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British Open Favorites 2013: Championship Odds for World's Top Players

Mike DudurichContributor IDecember 1, 2016

British Open Favorites 2013: Championship Odds for World's Top Players

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    Please read the headline above carefully. This is a slideshow concerning the world’s top players, as determined by the Official World Golf Rankings.

    They may not be the best players at this moment, but they have achieved their rankings as a result of their play over a period of time.

    Arguments could be made that as many as five of the players on this list don’t even belong in the Open Championship, but the rankings are the rankings.

Louis Oosthuizen (50-1)

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    Greatest Strength

    Oosthuizen’s name on this list is a product of the Official World Golf Rankings’ two-year cycle.

    He came from virtually nowhere to win the 2010 Open Championship and then lost in the Masters in a playoff to Bubba Watson’s miracle hook in 2012. In between, not much. He has a great swing but has produced virtually nothing.

    He has a model swing and is ranked fourth on the PGA Tour in greens in regulation at 70.09 percent.

     

    Biggest Weakness

    Choose, if you like, between his driving accuracy percentage (105th), strokes gained putting (144th), birdie average (144th), total driving (185th) or sand save percentage (141st).

     

    He’ll Win If...

    None of the other 155 players in the field show up on Thursday. Whatever is ailing Oosthuizen’s game won’t be readily fixed.

    He’ll be a non-factor.

Luke Donald (25-1)

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    Greatest Strength

    This guy has played just 10 events thus far, and it’s been something of a blah collection of tournaments. Yes, he’s had three top-10 finishes and is ranked seventh in strokes gained putting (.717) and seventh in scoring average (69.699).

    He’s steady and hits the ball in the fairway time after time.

     

    Biggest Weakness

    He’s a short hitter, and that won’t help him this week. He’s 151st in greens in regulation, and that will really hurt him.

    If he doesn’t hit fairways at the nearly 66 percent clip he’s been hitting, it will be a tough week for him.

     

    He’ll Win If...

    Absolutely everything falls his way at Muirfield.

    No one has ever played the perfect round of golf, but Luke Donald will need to find a way to be very close to perfect.

    He’ll walk away from Muirfield as yet another really good player without a major.

     

Phil Mickelson (25-1)

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    Greatest Strength

    Links golf has never been Mickelson’s forte, at least until last week’s Scottish Open.

    At Castle Stuart, he certainly looked like a guy who had finally figured out the nuances of the game as it’s played on the other side of the ocean.

    Mickelson obviously showed great fortitude in putting together such a strong effort in light of his great disappointment at the U.S. Open last month.

     

    Biggest Weakness

    His raging inconsistencies.

    Phil Mickelson rides the roller coaster more than even the most avid roller coaster enthusiast.

    At any point, Mickelson could be capsized by a wild driver, he could lose all control of his iron game or his long-standing nemesis, short putts, could show up again.

     

    He’ll Win If...

    He plays anywhere close to how he played at Castle Stuart.

    For the most part, his game was under control, and he played the game as it was meant to be played.

    Grasping that concept only feeds into his creativity and imagination. That could be bad news for the rest of the field this week.

Brandt Snedeker (40-1)

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    Greatest Strength

    Look at his stats. Why hasn’t this guy won more, especially this year?

    Outside of his not driving the ball very well and a lack of eagles, you can put his numbers up against anyone’s.

    He’s a great putter, and his iron game is among the best.

     

    Biggest Weakness

    His biggest weakness this year has been the recurrence of a rib injury that has not only hampered him but also shut him down after a red-hot start that included a win, a pair of ties for second and a third in his first five starts.

    He showed signs of his game returning in recent starts, but that won’t matter if he doesn’t stay healthy.

     

    He’ll Win If...

    He doesn’t wake up one day with pain in his ribs.

    He’s capable of winning, as he showed in capturing the Tour Championship last fall. It certainly seems as though he’s due to take that next big step and win a major.

    He’s one of those who will benefit from calm, dry conditions.

Graeme McDowell (25-1)

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    Greatest Strength

    There are only four players on the PGA Tour who hit fairways more often Graeme McDowell.

    He hits them 70.24 percent of the time and is 11th in the strokes gained putting category.

    A three-time winner this year, he’s getting back to the kind of player he was in 2010 when he won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

     

    Biggest Weakness

    Once he gets those tee shots in the fairway, things go sideways for him a bit.

    He doesn’t hit them far (277.9 yards per average, 156th) and doesn’t hit greens in regulation nearly enough (62.50 percent, 145th).

     

    He’ll Win If...

    He takes advantage of his bountiful links golf experience.

    He’s second in scrambling, meaning he gets up and down from around greens very well.

    Like just about every other European player, McDowell would love to win the Open Championship. He’ll need to control all of that adrenaline in a positive way.

Matt Kuchar (50-1)

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    Greatest Strength

    Consistency.

    He’s played in 15 events this year and made 15 cuts. His worst finish was a tie for 48th. That would explain why he’s made almost $4.4 million already this year. He’s playing like a guy in the prime of his career.

     

    Biggest Weakness

    The word is the fairways at Muirfield are generous in width, but they are not to be missed. There’s a swath of intermediate rough and then that tall, wispy stuff that looks very nice on TV.

    Despite all the success Kuchar has had this season, he’s not driven the ball very well (122nd in distance, 131st in accuracy).

     

    He’ll Win If...

    He gets those lower tee shots in the fairways.

    He’ll produce a ton of run. If he can find enough greens and continue to make putts, Kuchar many finally win that first major.

Adam Scott (20-1)

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    Greatest Strength

    He has the green jacket. He’s shown he can handle the pressure that goes along with a major championship.

    He also has his long putter, which hasn’t resulted in a bunch of wins but has become comfortable for him.

     

    Biggest Weakness

    One of the best swings in golf certainly isn’t a weakness.

    His issues throughout his career have been getting his drives in the fairway more (Scott is 114th in driving accuracy). He's 102nd in strokes gained putting.

    Those two are definite weaknesses, especially in a major championship.

     

    He’ll Win If...

    He can find the hard, fast fairways of Muirfield. With his length (300.3 average), getting the extra rollout will make the course more manageable.

    He also needs to eliminate the 2012 Open Championship from his memory banks. Thinking about blowing a four-shot lead with four holes to play won’t help with the positive energy.

Justin Rose (20-1)

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    Greatest Strength

    The 2013 U.S. Open champion, despite what the oddsmakers say, is the player to watch this week in Scotland.

    His greatest strength is driving the ball. He is ranked 27th on the PGA Tour in distance off the tee (296.8) and 12th in driving accuracy (68.07 percentage of fairways hit). The way Rose drives the ball, if he gets those tee shots running on the hard, fast fairways, he could run away.

     

    Biggest Weakness

    For most of the last five years, Rose has struggled with the flat stick. This year is no different.

    As he proved at Merion, those who win major championships putt well. He did that week and will need to do so again at Muirfield.

     

    He’ll Win If...

    He can get over the giddiness of being announced on the first tee by renowned announcer Ivor Robson as “the 2013 U.S. Open Champion, Justin Rose.” He’s only played once since the win at Merion and will need to get his feet back on the ground and get into “major quest” mode.

    Oh, and make a bunch of putts too.

Rory McIlroy (20-1)

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    Greatest Strength

    Considering the state of his game, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to find a strength in the game of the second-ranked player in the world.

    But looking at his statistics this year, he’s actually driving the ball fairly well, averaging 298.8 off the tee and hitting 68 percent of the greens in regulation. Those two rankings, 18th and 15th respectively, are the two shimmering lights of what has become a lost season for the 24-year-old Northern Irishman.

     

    Biggest Weakness

    The quick and easy answer is McIlroy’s putting, which has him ranked 129th on the PGA Tour with a -.158 mark in the strokes gained putting category.

    But his game has been overtaken by a mental and physical funk that has dogged him from his first swing of the year.

     

    He’ll Win If...

    The top three-fourths of the field comes down with a serious case of food poisoning?

    Coming into the Open Championship with ties for 57th and 41st emphasizes the fact McIlroy has no form to build on. It would take something of a miracle for him to win.

Tiger Woods (8-1)

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    Greatest Strength

    At this point, because we’re not sure exactly where Tiger Woods is physically, his greatest strength is the mental toughness he’s gained in his 68 major championship appearances.

    If the elbow strain he suffered at the Players Championship in May is indeed no longer a factor, then his greatest strength is his overall game, which was good enough to win four times already this season.

     

    Biggest Weakness

    He’s hitting the ball long enough off the tee, he’s hitting greens in regulation at a good clip (62.28 percent) and his putting seems to have returned as well (.833 in strokes gained putting).

    What has cropped up occasionally this year, as it has throughout his career, has been inconsistency off the tee.

    That would be a very bad thing for Woods at Muirfield.

     

    He’ll Win If...

    He uses his driver sparingly and accurately.

    Conditions should be dry, hard and extremely fast, making it sound a lot like Royal Liverpool Golf Club in 2006. That year, the course was brown all around, and Woods used his 3-wood and irons off the tees and won his third Open Championship.

    Sounds like a winning game plan for this week too.

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