The time has finally arrived. The season's third major, the Open Championship, otherwise known as the British Open, is upon us. The 2012 Open will officially begin at Royal Lytham and St Annes on July 19. No one knows who will claim the Claret Jug this year. I wish I could tell you that I did know the name of the eventual champion. Of course if I did it might make sense to drop as many pounds as I could at some bookmaking operation. That way I could take the winnings and work on my own game for the next few years.
While I do not know the name of the Champion Golfer of the Year I think I might know some of the men that will contend for the Claret Jug. Here is my attempt to identify some of the challengers in the 2012 Open field. For the purposes of this discussion I have broken down the contenders into four groups.
Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson
You knew that I had to start here. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are the biggest stars in the golf galaxy and are quite deserving of the attention which they receive. Woods is still the betting favorite for the 2012 Open Championship. In my mind, one of these players will probably contend but not both. It would not surprise me in the least to see Mickelson or Woods on the leaderboard as the tournament advances to the later rounds. However, I do not think that both will play well enough to contend.
One of the Englishmen
Luke Donald is the world's number one ranked golfer. Lee Westwood is third in the world rankings and Justin Rose is ranked ninth. All three men hail from jolly 'ole England. The 2012 Open Championship will be held in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire. For us Americans, that is in England. All three players are quite talented. All will receive strong crowd support. It would seem likely that one of them will be able to string some good rounds together and make a run at the Claret Jug.
A Good Young Player
You are probably thinking that this is a very broad category. It is indeed. However, I think that this group will likely provide a contender. This is probably not a complete list but I want to throw out some names here. Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson are great players and are very capable of contending for the Open Championship. One or more of the good young golfers that we see every week is going to contend in 2012.
An Obscure Player
Someone with whom many of us are unfamiliar will rise into contention during the third or fourth rounds. If I had a name for you I would definitely include it, but that is how this works. A golfer that is unknown to many of us is going to make a run at the Claret Jug. This man could even win. It is certainly not without precedent. How many of us were well acquainted with the careers of Louis Oosthuizen, Ben Curtis or Todd Hamilton prior to their Open Championship wins?
Dwight is an avid golfer. While still relatively new to the game, he plays as often as the weather and his schedule will allow.
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