The 2012 British Open is kicking off, and the competition and bunkers are steeper than ever. The Royal Lytham and St. Annes course, which is hosting this year’s Open Championship, will also be home to 205 sand traps—the most bunkers on a course for an Open tournament.
With bunker sides towering over players, the traps at Lytham are incredibly dangerous and costly. Hitting into a fairway bunker will leave players with double bogeys, and out of the running for the 2012 Open Championship title.
So the key to conquering this epic course is ball control. You won’t see big hitters taking home the trophy at Lytham, but rather those players who make almost all of their fairways and can stay straight down the hole.
With that being said, let’s take a look at the top Americans who have the best chance of conquering the sand.
There has been a lot of hype surrounding Tiger Woods as of late, and for good reason. Although he has two T-40s and two missed cuts in 2012, Tiger also has one runner-up finish and three wins to his name.
Although his tournament finishes might not be as consistent, Tiger is definitely an accurate ball striker. Even if he hits a fluke stroke into the rough or sand trap, Tiger is one of the best at recovering.
Lytham will definitely test Tiger’s low-flying tee-shot and his precision with his irons, but with the chance to capture his fifteenth major—and move one closer to Jack Nicklaus’ record—Tiger should be firing on all cylinders in the 2012 British Open.
Plus, his three British Open wins (he took the trophy home in 2000, 2005 and 2006) don’t hurt either.
Although Jim Furyk had a rough year in 2011 on the tour, he is shaping up to be one of the strongest competitors for the 2012 British Open. Not only did he almost add a second U.S. Open Championship trophy to his collection this year, but he has also improved his consistency off the tee, which has resulted in his string of top-10 finishes in all four Majors.
Additionally, though Furyk is one of the best bunker players on the tour, it will be his consistent number of fairways hit that will make him a tough contender. With straight and narrow iron shots and a laser-accurate short game, we can expect Furyk to be showing off his precise strokes at Lytham, and why he is one of the best Americans on the tour.
After finishing sixteenth at the 2011 British Open, Zach Johnson will have a big advantage at Lytham in 2012. Johnson is one of the most accurate hitters on the tour, and his consistency off the tee will be his key to success this year.
Not only will his drives keep him out of those treacherous sand traps, but his textbook short game will help to keep this American on par.
After taking the trophy at the John Deere Classic just a few days ago, Johnson should be hot coming into the Open Championship this year. Plus, after winning the 2007 Masters, Johnson can clearly handle the pressure of a major tournament.
You can expect Johnson to be consistent at Lytham this year and, because of his accuracy off the tee, to have a good chance of taking home the title.