The 2013 British Open gets underway on Thursday, July 18, and with such a deep field in golf's third major of the year, there are bound to be some big names that will struggle in Gullane, Scotland, at Muirfield Golf Links.
Each of the past eight winners at this venue is in the World Golf Hall of Fame and are multiple-major champions. Among those, Gary Player and Nick Faldo—the first of two times he won at Muirfield, in 1987—were the only ones not to have won multiple major titles before then.
Such criteria would seem to make the list of favorites rather slim, because very few multiple-major champions—or seemingly eventual ones—remain in their primes.
Let's take a look at some of the notables in the field at The Open Championship and why they will not contend and thus finish well outside the top 10.
There's definitely a chance that Bradley could wind up adding more to his major-hardware collection to back up his breakthrough at the 2011 PGA Championship, but it won't happen this week.
Bradley is one of only three players to win his major debut. It was even more impressive that he defended the Wanamaker Trophy by tying for third—albeit far off the pace set by runaway winner Rory McIlroy.
Which big name is in the most danger of missing the cut?
After adding a whole new set of Cleveland irons ahead of the Memorial Tournament, he tied for 18th at the other prominent course named Muirfield.
The 27-year-old missed the cut at the U.S. Open, tied for 18th at the Travelers Championship and finished T-61 at the John Deere Classic. The Open Championship simply isn't suited for Bradley's game—especially at this Muirfield—and the equipment change definitely doesn't help his cause.
The tendency for Bradley is to swing hard at everything, and launch the ball very high. That style simply won't translate well to 2013's venue. Clubs may be giving Bradley difficulty, but it's going to take an adjustment to his style of play before he seriously threatens at this major championship.
Few players finish in the top 10 as regularly, but a shaky track record at the British Open and recent questionable form has Kuchar's stock significantly lowered.
It is true that Kuchar has won twice on the PGA Tour in 2013, so knocking him for the letdown he's experienced lately is a bit unfair. However, there are reasons not to like his chances beyond Kuchar's lack of success at the Open, highlighted by Golf Digest's Mike O'Malley below:
Matt Kuchar in the Open: MC, MC, MC, MC, MC, T-27, MC, T-9 (last year at Lytham).— Mike O'Malley (@GD_MikeO) July 12, 2013
Accuracy will be critical, and when Kuchar hasn't won, he's been down in that statistic this season. Off the tee, he's at a distinct disadvantage in ranking just 144th in driving accuracy and 130th in driving distance.
Drivers aren't necessarily required to navigate the often-arduous terrain at this particular course on the British Open rotation, but players such as Kuchar who hit it shorter will be left with daunting approach shots with longer clubs in their hands.
Shorter hitters with successful records at the Open or superior experience in links golf are better bets than Kuchar to be contenders.
If there were a multiple major winner to feel good about ahead of this week, looking elsewhere besides Harrington would be a wise idea.
Better bets may be Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy—both seem due to make some noise at a major, and Woods in particular is looking to get off his major skid stretching back to the 2008 U.S. Open. Phil Mickelson may even be the safest choice considering he won last week's Scottish Open.
Harrington was the last back-to-back British Open winner in 2007 and 2008 and even added a third career major at the latter year's PGA Championship.
Since then, the Irishman has been trying to tweak his game to elevate himself to another level. Unfortunately, it hasn't worked out quite as planned, inconsistency has set in, and Harrington has yet to capture another professional victory.
Sky Sports Golf commentator Ross McFarlane poked a bit of fun at how technical Harrington has gotten in recent years:
A final-round collapse at the Travelers Championship resulted in an 80, and Harrington missed the cut at the Scottish Open, which leaves him searching for answers while still trying to prepare for a major.
That's never a good place to be, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Harrington finish well back in the pack despite hoisting the Claret Jug twice in his illustrious career.