For golf fans, the month of July is a magical time, as the world's best golfers hit the links in the United Kingdom—the home of this sport we love.
Muirfield is one of the most hallowed golf courses in the world. Designed by Old Tom Morris, it was opened in 1891 and has hosted the Open Championship 15 times prior to this year's event. The last time Muirfield hosted the Open Championship was in 2002, when Ernie Els claimed the claret jug.
The group of golfers being given the most favorable odds to win features no surprises. Here's a quick look at the top 10 golfers according to the oddsmakers, courtesy of Bovada, as of 4 p.m. on Monday, July 15:
As it happens every year, some of these men will live up to these high expectations, while others will fail to even make the cut.
Major golf championships are as brutal a test of skill and nerves as there is on the PGA Tour, and even the greatest players fail miserably from time to time.
Heading into the tournament in 2013, these are the men you can count on to thrive and avoid as you make your bets.
Best: Phil Mickelson
Mickelson is undeniably one of the world's most dangerous golfers when he's on his game.
And right now, he's on his game.
After a disappointing performance at the 2013 Masters, "Lefty" has gone back and forth between two extremes.
He finished in third place at the Wells Fargo Championship and then missed the cut at The Players Championship. He then finished in second place in both the FedEx St. Jude Classic and 2013 U.S. Open before missing the cut in the Greenbrier Classic.
In his tuneup for the British Open, Mickelson won the 2013 Scottish Open, and he's due for another excellent performance this week at Muirfield. Though links courses have long given him trouble, Lefty proved at Castle Stewart that he has developed the game to win in the UK.
Worst: Sergio Garcia
One of the most talented golfers on the planet, Garcia hasn't yet won a major championship, and nobody should expect him to break the streak this year at Muirfield.
Garcia's problem lies between his ears.
When faced with pressure, the Spaniard inevitably develops a brutal case of the "yips," which renders his spectacular game absolutely useless.
So, when Garcia jumps out to an impressive first-round lead, don't for a second believe he'll carry his momentum into the latter stages of the tournament.
Best: Graeme McDowell
Like Mickelson, McDowell's game has been up and down this season.
And like Mickelson, the Northern Irishman's game is on the upward swing of the pendulum. Despite the fact that he missed the cut at the Masters and the U.S. Open recently, he's primed to have a stellar tournament at Muirfield this weekend.
Winner of three tournaments worldwide in 2013, McDowell recently won the French Open on the European Tour while tuning up his game for the Open Championship.
After finishing last year's British Open in a tie for fifth place, McDowell will be a force to be reckoned with this weekend when the pressure reaches its highest point.
Worst: Rory McIlroy
"I feel a bit lost right now," McIlroy told reporters after Round 1 of the Irish Open, as noted by Alistair Tait of GolfWeek.com.
McIlroy went on to miss the cut at the Irish Open—his fourth straight poor showing and second missed cut since finishing The Players Championship in a tie for eighth place.
And instead of tuning up his game by competing in a tournament leading up to the 2013 British Open, McIlroy spent time testing drivers as he attempts to rediscover his long lost tee shot, as noted by Tait.
This isn't the kind of inspirational news that would give me a reason to put money on McIlroy to win the 2013 British Open.
His game is floundering in the worst way right now. His confidence is shot, and he's more likely to miss the cut than he is to finish in the top five—let alone win the tournament.
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