Power Ranking the Top 25 Golfers Heading into the 2013 British Open of Golf

Tyler Donohue@@TDsTakeNational Recruiting AnalystJuly 15, 2013

Power Ranking the Top 25 Golfers Heading into the 2013 British Open of Golf

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    The PGA Tour continues with one of the game's most treasured tournaments this week. The 142nd Open Championship provides a captivating spectacle in Scotland, where Muirfield hosts the event for the first time since 2002.

    The third major championship of the 2013 season will feature the game's greatest players, while providing an opportunity for underdog upstarts to steal the show on a global stage. The 2013 PGA Tour schedule is now in its seventh month and players are jockeying for position as the FedEx Cup playoffs approach on the horizon.

    Some competitors have enjoyed continuous success, seemingly hitting their stride this summer. Others have faltered far too often and remain in search of any semblance of consistency.

    As the sport's premier players prepare to compete at the British Open. read on to find out how they stack up in our latest power rankings. 

25. Zach Johnson

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    OWGR: 31

    Previous Rank: N/A

    Best of 2013: A first-round 64 at the John Deere Classic kicked off a strong weekend for Zach Johnson. He ultimately settled for a second-place tie as a result of a five-hole playoff.

    Why He's Here: Johnson has been busy, competing in 17 tournaments this year. He owns two top-three finishes and four top-25 showings. However, he was stronger in 2012 when he secured six top-10 finishes.

    British Open Prediction: Johnson has made the cut at the Open Championship six straight years, including three top-20 finishes. He finished a career-best ninth at the 2012 tournament, but expect him to fall back in the standings a bit this year.

24. Dustin Johnson

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    OWGR: 24

    Previous Rank: 17

    Best of 2013: Dustin Johnson earned his seventh PGA Tour win in the season opener. He finished first at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in January, snagging a $1.1 million prize.

    Why He's Here: Johnson has three top-10 performances in 2013, but hasn't been on point lately. He missed the cut at the Memorial and placed 55th at the U.S. Open.

    British Open Prediction: Johnson has enjoyed recent success in this tournament, with consecutive top-10 finishes and a runner-up effort in 2011. He stumbled through June, so signs point to a poorer showing at the Open Championship this time around.

23. Bubba Watson

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    OWGR: 17

    Previous Rank: 21

    Best of 2013: Bubba Watson rode a first-round 63 to a fourth-place finish at the Travelers Championship. That performance netted him a nearly $293,000 payday. 

    Why He's Here: His effort at the Travelers Open landed him a third top-10 finish of 2013. Watson placed 32nd at the U.S. Open after missing the cut at the 2012 tournament.

    British Open Prediction: Watson finished among the top 30 competitors at each of the past two British Opens, placing 30th and 23rd, respectively. He's likely to wind up in that range again at Muirfield.

22. Jason Dufner

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    OWGR: 21

    Previous Rank: 23

    Best of 2013: Jason Dufner made a late charge at the U.S. Open to finish in fourth place. The 36-year-old was scintillating on Sunday, capping off a five-over performance at Merion with a 67.

    Why He's Here: The U.S. Open remains Dufner's best overall finish of 2013. He has placed in the top 25 on five occasions, making 12 of 15 cuts.

    British Open Prediction: After missing the cut on his first two attempts, Dufner finished tied for 31st at the 2012 Open Championship. He'll look to carry momentum over from Merion, but a new level of pressure and intense competition doesn't bode well for the American.

21. Webb Simpson

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    OWGR: 19

    Previous Rank: 16

    Best of 2013: A pair of 65s served as bookends during Webb Simpson's weekend at the Travelers Championship. He tied for fifth at the tournament, matching his best finish of the season.

    Why He's Here: Simpson has made 13 of 17 cuts this season, including nine top-25 finishes. He missed the cut at the Masters.

    British Open Prediction: The 27-year-old has just one appearance at the Open Championship (tied for 16th in 2011). It's unlikely that he contends for a title at Muirfield, although no one saw his 2012 U.S. Open win coming, so keep your eyes open.

20. Keegan Bradley

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    OWGR: 16

    Previous Rank: 14

    Best of 2013: Keegan Bradley shot an eye-popping 60 in the first round of the Byron Nelson Championship and went on to finish second at the mid-May tournament.

    Why He's Here: Despite poor showings in 2013 major play (missed cut at the U.S. Open, tied for 54th at the Masters), Bradley has contended routinely this season. He has six top-10 finishes in 17 PGA Tour events.

    British Open Prediction: The 27-year-old tied for 34th place last year in his first Open Championship appearance. Aside from the PGA Championship, he's had very little success in major tournaments, so he isn't among the favorites to make noise deep into the weekend.

19. Rickie Fowler

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    OWGR: 30

    Previous Rank: 20

    Best of 2013: Rickie Fowler found himself among the U.S. Open leaders after a third-round 67. A choppy final stretch ultimately sent him back to 10th place, which ranks as his top finish at the event.

    Why He's Here: Fowler is playing confidently since an impressive display at Merion. The 24-year-old followed up that effort by tying for 13th at the Travelers Championship.

    British Open Prediction: After tying for fifth at the 2011 Open Championship, Fowler fell back to 31st last year. You can be sure Fowler is aware that people are wondering whether he's more style than substance, and it will help fuel him to a top-15 performance.

18. Luke Donald

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    OWGR: 9

    Previous Rank: 19

    Best of 2013: Luke Donald grabbed headlines by shooting a 68 in the first round of the U.S. Open. A fourth-round 75 caused him to slide late on the leaderboard, but an eighth-place finish was a career best at the event.  

    Why He's Here: Donald owns six straight top-25 finishes in PGA Tour events.

    British Open Prediction: The Englishman placed fifth at the Open Championship in 2009 and 2012. He ranks among the tournament's top contenders and should be in the picture when Sunday arrives.

17. Hunter Mahan

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    OWGR: 23

    Previous Rank: 9

    Best of 2013: Mahan hung tough on a challenging course at Merion, posting 69s on Friday and Saturday to finish tied for fourth at the U.S. Open.

    Why He's Here: Mahan has been extremely active on the PGA Tour this season, registering 18 starts. His year features 11 top-25 finishes, but he missed the cut at the AT&T National in late June.

    British Open Prediction: Since finishing tied for sixth in 2007, Mahan has missed the cut in three of the past five Open Championships. He is playing well enough to land in the 15-20 range at Muirfield, but that may be his ceiling.

16. Rory McIlroy

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    OWGR: 2

    Previous Rank: 12

    Best of 2013: A first-round 66 set the stage for Rory McIlroy to finish seven under at the Players Championship, locked in a tie for eighth place.

    Why He's Here: McIlroy has really struggled to establish momentum in 2013 and continues on a quest to find the right driver with Nike. After 11 top-25 finishes in 2012, he has placed outside of the top 25 in five of his 10 events this season.

    British Open Prediction: McIlroy, still just 24 years old, must overcome his frustrations early at Muirfield in order to keep pace with the field's elite players. If he can gain some confidence on Thursday and Friday, expect McIlroy to emerge in the title hunt.

15. Charl Schwartzel

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    OWGR: 15

    Previous Rank: 13

    Best of 2013: Charl Schwartzel used a first-round 63 to propel him to third place at the Byron Nelson Championship.

    Why He's Here: Though he still owns just one PGA Tour victory, Schwartzel is playing like a man on the verge of breaking through. He's made the cut in 10 of 11 events, finishing among the top 10 in four of them.

    British Open Prediction: Schwartzel has missed the cut in four of his seven career Open Championship starts. He had solid showings at the 2013 Masters and U.S. Open, so a top-15 finish could be in the cards.

14. Lee Westwood

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    OWGR: 12

    Previous Rank: 15

    Best of 2013: Lee Westwood was strong through 36 holes at the Honda Classic, shooting a 66 and 68 on Thursday and Friday, respectively. He cooled off in Rounds 3 and 4 but still placed ninth.

    Why He's Here: Westwood secured four straight top-10 finishes from March 31-May 12. He tied for eighth at the Masters. 

    British Open Prediction: Since finishing second at the 2010 Open Championship, Westwood missed the cut in 2011 and tied for 45th last season. When Westwood is streaking, he can contend for any major title, so he's a man worth watching at Muirfield.

13. Sergio Garcia

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    OWGR: 14

    Previous Rank: 11

    Best of 2013: Aside from a second-round 72, Sergio Garcia was outstanding at the Cadillac Championship. He placed third to earn more than $417,000 at the tournament.

    Why He's Here: Sergio's mega-slump seems like forgotten history these days. He's made the cut in every 2013 PGA Tour event he's started and finished among the top-10 in four of nine Tour tournaments. 

    British Open Prediction: Few events have teased Garcia during his quest for a first major title like the Open Championship. He owns seven top-10 finishes at the event since 2001, including an eighth-place showing in 2002 at Muirfield. The stars could be aligning in his career to make this the perfect place to cap his comeback from the sport's abyss.

12. Steve Stricker

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    OWGR: 11

    Previous Rank: 8

    Best of 2013: Steve Stricker placed second at the Cadillac Championship with a score of 17-under.

    Why He's Here: The 46-year-old is on a limited playing schedule, but he's made the most of it. In seven starts, Stricker has four top-10 finishes, including a tie for eighth at the U.S. Open.

    British Open Prediction: Stricker is skipping the tournament this year.

11. Ernie Els

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    OWGR: 13

    Previous Rank: 18

    Best of 2013: Ernie Els shot a 69 on Sunday at the U.S. Open to drop his score to five-over and finish in a fourth-place tie. It was his third top-10 finish at the U.S. Open since 2010.

    Why He's Here: Els followed his U.S. Open success with a title at the BMW International Open (European Tour). He has four top-six finishes in his past six overall starts.

    British Open Prediction: The reigning Open Championship winner is primed to challenge for the Claret Jug again at Muirfield, where he won in 2002. It's difficult to envision him defending the title, but don't be surprised if he's in the mix on the back nine Sunday.

10. Brandt Snedeker

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    OWGR: 7

    Previous Rank: 5

    Best of 2013: An opening-round 65 helped vault Brandt Snedeker to a second-place tie at the Farmers Insurance Open. He moved to a career-high No. 4 in official world rankings by winning the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

    Why He's Here: He is third on the PGA Tour in all-around ranking and has been attacking courses lately. He's missed the cut at four events but has seven top-10 finishes in the other 10. 

    British Open Prediction: Snedecker tied for third place at the 2012 Open Championship and is another one of those golfers in his early-30s who seems destined to finally win a major soon. A top-10 finish is in the forecast.

9. Billy Horschel

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    OWGR: 36

    Previous Rank: N/A

    Best of 2013: It's been a career year for Billy Horschel, who burst onto the scene by tying for fourth at the U.S. Open. A second-round 67 highlighted his weekend.

    Why He's Here: Horschel has been a model of consistency, making the cut in 17 of 18 PGA Tour events. He has seven top-10 finishes, including his first Tour victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

    British Open Prediction: The 27-year-old is quietly one of the most reliable golfers on tour. Expect him to garner a little more exposure by reaching the third round as a surprise contender at his first Open Championship.

8. Graeme McDowell

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     OWGR: 6

    Previous Rank: 10

    Best of 2013: Graeme McDowell claimed his first PGA Tour title in nearly three years with a win at RBC Heritage. 

    Why He's Here: The Irish standout missed the cut at the Masters, Players Championship and U.S. Open. Despite immense success on the European Tour, it's been hard to get a read on G-Mac during his 2013 PGA season. In nine PGA starts, he has missed the cut as many times as he's finished in the top 10 (four). His last eight starts worldwide have resulted in three wins and five missed cuts.

    British Open Prediction: After four top-12 finishes in major play last year, McDowell missed the cut at the first two legs of the 2013 major tour. Even a top-20 finish at Muirfield is hard to trust with his maddening ups and downs.

7. Phil Mickelson

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    OWGR: 8

    Previous Rank: 4

    Best of 2013: Phil Mickelson fell just shy of his first U.S. Open title, settling for the sixth second-place finish of his career at the tournament. A first-round 67 was balanced out by a 74 on Sunday.

    Why He's Here: It's been a roller coaster year for Lefty. He finished third at Wells Fargo, second at St. Jude and second at the U.S. Open, but tied for 54th at the Masters and missed the cut at the Players Championship and Greenbrier Classic. He enters the British Open fresh off a victory at the Scottish Open.

    British Open Prediction: Phil will stay in his comfort zone in Scotland and challenge for the first Open Championship title of his career.

6. Bill Haas

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    OWGR: 22

    Previous Rank: 25

    Best of 2013: Bill Haas topped an impressive field at the AT&T National. It's his fifth career PGA Tour victory.

    Why He's Here: Haas was on fire throughout June. He tied for fourth at the Memorial, won the AT&T National and tied for ninth at the Greenbrier Classic. The success added up to $1.5 million in earnings. He leads all PGA golfers with eight top-10 finishes.

    British Open Prediction: Based on his recent rise in play, Haas has an excellent chance to improve on last year's 19th-place performance, which was his career best at the British Open.

5. Adam Scott

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    OWGR: 4

    Previous Rank: 6

    Best of 2013: Adam Scott earned a green jacket at Augusta after holding off Angel Cabrera in a two-hole playoff.

    Why He's Here: Though he only has two top-20 finishes since winning the Masters, Scott has extra incentive to succeed at the British Open. He coughed up a chance to win the 2012 Open Championship when he bogeyed the final four holes on Sunday.

    British Open Prediction: If Scott puts too much pressure on himself to avenge the failures of last summer, it will be disastrous. Golf is a mental game, and this is another major test of his wherewithal.

4. Jason Day

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    OWGR: 18

    Previous Rank: 7

    Best of 2013: A third-round 68 put Jason Day in position to finish tied for second at the U.S. Open. It's the second time in three years he placed second at the event.

    Why He's Here: The 25-year-old is knocking on the door of his first major. His two best efforts of the season came at the Masters (third place) and the U.S. Open. Impressive stuff.

    British Open Prediction: Based on his recent track record in majors, Day enters the British Open as one of the top contenders. He will be in the mix for a title throughout the weekend.

3. Justin Rose

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    OWGR: 3

    Previous Rank: 3

    Best of 2013: Justin Rose never wavered on an unpredictable course at Merion, earning a U.S. Open title. He's the first Englishman to win the event in 43 years.

    Why He's Here: Rose stayed sharp in the aftermath of an emotional U.S. Open victory, contending quite well at the Travelers Championship one week later. He has five top-10 finishes this season in 10 PGA Tour starts.

    British Open Prediction: Rose rides the wave of a momentous win at Merion and represents the host country quite well. Expect him to vie for a second straight major title.

2. Matt Kuchar

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    OWGR: 5

    Previous Rank: 2

    Best of 2013: A victory at the Memorial lifted Matt Kuchar to his highest world ranking ever. 

    Why He's Here: His amazing season features two wins (Memorial, WGC-Accenture) and a second-place performance at the Crowne Plaza Invitational. Kuchar's 2013 resume also features three other top-10 finishes.

    British Open Prediction: Kuchar is set to emerge as one of the feel-good storylines of the 2013 Open Championship. A win at Muirfield would force everyone to reevaluate the current PGA hierarchy.

1. Tiger Woods

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    OWGR: 1

    Previous Rank: 1

    Best of 2013: Tiger Woods has won a tour-high four titles in just nine tournaments.

    Why He's Here: The king has returned to his throne with a strong season but still lacks a major to complete his highly publicized comeback. Woods tied for fourth at the Masters but muddled through the U.S. Open, tying for 32nd at Merion. He currently ranks first in scoring average (69.08).

    British Open Prediction: A well-rested Woods aims for his fourth Claret Jug and, assuming his proclamation of a healed elbow is legitimate, he has an excellent shot. Tiger will walk onto the course Sunday wearing his familiar red polo with a chance to close out a major for the first time in five years.