With one round in the books at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club in England, it is quite clear that the 2012 Open Championship is going to be a competitive one. Top players such as Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and others are very much in the hunt, but there are some contenders who have already played their way out of it.
Because of the way the weather swings and course conditions change on a minute-by-minute basis, you never know what might happen, but a few stars have already dug themselves too big of a hole to climb out of.
Here are three players who were among those expected to be in the running for the Claret Jug, but have already killed their chances after one round.
|1st ||Adam Scott ||-6 ||F|
|T-2nd ||Paul Lawrie ||-5 ||F|
|T-2nd ||Zach Johnson ||-5 ||F|
|T-2nd ||Nicolas Colsaerts ||-5 ||F|
|5th ||Brandt Snedeker ||-4 ||F|
|T-6th ||Graeme McDowell ||-3 ||F|
|T-6th ||Tiger Woods ||-3 ||F|
|T-6th ||Ernie Els||-3 ||F|
|T-6th ||Bubba Watson||-3 ||F|
Which player is least likely to make a run in the British Open?
To say that 2012 hasn't been kind to Phil Mickelson would be an understatement. Lefty has just one win on the year, was a total non-factor in the US Open and hasn't finished better than 65th over his past four tournaments.
That trend looks like it may continue at the British Open as Mickelson is three-over par after the first round and is in a logjam for 99th place. Unless Mickelson really turns it on in the second round, he is in danger of missing the cut for the fourth time this season.
Mickelson came close to winning this tournament a year ago and it is no secret that he would love to add the Claret Jug to his trophy case. But he's been way too inconsistent off the tee this year and that spells disaster on a links course. Any wayward drive can possibly land in a fairway bunker or heavy rough, so Mickelson has to be more accurate than powerful. I just don't believe he can adjust.
Northern Irishman Darren Clarke turned a lot of heads when he won the British Open last year, but a second consecutive triumph is pretty much out of the question at this point. Clarke shot a first-round 76 and is very near the bottom of the leaderboard as he is tied for 144th place. Clarke's struggles aren't a total surprise since he came out of nowhere to win last year and has battled injuries in 2012, but most expected him to put up more of a fight.
The course has actually played a bit easier than anticipated, but that hasn't translated for Clarke. The popular 43-year-old is playing in just his sixth PGA tournament this season, and he has already missed three cuts with his best finish being 33rd. He hasn't fared much better in Europe either with four missed cuts in six tries. Clarke seems to be slipping a bit, but at least he should get a warm reception on Friday prior to missing another cut.
When German Martin Kaymer won the PGA Championship in 2010, he appeared to be a rising star with an extremely bright future. Kaymer claimed the No. 1 ranking in 2011, but since losing that spot, he has not been the same golfer. Kaymer is currently 15th in the world and he got off to a nightmarish start in the 2012 Open Championship. Kaymer is seven-over par, which is good for a 150th-place tie.
Based on Kaymer's erratic play this year, perhaps his British Open struggles shouldn't come as a shock. Kaymer has four top 20 finishes in five PGA Tour events this year, but his streakiness has been more apparent on the European Tour. Also, while Kaymer has had some nice performances this year, he hasn't really been a factor to win any tournaments. His British Open showing definitely won't help his shaken confidence and it will be interesting to see whether he can become a No. 1-caliber player again in the future.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter