after two rounds.

Justin Rose (ENG)

3 of 10

    World Ranking: 9

    Odds: 30-1

    Best Open Finish: T4 (1998)

    Thursday Tee Time: 9:42 a.m. BST (4:42 a.m. EST)

    Friday Tee Time: 2:43 p.m. BST (9:43 a.m. EST)

    Pairing: Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia

    For the fourth time in an Open Championship, Rose will be paired with Tiger Woods. They played the first two rounds of the Open at Muirfield in 2002, Carnoustie in 2007 and St. Andrews two years ago.

    This has left Rose answering questions on his pairing with Woods instead of talking about reaching a career-high sixth spot in the world rankings for the first time since 2007, or about winning his first WGC Championship at the Cadillac Championship.

    Or he could be talking about leading the Race to Dubai, having six top-10 finishes this year or the fact that, until last week, he was the tour's leader in stroke average.

Matt Kuchar (USA)

4 of 10

    World Ranking: 8

    Odds: 50-1

    Best Open Finish: T27 (2010)

    Thursday Tee Time: 8:42 a.m. BST (3:42 a.m. EST)

    Friday Tee Time: 1:43 p.m. BST (8:43 a.m. EST)

    Pairing: Adam Scott and Alan Dunbar (amateur)

    Kuchar won the Vardon Trophy and Byron Nelson Award in 2010 for lowest scoring average and the PGA Tour's Arnold Palmer Award for leading the money list.

    It was that year that he had his best Open Championship finish (T27). It is the only time he made the cut in six tries.

    This year, Kuchar has been on the rise again. He finished tied for third at The Masters and won The Players Championship, helping him reach the No. 5 ranking in the world.

Jason Dufner (USA)

5 of 10

    World Ranking: 7

    Odds: 40-1

    Best Open Finish: Missed Cut (2010-11)

    Thursday Tee Time: 10:15 a.m. BST (5:15 a.m. EST)

    Friday Tee Time: 3:16 p.m. BST (10:16 a.m. EST)

    Pairing: Martin Laird and Kevin Na

    Dufner started to appear as a small blip on the PGA Tour radar last year when he lost the Waste Management Phoenix Open to Mark Wilson in a playoff.

    That blip got bigger when he led the PGA Championship by five strokes with four holes to play and eventually lost to Keegan Bradley in yet again, another playoff.

    This year, he is no longer just a blip on the radar. He may be the second hottest player on the planet coming into The Open.

    He won the Zurich Classic, then won the HP Byron Nelson Championship, finished second at the Crowne Plaza Invitational and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Bubba Watson (USA)

6 of 10

    World Ranking: 6

    Odds: 50-1

    Best Open Finish: T30 (2011)

    Thursday Tee Time: 9:20 a.m. BST (4:20 a.m. EST)

    Friday Tee Time: 2:21 p.m. BST (9:21 a.m. EST)

    Pairing: Lee Westwood and Yoshinori Fujimoto

    The inventive, shot-making Watson is enjoying the best year of his career.

    At the WGC Cadillac Championship he was one 10-foot birdie putt away from forcing a playoff with Justin Rose, and later he finished tied for fourth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    Two weeks later, he won his first career major at The Masters in sensational fashion on a playoff over Louis Oosthuizen, thanks to a masterful recovery sky hook-shot that landed on the 10th green within 15 feet of the cup.

    Watson then took some time off to stay with his wife and adopted baby, and upon returning missed two straight cuts. But in his last start at The Travelers a month ago, he finished tied for second, showing the form that took him to his recent success.

Tiger Woods (USA)

7 of 10

    World Ranking: 4

    Odds: 4-1

    Best Open Finish: Won (2000, 2005-06)

    Thursday Tee Time: 9:42 a.m. BST (4:42 a.m. EST)

    Friday Tee Time: 2:43 p.m. BST (9:43 a.m. EST)

    Pairing: Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia

    Woods is looking to gain some ground on Jack Nicklaus' all-time majors record as he goes for his 15th career major championship and fourth Open title.

    He is the only three-time winner this year, having won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Memorial Tournament (Nicklaus' tournament) and the AT&T National (Woods' tournament) passing Nicklaus for second all-time on the PGA Tour wins list with 74.

    Woods entered the previous two majors coming off wins in his previous start. He will play in The Open coming off a missed cut at the Greenbrier Classic.

Lee Westwood (ENG)

8 of 10

    World Ranking: 3

    Odds: 15-1

    Best Open Finish: 2nd (2010)

    Thursday Tee Time: 9:20 a.m. BST (4:20 a.m. EST)

    Friday Tee Time: 2:21 p.m. BST (9:21 a.m. EST)

    Pairing: Bubba Watson and Yoshinori Fujimoto

    Lee Westwood is arguably the best player never to win a major. He has 39 career wins and has at least one win on every major continent. 

    He has been No. 1 for 22 weeks, and has won virtually every accolade in golf. But he is still looking for that elusive first major win.

    He's had plenty of misses opportunities; he's finished in the top five nine times—three of them at The Open.

    Westwood might have won his first major had he not hit a tee shot into a tree on the fifth hole in the final round of the U.S. Open at Olympic Club last month.

    He won't have to worry about trees this time.

Rory McIlroy (NIR)

9 of 10

    World Ranking: 2

    Odds: 10-1

    Best Open Finish: T3 (2010)

    Thursday Tee Time: 2:21 p.m. BST (9:21 a.m. EST)

    Friday Tee Time: 9:09 a.m. BST (4:09 a.m. EST)

    Pairing: Louis Oosthuizen and Keegan Bradley

    At one time, McIlroy has finished in the top five of 10 out of 12 tournaments including a win at the UBS Hong Kong Open. All that helped him reached the coveted No. 1 spot in the world rankings.

    He then entered The Masters as a co-favorite with Tiger Woods and finished tied for 40th.

    He bounced back with a second-place finish when he lost to Rickie Fowler in a playoff at the Wells Fargo Championship, but missed the cut in three of the four next tournaments. He regained some momentum after finishing tied for 10th at the Irish Open in his last start.

    McIlroy must erase memories of complaining about the weather. The Open is links-style golf, meaning bad weather is sitting just around the corner.

Luke Donald (ENG)

10 of 10

    World Ranking: 1

    Odds: 15-1

    Best Open Finish: T5 (2009)

    Thursday Tee Time: 2:43 p.m. BST (9:43 a.m. EST)

    Friday Tee Time: 9:31 a.m. BST (4:21 a.m. EST)

    Pairing: Phil Mickelson and Geoff Ogilvy

    Last year, Donald became the first man to officially win the money titles on both the PGA and European tours and had the FedEx Cup within his reach.

    This year, he has won twice, splitting wins on both tours, but has not been in contention at either The Masters nor the U.S. Open, where he missed the cut after basically shooting himself out of the tournament with a horrendous nine-over first round.

    Donald has never won a major, but it's hard to argue that anybody wants one more than him.

    This year, Donald has said he is going to use none other than Seve Ballesteros' victory at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 1979 as his inspiration for The Open.