2011 British Open: Will Luke Donald or Lee Westwood Claim Their First Major?

Michael DixonAnalyst IIIJuly 7, 2011

BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 16:  (L-R) Luke Donald of England and Lee Westwood of England look on from the 16th tee during the first round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 16, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy is the odds on favorite to win the British Open. That's really undeniable. He's not at the level that Tiger Woods was at in 2000, but he's the closest thing to Tiger that we've seen since Tiger's debut.

But just for now, let's assume that McIlroy won't win. Who is the favorite now?

Well, the top two golfers in the world are Luke Donald and Lee Westwood. McIlroy is actually only fourth in the official rankings.

Given the natural home course advantage that the Englishmen will have in the British Open, Donald and Westwood are certainly good bets to win.

The problem is that both have some baggage. They've both been around a while and neither has won a major yet.

Now, the same could be said about Phil Mickelson before he won the 2004 Masters, so shouldn't the same logic apply to Donald and Westwood?

In a word, yes, it should and yes, it does.

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There is no reason to believe that Westwood and Donald won't win majors at some point in their careers. They've been consistent players for the better part of the last decade. Those are the kinds of guys who eventually break through, look at Stewart Cink at the 2009 British Open, or Padraig Harrington when he won his three majors between 2007 and 2008.

The last time the British Open was at Royal St. George's was in 2003. There, Ben Curtis came from out of nowhere to win. If that happens again, Donald and Westwood will have to keep waiting.

But right behind Curtis were Vijay Singh and Thomas Bjorn, who lost by one stroke, and Tiger and Davis Love III, who lost by two. Now we're looking at guys who were expected to contend. This isn't just an underdog course.

Will they win? Making a spot prediction, no they probably won’t. That's actually got nothing to do with McIlroy; it's just hard to say that any one player or two players will win a tournament.

But if I had to guess, I would say that they both will win a major at some point. I would also say that they're both likely to win a British Open more than any other major.

Yes, McIlroy is the favorite this year, but players don't often win multiple majors in a season and back-to-back wins are even rarer.

Padraig Harrington was the last to do either in 2008, when he won the British Open and the PGA Championship. Tiger Woods was the last person to win the US Open and British Open in the same year, doing that in 2000.

Following that logic, don't be surprised to see one of them claim the Claret Jug next week.