A recognizable group of golfers is at the top of the list of favorites to win the 2013 British Open.
Designed by Old Tom Morris back in 1891, Muirfield is one of the world's oldest and most respected golf courses. It has hosted 15 previous British Opens—the last of which occurred in 2002, when Ernie Els took home his first of two claret jugs.
Located on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth, it is a course that receives plenty of inclement weather and heavy winds. From the championship tees, it measures in at 7,245 yards and plays to a par of 71.
Demanding nothing but the finest displays of accuracy, nerves and touch, this classic links course will give the world's best plenty of headaches over the course of the weekend. Based on how these favorites have been playing of late, here's a look at what you can expect from all five golfers.
Tiger Woods (8-1 Odds)
Woods is a three-time champion and eight-time top-10 finisher at the British Open, and he's put together some extraordinary tournaments this year with four wins on the PGA Tour.
Unfortunately, his game hasn't been the same since he hurt his elbow during the week of his victory at The Players Championship. Woods played poorly in the Memorial Tournament and then again at the 2013 U.S. Open, where he re-aggravated his elbow injury.
In order to give himself the best chance of playing well at the Open Championship this year, Woods withdrew from the AT&T National, as noted by Woods' official website, and he has been rehabbing his elbow since.
You can never bet against Tiger.
His skill, determination, toughness and past successes give him a chance to compete in every tournament he enters.
That said, I'm not expecting him to win this year's British Open.
Prediction: Woods will finish in the top 10.
Justin Rose (16-1 Odds)
After years of being mentioned as one of the most talented golfers to never win a major championship, Rose finally got off the schneid with an impressive, gutsy display of golf to win the 2013 U.S. Open.
An excellent ball-striker and driver of the ball off the tee, Rose's biggest issue as a pro golfer has always been his inability to make clutch putts.
But after spending significant time and energy with little-known golf coach David Orr, his efforts finally paid off at Merion, where he was nearly one-tenth of a stroke better than the field on the greens.
Rose followed up his U.S. Open triumph with a respectable 13th-place finish at the Travelers Championship.
He's playing great golf right now, which counts for a lot.
Unfortunately, Rose has traditionally struggled at the Open Championship. His best finish came in his first attempt—way back in 1998—when he finished in a tie for fourth place. Since then, Rose hasn't come close to cracking the top 10.
Prediction: Rose will finish in the top 15.
Phil Mickelson (18-1 Odds)
As good as "Lefty" is when he's on his game, it is shocking to realize he has only won four major championships—three of which were won at Augusta National at the Masters.
Mickelson has never been particularly effective on links courses. In his 20 previous British Open appearances, he has only finished in the top 10 twice—a third-place finish in 2004 and a second-place finish in 2011.
Lefty has missed the cut at The Open Championship four times—his most recent missed cut coming last year, when he played poorly at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club.
History is against Mickelson.
That said, I love his chances in this upcoming major championship.
Not only did Mickelson pick up his first victory on UK soil with a win at the 2013 Scottish Open on Sunday, July 14 (just days before the start of the British Open), as noted by Golf.com's Mike Walker, but he's been playing excellent golf of late in general.
Prediction: Mickelson will win the 2013 British Open.
Adam Scott (20-1)
Scott's 2013 campaign is similar to that of Rose's. Both men have long been considered to have the talent to win a major, but they never did until this year. For Rose, it was the U.S. Open. For Scott, it was the Masters.
Unfortunately for Scott, his game has progressively gone to pot since his thrilling victory at Augusta this past April.
After a couple of respectable finishes at The Players Championship and the Memorial Tournament, the Australian registered two dismal results and the U.S. Open and AT&T National. During the eight rounds he played in those tournaments, he shot in the 60s just once and registered a cumulative score of 20 over par.
Despite his second-place finish at the 2012 British Open, I'm not expecting Scott to shine this weekend.
Prediction: Scott will finish outside the top 20.
Graeme McDowell (22-1)
How sweet would it be for McDowell to win the Open Championship?
Not only would it mean a lot to him, but golf fans in the UK love to cheer on one of their own, and McDowell is a man many fans love to cheer for, regardless of his play.
2013 has been an up-and-down season for the Northern Irishman.
He's won three tournaments this year between the PGA Tour and European Tour, but he's also missed the cut six times. His history at the Open Championship is just as unpredictable, as he's missed the cut three times but finished in fifth place last year.
One thing going in McDowell's favor right now is the fact that he's coming off a win at the French Open, where he defeated an impressive field on the European Tour in preparation for the British Open.
Prediction: McDowell will finish in the top 5.
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