The field is finalized for the 2014 British Open, and the biggest name in golf will be back on the course.
Royal Liverpool will be the setting for the return of Tiger Woods to the majors stage after back surgery that kept him out of the first two major tournaments. The 14-time major winner is still in search of his first since 2008 and his fourth overall British Open title.
Along with Woods, several other players have a shot to win The Open this week. Names like Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer are at the top of the favorites list in a loaded field.
Before the tournament officially gets underway on Thursday, here's a look at the schedule, odds and some predictions for the 2014 British Open.
|Date||Time (ET)||TV||Live Stream|
|July 17||4 a.m. - 3 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|July 18||4 a.m. - 3 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|July 19||7 a.m. - 3 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|July 20||6 a.m. - 3 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
The golf world has been waiting for one man to return. Whether fans love him or hate him, Woods is one of the most successful players in the history of the game.
With him now returning to the course, he instantly becomes one of the favorites on the course. Woods spoke about the shape of his game coming into the tournament, per ESPN.com's Bob Harig:
I'm not favoring anything. The little baby steps worked. We were very diligent about what I was doing. Going into it we pushed it pretty hard to get my abs and glutes strong so when I did come back I was able to rebound fast. I can do whatever I want. I'm at that point now. …
Before I had the procedure, I was at the point I couldn't do anything. This is how I used to feel. I had been playing with [the back injury] for a while and I had my good weeks and bad weeks. Now they are all good.
Though he might feel much better, will his game be on par to win the British Open?
After coming up short over the last several years and stalling at 14 majors, Woods has shown glimpses that his game is good enough to win again. In his return, Woods missed the cut at the Quicken Loans National, so it's difficult to imagine him suddenly blowing past the field at Hoylake.
He will be in contention on the big stage, but his game doesn't appear to be there just yet on the course. Expect Woods to be in the top 10, providing a glimmer of hope for the rest of the season and the PGA Championship.
Prediction: Top-10 result.
Who will win The Open?
Since taking over as the world No. 1 on May 19, Scott has been in contention during every tournament.
The Australian won the Crowne Plaza Invitational and finished inside the top 10 at both the Memorial and U.S. Open. Needless to say, he has a strong chance to be near the top of the leaderboard at The Open.
Scott has fared well in the last two British Opens and is enjoying the course thus far, per Todd Lewis of the Golf Channel:
Spoke with Adam Scott who said Royal Liverpool is like Augusta with not a blade of grass out of place. 2nd & 3rd last two years at Open.— Todd Lewis (@ToddLewisGC) July 13, 2014
With his lengthy drives and great short game, the all-around player has a shot at winning his first Open title at Royal Liverpool.
The consistency of his game plays perfectly into this tournament. Without making huge mistakes on a difficult course, don't be surprised if Scott finds himself in contention yet again and hoisting the Claret Jug at the end of the weekend.
Prediction: Scott claims first British Open title.
Wild Card: Jordan Spieth
Sure, this could have been Kaymer, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson or defending champion Phil Mickelson, but something just feels right about Jordan Spieth.
The 20-year-old golfer has seven top-10 finishes this season, none of which have culminated in a win. Though he hasn't been at the top of the leaderboard on the close of a Sunday, Shane Bacon of Yahoo provides his thoughts on Spieth:
Looking at Jordan Spieth’s season. This. Kid. Is. In. Cre. Di. Ble.— Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) July 14, 2014
His consistency near the top every weekend has to eventually pay off, and it might just happen at The Open.
After yet another top 10 at the John Deere Classic, finishing seventh, Spieth headed straight to Hoylake to focus on the major. The Dallas native shared his quick turnaround on Twitter:
Plane just landed in Manchester.. 4am Dallas time. Straight to the course to get ready for The Open— Jordan Spieth (@JordanSpieth) July 14, 2014
There's a first time for everything, but it might still be too early for Spieth at Royal Liverpool. With a field that has plenty of experience at the British Open, Spieth will come up just short of his first major this coming weekend.
His first title is coming, but even after a good showing, he'll have to wait just a little longer for a major title.
Prediction: Top-five finish.
Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.