The 2011 British Open is being played at Royal St George’s, and the course measures over 7,200 yards to a par 70 on a good day. As you survey the fairway prior to your tee shot, it looks like an endless terrain of dunes and hills. Even a great first shot could land in the fairway only to bounce into no man’s land.
Picking a winner at the Open Championship is a difficult task because of the unknown weather conditions a player will have to endure. It might be someone who scores par after bouncing back from a couple of tough rounds.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 favorites (odds are provided by Bodog) at Royal St George’s not named Rory McIlroy.
Lee Westwood holds the distinction of being the best player in the sport not to win a major championship. He could be the European version of Phil Mickelson, as Westwood has come close on several occasions. In his last seven major appearances, he has finished in the top three five times.
It’s only a matter of time before Westwood is holding a trophy at one of these events.
Luke Donald is currently ranked the No. 1 golfer in the world and is coming into the Open Championship with a win at the Scottish Open. His playing style handles Royal St George’s very well, as Donald is a conservative golfer who uses his irons to leave himself very makeable putts.
The course has plenty of traps surrounding the greens. A low-risk approach could earn Donald a major championship.
Phil Mickelson is too talented and too creative on a golf course to have never won a British Open. He has teased us before with magical weekends at a major, and Royal St George’s offers him an excellent opportunity to string together four solid rounds for another major championship win.
Paddy Harrington is having a disappointing season thus far, but that could be turned around very quickly with a win at Royal St George’s. A change of scenery is exactly what Harrington needs. The course conditions require a player with mental toughness and the ability to hit a high number of quality shots.
In the past, Ian Poulter has shown a lot of guts and grit while playing in a major. Who could forget his runner-up performance at Royal Birkdale in 2008?
He can hit tee shots long enough to stay in contention all weekend. Sunday night could be very special if Poulter hangs around and shows patience on the greens.
Steve Stricker needs to get on some kind of run, as he seems to be fully recovered from the shoulder injury he sustained last year. Stricker’s win at the John Deere Classic could set him on a memorable rebound in the right direction.
The atmosphere overseas could sharpen his skills to a surprising major championship win.
Bubba Watson’s carefree attitude could lead him to a victory at the Open Championship. He could bring Royal St George’s to its knee with his lengthy tee shots. This course favors the big bombers, and Watson has the moxie to stay in contention all weekend long.
Angel Cabrera plays well at majors (he has won two). In the spirit of Greg Norman and Tom Watson, this old vet still has game.
The young players will complain more about the weather conditions if the wind speed picks up and the rain is pouring down on the course, while the old pros will focus more on winning a major championship.
Miguel Angel Jimenez is on a roll, as he won in Paris two weeks ago. His youthful spirit will allow him to think he can win the Open Championship, but will Jimenez’s age (46) hold him back?
If he putts well, then Jimenez will contend at Royal St George’s.
Nobody is playing better or has more confidence than Justin Rose, but this year he is never mentioned as a favorite to win a major. His two most recent victories on the tour have prepared him to go the distance at Royal St George’s.