British Open Favorites 2014: Tournament Odds and Predictions for Top Contenders

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2014

HOYLAKE, ENGLAND - JULY 15:  Tiger Woods of the United States walks across a green during a practice round prior to the start of The 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool on July 15, 2014 in Hoylake, England.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The 2014 British Open marks the return of Tiger Woods to major championship competition. Although he usually assumes the role of favorite, his lackluster performance upon returning at the Quicken Loans National leaves the field without a clear player to beat.

In fact, since no player has been dominant in recent months and all of the top contenders have question marks, the Open Championship is truly wide open. It should make for a very interesting week at the storied Royal Liverpool Golf Club.

The lack of certainty heading into play also leaves the door open for somebody from Foff the radar to win the coveted title. That said, let's take a look at the oddsmakers' top choices along with some predictions for the most notable fan favorites.

 

 

Open Championship Favorites

2014 Open Championship Odds
RankPlayerOdds
T-1Adam Scott14-1
T-1Justin Rose14-1
T-1Rory McIlroy14-1
4Henrik Stenson16-1
5Tiger Woods18-1
T-6Martin Kaymer20-1
T-6Phil Mickelson20-1
T-8Graeme McDowell25-1
T-8Sergio Garcia25-1
Odds via Odds Shark; All Other Players 33-1 or Higher

 

Predictions for Biggest Names

Tiger Woods

BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 26:  Tiger Woods of the United States reacts to his approach shot on the 17th hole during the first round of the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club on June 26, 2014 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Ima
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Woods missed the first two majors of the season while recovering from a back injury. Though his absence does nothing to discredit the triumphs by Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer, the events certainly didn't have the same feel without him.

As mentioned, he returned a couple weeks ago at Congressional Country Club and proceeded to miss the cut. Yet, Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post passed along comments from the 14-time major champion, who was pleased with his body's response:

That's one of the reasons why playing Congressional was such a big moment for me in that regard because I didn't have any setbacks. I could go at it that hard. I could play out of the rough. I could hit shots. I could go out as hard as I wanted to, and I didn't feel any of the pain going down my leg like I did before, and I was able to recover each and every day. I think that's the key: I was able to recover.

In terms of Woods' long-term outlook, that's great news. He was clearly dealing with pain since the second half of last season. Getting back to a point where he can play a round and then recover to feel full strength by the next day is progress.

It won't necessarily help him this week, though. Given the lack of competitive rounds under his belt since returning, it's hard to imagine him winning the Claret Jug. He should take another step in the right direction by making the cut, but contention will probably have to wait until the PGA Championship.

Prediction: 25th place

 

Rory McIlroy

ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - JULY 10 : Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland Acknowledges the applause from the Gallery around the 18th green during the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open first round at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club on July 10, 2014 in Aberdeen, Scotl
Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

The biggest problem for McIlroy continues to be consistency. Twice in his past four tournaments he's endured huge drop-offs over the first two rounds. He went from 63 to 78 at the Memorial followed by a 64 to 78 at the Scottish Open.

There's no doubt he's one of the most talented players on the course every time he tees it up. Alas, those types of wild swings in productivity make it difficult to win. That's especially true on a course like Royal Liverpool, where there are plenty of chances to see a round get away.

Aside from that 78, McIlroy did play well at the Scottish Open with three rounds of 68 or better. So if he can focus on eliminating that one tournament-killing round, even if it means just turning it into an average performance to remain in the mix, he'll have a chance.

Of course, the biggest test will come should he have a strong opening round. If he can back it up with another one, he becomes one of the favorites. It's hard to count on that happening, however, which likely leaves him in the same group as Woods.

Prediction: 30th place

 

Phil Mickelson

PINEHURST, NC - JUNE 13:  Phil Mickelson of the United States watches his tee shot on the seventh hole during the second round of the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Course No. 2 on June 13, 2014 in Pinehurst, North Carolina.  (Photo b
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Last year, Mickelson used an outstanding final round to win his first Open Championship and fifth career major title. As other players struggled to harness a tricky test at Muirfield, he was able to make it look easy, which is typical when he's in top form.

His numbers this season don't suggest a repeat performance is in the cards. He hasn't won a tournament and his only top-10 came in Abu Dhabi all the way back in January. ESPN Stats and Information provides a key reason for those struggles:

Looking for the cause of his woes? Look no further than the putter–he's struggling on short putts again, an area where he had improved over the past few years. He’s currently tied for 108th on the PGA Tour in 1-putt percentage inside 10 feet.

Those putting issues will be costly if Royal Liverpool plays similar to the way it did last time the British Open was held there. Woods won with a score of minus-18, which means players won't be able to squander any birdie looks.

Mickelson did have an encouraging final-round 65 in the Scottish Open. He also has a pair of top-two finishes in the event over his last three starts. So it wouldn't be a surprise to see him contend, but a repeat victory is probably too much to ask.

Prediction: 10th place