2012 Open Championship: Staff predictions

Lee Westwood, Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington are three favorites from our experts.

Lee Westwood, Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington are three favorites from our experts.

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- The field is set. The practice rounds were in full force on Tuesday morning at Royal Lytham & St. Annes for the 2012 Open Championship. And now it is time to put our prognostication skills to the test.

Does Tiger Woods finally breakthrough? Will Lee Westwood or Luke Donald finally get their first major championship? Will Rory McIlroy look more like, well, Rory McIlroy? Can Padraig Harrington added another Claret Jug to his collection?

A cool fact to take into account: 15 different players have won the last 15 majors. That's startling considering the world had grown accustomed to Tiger winning multiple majors every year.

But Tiger even admitted on Tuesday that fields are deeper than ever, and that trend will likely continue as golf grows into a true international sport.

So, who are our favorites? Who is an underdog to take a look at?

Want to make your own picks? Play our Fantasy Pick 'Em Challenge by clicking here and signing up today!

Staffer Favorite Sleeper
Babineau Tiger Woods

I know, it’ll never happen, right? Especially after his vanishing act on the weekend at Olympic. But this Open Championship is going to be a long, wet slog. So beyond the need to hit it straight, to make putts, etc., one has to be mentally tough – really mentally tough – just to hang around. And is anyone any better prepared mentally than him?

 

Padraig Harrington

The three-time major champion is rounding into form quite nicely, and might be ready to pounce again at a big event.

Rude Lee Westwood

Best driver of the ball in the game. Royal Lytham requires precise ball-striking, and that's his thing. Overdue to win a major.

 

Simon Dyson

Believe in omens over here. Saw him in the Hertz parking lot upon landing at the Manchester Airport. Omens have come through here before.

 

McCabe Padraig Harrington

There have been glimpses of terrific play and one could argue he may have won the Masters or U.S. Open had he putted well. (He finished T-8 and T-4.) Wet and sloppy weather? There was plenty of that in Carnoustie and Birkdale, both of them Harrington wins.

 

George Coetzee

He made a splash for himself at Royal St. George's a year ago and slowly but surely, the young South African has turned into a steady force. A long shot? Sure, but who would have picked Stewart Cink to win in 2009, or Louis Oosthuizen the next year, or Darren Clarke a year ago?

 

Miceli Lee Westwood

As long as health is not an issue, the Englishman should be in the mix. WIth a course that requires superb ball striking, Westwood will be the pick.

 

Francesco Molinari

Another solid ball striker. Last week at Castle Stuart was not a fluke. In both Molinari and Westwood's case they will need to make putts on a golf course that is not as demanding with the flat stick as other Open venues.

 

Tait Alexander Noren

Given that the last three winners – Darren Clarke, Louis Oosthuizen and Stewart Cink – have come out of left field, a relative unknown should win this week. Former Oklahoma State player Noren should fit that role. Maybe unfair, since the Swede is a good player, but I’m going for him as favorite since he’s a left-field guy.

 

Lee Westwood

Based on the logic at left, Westwood has to be an underdog this week. Maybe that’s the way he can finally get his hands on a major trophy.

Ringler Tiger Woods

Has played well at good venues and good events this year. Royal Lytham & St. Annes will require one's game to be precise. Tiger has been precise three times this year.

 

Francesco Molinari

Nearly won last week at Scottish Open and has climbed to No. 11 in Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index.

Masuda Tiger Woods

I am starting to feel like a broken record by picking Tiger, but his ball striking has been the best in the world and he'll need it this week at Lytham. This tournament is going to come down to who is the toughest in between their ears, and no one is better than Tiger.

 

Padraig Harrington

There are a number of guys that you could take here, but what's safer than going with a guy that has won two Open titles and hasn't finished outside the top 15 in his last four starts?

The field according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings:

  • 1. Lee Westwood
  • 2. Luke Donald
  • 3. Adam Scott
  • 4. Matt Kuchar
  • 5. Sergio Garcia
  • 6. Tiger Woods
  • 7. Rory McIlroy
  • 8. Steve Stricker
  • 9. Hunter Mahan
  • 10. Jason Dufner
  • 11. Francesco Molinari
  • 12. Jim Furyk
  • 13. Justin Rose
  • 15. Zach Johnson
  • 16. Bubba Watson
  • 17. Bo Van Pelt
  • 18. Marcel Siem
  • 19. Rickie Fowler
  • 20. Phil Mickelson
  • 21. Charl Schwartzel
  • 23. Peter Hanson
  • 24. Fredrik Jacobson
  • 25. Nick Watney
  • 26. Ernie Els
  • 28. Ian Poulter
  • 29. Dustin Johnson
  • 30. John Huh
  • 31. Martin Kaymer
  • 33. Brandt Snedeker
  • 34. Keegan Bradley
  • 35. Nicolas Colsaerts
  • 36. Kevin Na
  • 38. Carl Pettersson
  • 39. Geoff Ogilvy
  • 40. Jamie Donaldson
  • 45. Charles Howell III
  • 47. Paul Lawrie
  • 48. Martin Laird
  • 50. Padraig Harrington
  • 51. Louis Oosthuizen
  • 53. Graeme McDowell
  • 54. Bill Haas
  • 56. Joost Luiten
  • 57. Simon Dyson
  • 59. Rafael Cabrera-Bello
  • 62. Greg Chalmers
  • 64. Jonathan Byrd
  • 65. Thomas Bjorn
  • 68. Alexander Noren
  • 69. Vijay Singh
  • 70. K.J. Choi
  • 71. Trevor Immelman
  • 74. Aaron Baddeley
  • 75. Harris English
  • 76. Y.E. Yang
  • 77. Marc Leishman
  • 79. Thongchai Jaidee
  • 80. Kyle Stanley
  • 82. Mark Wilson
  • 85. Gary Woodland
  • 89. Pablo Larrazabal
  • 91. Anders Hansen
  • 93. Yoshinori Fujimoto
  • 95. Hiroyuki Fujita
  • 96. George Coetzee
  • 99. Ross Fisher
  • 102. Sang-moon Bae
  • 104. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
  • 106. Johnson Wagner
  • 107. Koumei Oda
  • 109. Jeev Milkha Singh
  • 112. Ben Curtis
  • 114. Richie Ramsay
  • 115. Toru Taniguchi
  • 116. Marcus Fraser
  • 117. Chad Campbell
  • 119. Robert Rock
  • 121. K.T. Kim
  • 124. Retief Goosen
  • 132. Bob Estes
  • 133. Robert Allenby
  • 138. Brendan Jones
  • 145. Chez Reavie
  • 147. Miguel Angel Jimenez
  • 152. Ryo Ishikawa
  • 162. Davis Love III
  • 164. Tim Clark
  • 165. Gregory Havret
  • 170. Thomas Aiken
  • 171. Richard Sterne
  • 173. Andres Romero
  • 174. Alejandro Canizares
  • 175. Alvaro Quiros
  • 177. Greg Owen
  • 195. Toshinori Muto
  • 200. Stewart Cink
  • 203. James Driscoll
  • 204. Raphael Jacquelin
  • 210. John Daly
  • 222. Ted Potter Jr.
  • 222. John Senden
  • 237. Branden Grace
  • 241. Thorbjorn Olesen
  • 259. Sam Walker
  • 260. Lucas Glover
  • 261. James Morrison
  • 263. Troy Matteson
  • 264. Jbe Kruger
  • 277. Justin Leonard
  • 288. Matthew Baldwin
  • 300. Nicholas Cullen
  • 303. Prayad Marksaeng
  • 320. Garth Mulroy
  • 335. Michael Hoey
  • 344. Stephen Ames
  • 346. Andrew Georgiou
  • 357. Brad Kennedy
  • 361. Juvic Pagunsan
  • 366. Steven Tiley
  • 373. Lee Slattery
  • 381. Simon Khan
  • 383. Troy Kelly
  • 406. Ashley Hall
  • 407. Paul Casey
  • 412. Tadahiro Takayama
  • 423. Justin Hicks
  • 448. Anirban Lahiri
  • 481. Steven O'Hara
  • 502. Morten Orum Madsen
  • 507. Adilson Da Silva
  • 520. Darren Clarke
  • 559. Richard Finch
  • 577. Mardan Mamat
  • 605. Daniel Chopra
  • 650. Angel Cabrera
  • 726. Steven Alker
  • 729. David Duval
  • 731. Rafael Echenique
  • 739. Aaron Townsend
  • 804. Todd Hamilton
  • 855. Kodai Ichihara
  • 933. Elliot Saltman
  • N/R. Barry Lane
  • N/R. Sandy Lyle
  • N/R. Warren Bennett
  • N/R. Dale Whitnell
  • N/R. Tom Lehman
  • N/R. Robert Karlsson
  • N/R. a-Alan Dunbar
  • N/R. Scott Pinckney
  • N/R. Paul Broadhurst
  • N/R. Ian Keenan
  • N/R. Mark Calcavecchia
  • N/R. Tom Watson
  • N/R. Grant Veenstra
  • N/R. Russ Cochran
  • N/R. a-Manuel Trappel
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