The big names are expected to be the big story at the British Open. They always are. Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Bubba Watson … Those are the players you'll hear about, ad nauseam, until the first group tees off on Thursday.
But that doesn't mean that a long shot can't come out of nowhere and steal the show.
According to the PGA Tour's official website, players who have never won a major have won the last nine. So just as surely as the big names will compete for the lead, you can expect to see some guy you've never heard of near the top of the leaderboard throughout the weekend.
Here's a look at some of the underdogs who will compete for the title this weekend.
You can see the full field and all of the pairings here.
All odds courtesy of Bovada.
Given his win at the Masters back in April, America's most personable golfer can't be counted out. But given the way he's played since then, he can't exactly be counted in, either.
The affable champion currently has 40-1 odds to win the British Open, well behind the likes of Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and even Louis Ooshuizen, all of whom he beat at Augusta.
Looking at his recent track record, however, it's easy to see why: Since April 8, he's missed the cut twice—at the Memorial and at the U.S. Open—and he's finished in a tie for 18th place once.
Recently, however, Watson has been back on his game, managing a second-place finish at the Travelers Championship a few weeks ago. Who knows? Perhaps he can sustain that momentum.
The best he's ever finished at The Open is in a tie for 30th place, and that was last year. But Bubba's at his best when nobody expects anything of him, as evidenced by his performance at Augusta a couple of months ago.
The pressure was off after the U.S. Open; now he can get back to playing the underdog and surprising people.
Watson, paired with Lee Westwood and Yoshinori Fujimoto, tees off at 4:20 a.m. ET on Thursday.
The South African star doesn't exactly fit into the mold of pros who have never won a major before—he won the British Open back in 2010 at St. Andrews. And yet, despite proving that he can win this one, he still has 33-1 odds this year.
An Oosthuizen win wouldn't be all that surprising, even given the way he's played over the last couple of months. He has yet to register a PGA Tour victory this year, and after losing the Masters to Bubba Watson in a playoff, he's been embroiled in a bit of a free fall.
Since the Masters, Oosthuizen has missed four cuts. His best finish came at Colonial, where he landed in a tie for 19th.
But this is the only major he's ever won, and perhaps that will give him the confidence he needs to regain his form. Oosthuizen has everything he needs to succeed this weekend: accuracy, recent proof that he's capable of sustaining a high level of play throughout a major and the knowledge that he's been here and done this before.
This could be his chance to compensate for that devastating playoff loss at Augusta. He is grouped with Rory McIlroy and Keegan Bradley and will tee off at 9:21 a.m. ET on Thursday.
Though he barely qualifies as an underdog with 28-1 odds, McDowell is still behind all the top dogs, even though his recent play suggests he's been gearing up for a major win all year.
Like Oosthuizen, McDowell doesn't fit into the mold of golfers who have never one a big one: He took the U.S. Open crown in 2010 at Pebble Beach. But his inexperience at the British Open—he's only played in the tournament eight times and has never finished higher than a tie for 11th, according to PGA.com's Helen Ross—puts him behind the rest of the pack.
Somehow, though, it doesn't seem likely that McDowell is going to let that get to him. Judging by the way he played at the U.S. Open—where he finished in a tie for second place and came out on the short end of a hard-fought race to the finish—he's been ready for a fight all year.
With three top 10 finishes in 2012 and five top 25's, McDowell's proven to be impressive enough of late to get the job done. It will just be a matter of displaying the same focus and intensity he showed at the Olympic Club last month.
McDowell, grouped with Dustin Johnson and Hiroyuki Fujita, tees off at 4:31 a.m. ET on Thursday.
Here's someone who could give us a 10th straight major winner who's never won one before.
Scott has never finished better than a tie for eighth at the British Open (2006), and in all majors, he's never finished better than a tie for second place, which he achieved at the Masters in 2011.
Yet, despite 40-1 odds, he's still a popular pick among those who believe we'll get another underdog winner at The Open in 2012. According to The Australian, he has three top-10 finishes in his last six majors. And after finishing in a tie for third place at the AT&T National earlier this month, he might be in his best position ever to capitalize on that momentum and let it carry him toward that elusive first major win.
It's been a long road for Scott, but his confidence has never been higher. He has all the pieces necessary for a win—it's just a matter of putting them all together.
As he told The Australian:
"I know it's all there. It's just one of these weeks it's all going to happen. So I'm coming in really confident. I just feel good about my game. It's up there, for sure, with the best of my career."
This year, Scott has two top-10 finishes—one at the AT&T National and the other at the Masters, where he finished in a tie for eighth—and he's only missed one cut. He'll tee off at 3:42 a.m. ET on Thursday with Alan Dunbar and Matt Kuchar.
The best dressed man in golf is another player who's never one a major. But the closest Rickie Fowler has come to winning one was, incidentally, at the British Open in 2011, when he finished in a tie for fifth.
Like so many others in the field, this year has been an up-and-down one for Fowler. In his last two outings at the Memorial and at the U.S. Open, he finished in a tie for 52nd and in a tie for 41st, respectively.
But prior to that, in late May, he tied for fifth at Colonial. Before that, he tied for second at the Players Championship, and a week before that, he won the Wells Fargo Championship in a playoff. There have been flashes of brilliance as often as there have been unforeseen meltdowns.
Which version of Fowler will we get at the British Open this weekend? He does have five top-10 finishes in 2012 and has shown a penchant for playing well at The Open, but like his Golf Boys partner in crime, Bubba Watson, he can't seem to establish any consistency.
Fowler may have 40-1 odds to win this weekend, but he's been playing too well this year to be counted out. Perhaps this could be his second win of the year and his first ever in a major. He tees off at 9:32 a.m. ET on Thursday with Padraig Harrington and Manuel Trappel.