Although it is a wide-open tournament at Royal Liverpool with over 150 competitors looking to win the 2014 British Open, there are a few contenders that stand above the rest.
After an extended run of major championships going to first-time winners, the last few events have gone to players who have been there before. Martin Kaymer won his second career major at the U.S. Open, while Bubba Watson won the Masters for the second time this year.
Additionally, the past two winners at The Open Championship—Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els—have a combined nine major titles in their careers.
While this does not guarantee a past champion or a favorite will be able to win this weekend, it certainly bodes well for the bigger names on tour. Here are the odds for the tournament, courtesy of OddsChecker, along with a breakdown of the favorites at Hoylake.
Although Henrik Stenson has never won a major, he has certainly come close over the past year. He finished in a tie for fourth at the U.S. Open, tied for 14th at the Masters, third at the PGA Championship and second at the British Open.
If it was not for Mickelson's incredible run to conclude his fourth round last year, Stenson likely would have become the first Swedish player ever to win a major.
As close as he came in 2013, he has just as good of a chance of winning the Claret Jug this time around. He is one of the most consistent players on tour and has been red hot lately, as noted by Ryan Lavner of Golf Channel:
My new favorite for the Open is a guy who hasn't won in 7 1/2 months: Henrik Stenson. Dude has 6 top 7s in his last 7 starts.— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) June 30, 2014
Chris Cutmore of the Daily Mail believes Stenson is the smartest bet to make for this tournament:
Of the favourites, Henrik Stenson looks the best bet. The hulking Swede also has a slight weakness in his putting but is the best ballstriker in the world right now.
It surely is only a matter of time before he wins his first major. Stenson’s Open record is mightily impressive after three top three finishes in his last five appearances, including a near miss at Muirfield last year.
If Stenson can play up to his ability, he should once again at least be among the top names on the leaderboard this weekend.
In recent weeks, no one has been better than Justin Rose. The English star won the Quicken Loans National before crossing the Atlantic Ocean and winning the Scottish Open. Considering Mickelson won the Scottish Open before turning that into a victory at the British Open, Rose has to be confident.
However, the veteran has not fared well at this tournament in recent years. When he finished tied for 44th at the 2011 Open Championship, it was the only time in the past four seasons he even made the cut.
Despite these struggles, this tournament remains a goal Rose has had since he was younger, via James Riach of The Guardian:
This is the one that I holed the putt as a junior to win on the putting green through years of practice. Thousands of time I’ve won the Open Championship in my mind. This is probably the one I’ve dreamed about the most. I think when you’re chasing major championships, any of them will do. But if you’re lucky enough to win this one, I think it would be incredibly special.
Rose has already won a major championship at the 2013 U.S. Open, but the true test is if he can come away with his second title. Although his talent gives him a chance, he will have to perform like he has in the past few weeks and not the past couple of years at this tournament.
Hopefully, playing alongside Adam Scott and Jason Dufner in the first two rounds will force him to raise his game and play to his best ability.
Few players have been more consistent at big tournaments than Scott. In his last 11 majors, he has one win, seven top-10s and only one finish outside of the top 15.
In his last two trips to the British Open, he finished in second and third place. Now he is looking to turn that success into a second major title, and he is quite confident he will do it. Scott explained, via Tony Jimenez of The Sydney Morning Herald:
I am very much looking forward to trying to keep momentum from the last two years going. There is nothing else on my mind right now other than executing this week.
I'm playing some of the best golf of my life at the moment so I should really be taking advantage of it and stepping up and putting myself in with a good chance. I got up here on Thursday and I've played every day...with the idea of getting very comfortable and familiar with the course
The fact he is playing the best golf of his life is almost an understatement. The player has always been solid in his driving strength, accuracy and ability to get to the green in regulation. However, he has found a way to improve the weakest part of his game: putting.
According to PGATour.com, Scott ranked 148th in the world in strokes gained in putting in 2012. He improved to 102nd in 2013, but this year he is up to 15th in the world. Something that used to hold him back is now a strength.
This is bad news for the rest of the tour because Scott has the ability to succeed on any course and should have a good tournament at Royal Liverpool.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.