British Open Predictions 2013: Big Names That Will Be Out of Contention Early
Phil Mickelson is coming off of a win at the Scottish Open—and his enormous talent makes him a legitimate threat in every major—but his propensity to choke lands him on this dubious short list.
Lefty nearly squandered his most recent opportunity until he knocked off Branden Grace in a playoff to win his British Open tune-up. The Muirfield Golf Course in Scotland would seemingly be right up Mickelson's alley with its fast fairways, but to perform well, a player must putt with proficiency.
On putts within five feet, Mickelson is ranked 27th on tour with a 97.17 percent success rate this season. On putts from five to 10 feet, he's ranked 53rd at 56.58 percent, and from five to 15 feet, Mickelson is ranked just 73rd with a success rate of 45.20 percent.
Poor putting will cause players like Mickelson to lose valuable strokes at this year's Open Championship and thus fall out of contention early.
Check here or any Bleacher Report article on the British Open for a real-time leaderboard:
Here's a look at two other notables who will have rocky starts.
Stats per PGATour.com.
Ernie Els' putting numbers have been better than Mickelson's by percentage (97.03, 58.97 and 47.64), but he simply isn't finding greens with enough regularity.
He's ranked just 186th in greens in regulation at 59.31 percent. He is the defending champion, and he also won the tournament in 2002, the last time it was played at Muirfield. But he's 43 years old, and aside from his fourth-place finish at the U.S. Open in June, he hasn't played exceptionally well this season.
Look for Els to fall out of contention early.
Who will finish higher on the leaderboard?
Many in the golf world are still waiting for Rickie Fowler to capture his second win on tour. As of now, Fowler has only won the Wells Fargo Championship in 2012 during his career.
The chances he makes the Open Championship his second career win seem slim.
He's not an especially big driver off the tee (285 yards per drive), and his greens in regulation numbers have been modest (63.99 percent). In order for Fowler to be in serious contention at the Open Championship, he needs to putt at an elite level.
That will take poise he hasn't yet shown in his career. Smart money says he won't be a factor by the weekend.
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