Staff picks: British Open

Tiger Woods after winning the 2005 British Open at St. Andrews.

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JEFF RUDE

  • Winner: Justin Rose. In his last three PGA Tour starts, Rose has won twice and held the 63-hole lead in the other. He is in full flower, playing better than ever and anybody else at the moment. His confidence is soaring so high he could ride home on it to the UK.
  • Sleeper: Dustin Johnson. The par at the Old Course at St. Andrews is 72. I’m not sure what the par for the long-hitting Johnson might be. Perhaps 68, depending on wind? Johnson, who blew up after leading the U.S. Open by three after 54 holes, has the potential to dismantle the place. It’s just his second Open Championship, but he’ll love and fare well at the Old Course.

• • •

ALISTAIR TAIT

British Open

Site: St. Andrews, Scotland

Courses: St. Andrews Golf Links (7,040 yards, par 71)

Purse: $7.5 million

Winner’s share: $1.35 million

  • Winner: Rory McIlroy. The kid’s inspired by Graeme McDowell’s U.S. Open win. He skipped the Scottish Open last week to prepare for this major. He loves St. Andrews. Throw all that into the mix and he looks like a good bet.
  • Sleeper: Tim Clark. Winning The Players should give him the confidence he needs to pull off his first major. He doesn’t make mistakes and keeps it steady. More importantly, he doesn’t have to worry too much about chipping this week, supposedly the weakest part of his game. The large greens at St. Andrews eliminate that part of the game for most players. That should play into Clark’s favor.

• • • 

ALEX MICELI

  • Winner: Phil Mickelson. I know this is a wild and wacky pick considering Phil’s poor Open Championship record. That being said, it’s a good venue for him.
  • Sleeper: Ricky Barnes. As hot as a pistol over the last couple of months, he did not shy away from the limelight at the U.S. Open. He does have one major under his belt (U.S. Amateur).

• • •

JEFF BABINEAU

  • Winner: Tiger Woods. The guy finished fourth at the Masters and fourth at the U.S. Open, playing in essence, nine good holes at the latter. Do we really believe his major victory needle is going to stick at 14? Really? He shoots under par at the Old Course in his sleep. I say the winless year ends in Scotland.
  • Sleeper: Davis Love III. Caught a break by getting in late, and he'll make the most of his trip across the pond. He's not playing his greatest right now, but there's something about playing golf at St. Andrews – and competing in one's 24th Open – that can stir the inner spirit.

• • •

JIM McCABE

  • Winner: Ernie Els. Yes, Tiger Woods has won twice at St. Andrews, but the best links player of his generation is the big man from South Africa. He owns one claret jug, probably should have two, and seems to be at home amid wind, sand dunes, and firm, long-running sod that demands ball-striking brilliance.
  • Sleeper: Ian Poulter. He’s fallen to No. 61 in the Sagarin rankings, so this sounds like a steal, because the flashy Englishman has played very well in the big tournaments the last few years and appears poised for a huge breakthrough.

• • •

JAMES ACHENBACH

  • Winner: Angel Cabrera. The winner will not wear a green hat. The winner will not be Justin Rose. The winner will be Angel Cabrera. Golf needs another player besides Tiger Woods (are you listening, Phil?) to win three different majors. Cabrera is the man. He plays a lot like John Daly, who won at St. Andrews in 1995.
  • Sleeper: John Daly. Maybe he will be inhabited by the ghost of Old Tom Morris.

• • •

DAN MIROCHA

  • Winner: Rory McIlroy. Back-to-back major victories by Irishmen? Pour me a pint of Smithwick’s and put some Van Morrison on the jukebox.
  • Sleeper: Miguel Angel Jimenez. Coming off a victory in France and has placed in the top 13 in two of the last three Open Championships.

British Open field based on the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index:

  • Tiger Woods
  • Lee Westwood
  • Steve Stricker
  • Jim Furyk
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Padraig Harrington
  • Retief Goosen
  • Matt Kuchar
  • Francesco Molinari
  • Luke Donald
  • Camilo Villegas
  • Rory McIlroy
  • Ben Crane
  • Justin Rose
  • Zach Johnson
  • Ernie Els
  • Paul Casey
  • Kenny Perry
  • Edoardo Molinari
  • Tim Clark
  • Graeme McDowell
  • Charl Schwartzel
  • Peter Hanson
  • Nick Watney
  • Dustin Johnson
  • Robert Allenby
  • JB Holmes
  • K.J. Choi
  • Angel Cabrera
  • Martin Kaymer
  • Stewart Cink
  • Bo Van Pelt
  • Thongchai Jaidee
  • Kevin Na
  • Tom Lehman
  • Henrik Stenson
  • Jason Bohn
  • Bradley Dredge
  • Sergio Garcia
  • Jerry Kelly
  • Jason Day
  • Y.E. Yang
  • Sean O’Hair
  • Scott Verplank
  • Gareth Maybin
  • Bill Haas
  • Ryan Moore
  • Geoff Ogilvy
  • Ricky Barnes
  • Simon Dyson
  • Ian Poulter
  • Steve Marino
  • Adam Scott
  • Soren Hansen
  • Justin Leonard
  • Hunter Mahan
  • Alvaro Quiros
  • Heath Slocum
  • Rhys Davies
  • Rickie Fowler
  • Soren Kjeldsen
  • Oliver Wilson
  • Stephen Gallacher
  • Mike Weir
  • Miguel Angel Jimenez
  • Vijay Singh
  • Hiroyuki Fujita
  • Kyung-Tae Kim
  • Martin Laird
  • Brian Gay
  • Ryo Ishikawa
  • Lucas Glover
  • Jeff Overton
  • Ross Fisher
  • Ignacio Garrido
  • Michael Sim
  • Louis Oosthuizen
  • Jason Dufner
  • Robert Karlsson
  • Alexander Noren
  • John Senden
  • Chris Wood
  • Yuta Ikeda
  • Tim Petrovic
  • Ben Curtis
  • Bubba Watson
  • Tom Pernice Jr
  • Marc Leishman
  • Ross McGowan
  • Davis Love III
  • D.A. Points
  • Darren Clarke
  • Toru Taniguchi
  • Anders Hansen
  • Paul Lawrie
  • Thomas Aiken
  • Alejandro Canizares
  • Paul Goydos
  • Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
  • Richard S. Johnson
  • Robert Rock
  • Seung-Yul Noh
  • Cameron Percy
  • Koumei Oda
  • George McNeill
  • Fredrik Andersson Hed
  • Katsumasa Miyamoto
  • Trevor Immelman
  • Shane Lowry
  • Hirofumi Miyase
  • Colin Montgomerie
  • Simon Khan
  • John Daly
  • Mathew Goggin
  • Marcel Siem
  • Mark Calcavecchia
  • Thomas Levet
  • Tano Goya
  • Colm Moriarty
  • Gregory Havret
  • Ryuichi Oda
  • Danny Chia
  • Thomas Bjorn
  • Steven Tiley
  • Andrew Coltart
  • Glen Day
  • David Duval
  • Kurt Barnes
  • Mark F. Haastrup
  • Todd Hamilton
  • Josh Cunliffe
  • Jose Manuel Lara
  • Tom Whitehouse
  • Phillip Archer
  • Gary Clark
  • Ewan Porter
  • Jean Hugo
  • Zane Scotland
  • N/R. a-Byeong-Hun An
  • N/R. Darren Fichardt
  • N/R. Eric Chun
  • N/R. Jae-Bum Park
  • N/R. Jamie Abbott
  • N/R. a-Jin Jeong
  • N/R. Laurie Canter
  • N/R. Loren Roberts
  • N/R. Mark O’Meara
  • N/R. Paul Streeter
  • N/R. Peter Senior
  • N/R. Sandy Lyle
  • N/R. Shunsuke Sonoda
  • N/R. Simon Edwards
  • N/R. Nick Faldo
  • N/R. Tom Watson
  • N/R. Tyrrell Hatton
  • N/R. a-Victor Dubuisson
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