British Open Picks 2012: Top Stars to Avoid This Weekend

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IJuly 19, 2012

British Open Picks 2012: Top Stars to Avoid This Weekend

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    The stars are out in Lancashire.

    All but two of the majors since the start of 2009 have been won by golfers ranked outside of the world top 10, but that might just change this weekend at Royal Lytham and St Anne's at the Open Championship. 

    After one day, superstars such as Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson all find themselves on the leaderboard after shooting three-under, good enough for a sixth-place tie. 

    With that being said, there are still plenty of stars who struggled out of the gate on Thursday and plenty who will struggle in the coming days. Let's take a look. 

Justin Rose

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    Is Justin Rose a "star"? Maybe not, but his ranking as the ninth-best golfer in the world certainly had him as at least a small favorite entering Lancashire. 

    Not anymore.

    The Englishman put up five bogeys and zero pars on the front nine, which is supposed to be the easier half of this golf course. Of course, he calmed down and went one-under on the back nine, but the damage was done.

    Rose finds himself in a tie for 115th place at four strokes over par. He has to do a lot of work to even make the cut, which is projected at plus-one.

    It's a no-brainer, but don't count on seeing a lot of the 31-year-old this weekend. 

Lee Westwood

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    I won't lie, I had Lee Westwood as one of my favorites before the tournament started.

    He's accurate enough and good enough out of the bunkers to be successful at true links golf, and most importantly, the Englishman is playing on his "home turf."

    But it appears I couldn't have been more wrong.

    After a decent one-under front nine (even though he double-bogeyed No. 3 and bogeyed No. 6), Westwood fell apart on the back nine, putting up four bogeys and zero pars. 

    What's worse is that Westwood teed off earlier, so he got the benefit of better weather. He won't get that on Friday with a later tee time. 

    The cut is a real danger at this point for Westwood, who has yet to miss one this year. 

Phil Mickelson

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    You see that picture? That's the situation Lefty found himself in all day.

    Although Mickelson was able to continually scramble from the rough and from bunkers to shoot a manageable three-over 73, he can't keep playing like he did on Thursday if he hopes to make the cut, which is currently projected at plus-1. 

    Lefty was ranked 156th in the world in driving accuracy coming into the Open Championship, and it's highly likely that number is going to continue to drop after his round on Thursday. Mickelson, who decided to wear two gloves because of the chilly weather, continually missed the fairways and always found himself in trouble. 

    I wouldn't be surprised if he scrambled to make the cut, but with the way he looked in Round 1, I'm not expecting Phil anywhere near the leaderboard on Sunday.

Luke Donald

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    Luke Donald played what you would call a boring round of golf. 

    After dropping a birdie on the par-four No. 3, Donald rolled off 14 straight pars before hitting the green-side bunker and then two-putting for a bogey on No. 18.

    An even round certainly isn't bad, it just should have been a lot better for the World No. 1. 

    Donald hit plenty of greens in regulation, but he missed a bunch of makeable birdie putts as his putter just never got going. 

    The 34-year-old will linger around the top 20 like he usually does, I'm just not comfortable betting on him to take home his first major this weekend. 

Bubba Watson

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    If Bubba Watson plays as accurately and putts as well as he did on Thursday, he's without a doubt a favorite to take home his second major of the year. 

    Bubba has the jaw-dropping power to absolutely tear apart Royal Lytham. 

    But color me a little skeptical. 

    Watson is 130th in driving accuracy and 146th in strokes gained via putting. If the wild Watson ever shows up in the next few days, this course has the deep bunkers and knee-high rough to punish him should he wander away from the fairways. 

    Regardless of the encouraging fantastic start, I'm staying away.