Brandt Snedeker looks like the best hope for the United States in the Open Championship.
If there was ever a year someone might wonder if there was an American golfer capable of winning an Open Championship, it would be 2013.
Four of the top Americans who will be at Muirfield are currently ranked in the top 25 of the Official World Golf Rankings, and three of those are in the top 10.
But based on their current form, is there one among that group who engenders any kind of great confidence in becoming the champion golfer of the year for 2013?
I’m not seeing it.
As a matter of fact, I don’t see this as being a real nice trip across the pond for the boys from the USA.
As we know, the World Golf Ranking is based on a two-year performance cycle, and Woods’ big season in 2012 and the start he had in 2013 have him on top of the heap. Since his fourth win of this season at the Players Championship, he’s tied for 65th and 32nd.
He won’t play again until the Open Championship and will arrive there on the mend from an elbow strain. Who knows what kind of state, mental or physical, Woods—the 5-1 favorite—will be when the time comes? Plus, in his only previous appearance at Muirfield, Woods posted rounds of 70-68-81-65 in 2002.
Yes, he’s won three Open titles and has proven capable of adapting to the conditions that are a very big part of the Open experience. Remember how he used his 3-wood magically in 2006 to win at Royal Liverpool Golf Club?
That was then, however, and we don’t know what we have now.
Phil Mickelson also played there in 2002, opening and closing with a 68 and 70 and posting a pair of 76s in the middle. Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, the 23rd-ranked player in the world, are both 33-1 shots.
Matt Kuchar also competed in 2002 but could do no better than 75-70 and missed the cut.
We know about Mickelson, his collapse in the U.S. Open and how he’ll respond coming back from that.
Kuchar, 50-1, is coming off a tie for 28th in the U.S. Open and a missed cut in the French Open; he's not exactly flying into the third major of the year.
That slims down the group of American contenders for sure.
Jason Dufner (40-1), Bubba Watson (50-1), Hunter Mahan (50-1), Rickie Fowler (50-1) or Webb Simpson (50-1)? They don’t look like very good investments to me.
And that leads back to the original question of who might actually contend.
How’s this for a name?
Snedeker got off to a sizzling start, winning once, finishing second twice and finishing third in his first five events of 2013. Then a lingering rib problem resurfaced, and he hasn't been the same since—or at least he wasn't until the Masters.
Since then, he’s posted three top-10 finishes, including a tie for eighth at the AT&T National. He was also briefly in the mix at the U.S. Open before tying for 17th.
That tells me the young man from Nashville is rounding back into form and could be something special at Muirfield.
Who will finish higher in the British Open?
He doesn’t have much of a history in the Open, missing the cut the first three times he teed it up over there. Last year, however, he got into the spirit of the grand old game, finishing in a tie for third.
The world has waited for Snedeker to take the next step, and the fact that he posted top 20s in the year’s first two majors is a sign he might be on the verge of doing just that. And he knows that when that major championship does come, he’ll lose one of the things he enjoys about his life: his relative anonymity.
"I guess if I was to live out my dream, I'm going to have to become somewhat of a well-known person if I want to be the best golfer in the world," he said, per USA Today.
He may be a 25-1 shot, but Snedeker is the best the red, white and blue has to offer.