The Sports Xchange's 2013 PGA Tour rankings, selected by TSX Golf Staff, based on 2012-2013 performance.
1. Tiger Woods, United States -- A few years ago, Woods claimed that the Open Championship had become his favorite major, because the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews doesn't feel the need to trick up the classic links courses, which for the most part have stood the test of time. He will find that Muirfield this week is 158 yards longer than it was when he tied for 28th the last time the oldest championship was played there in 2002, and despite some other cosmetic changes, the shot values are still the same. ... Woods, who has been stuck on 14 major titles since the 2008 U.S. Open, has won the Open Championship three times, in 2000 and 2005 at St. Andrews, and in 2006 at Royal Liverpool. He has five other top-10 finishes in the tournament, including a tie for third last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, when started 67-67 and was in position to make a run at the title before shooting 3-over-par 73 in the final round. ... Tiger, who has not played because of a left elbow injury since he tied for 32nd in the U.S. Open last month, came into the 2002 Open at Muirfield off victories in the Masters and the U.S. Open in a bid to capture the Grand Slam. He was right there after starting with 70-68 but was caught in the worst of a miserably wet and windy weather on Saturday and shot 10-over-par 81, his highest score as a pro. Even though he closed with a 65, Woods finished six strokes out of the playoff in which Ernie Els beat Stuart Appleby, Thomas Levet and Steve Elkington.
2. Justin Rose, England -- Still basking in the glow of claiming his first major championship in the U.S. Open at Merion last month, Rose will be among the favorites this week in the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield. And he certainly will be the gallery favorite of the English fans who will make their way north after he became the first Englishman to capture one of golf's Grand Slam events since Sir Nick Faldo overcame Greg Norman at the 1996 Masters. ... Rosy, who has six top-10 finishes this season on both major tours, still has not done better in the oldest championship in the world than his tie for fourth in 1998 at Royal Birkdale, where he holed a chip shot on the final hole to claim low amateur honors. In fact, he does not have another top-10 finish in the tournament, with his best result as a professional a tie for 12th in 2007 at Carnoustie. ... Rose, who has won three times in England but never in Scotland, had his chances the last time the Open Championship was played at Muirfield in 2002, opening with a 3-under-par 68 to sit in fourth place. He fell down the leaderboard with a 75 the next day, but bounced back with another 68 on a miserable Saturday to climb into third, before closing with a 72 that left him in a tie for 22nd. Before winning at Merion, his best finish in the majors was a tie for third in the PGA Championship last year at Kiawah Island, and he has three top-10 finishes in the last six Grand Slam tournaments.
3. Matt Kuchar, United States -- His consistently top-drawer play over the last four years has put Kooch at or at least near the top of the list of players overdue to win that elusive first major championship this week in the Open Championship at Muirfield. Finishing in the top 10 in 35 PGA Tour events in the last three-plus seasons is one thing, but he has started to put himself in position in the majors, too, with three top-10 finishes in the majors in the last two years, including ties for third and eighth in the last two Masters. ... Kuchar missed the cut in his first five appearances and six of the first seven in the third major of the season, but last year turned that around at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, starting with 69-67 before playing the weekend in 72-72 to wind up in a tie for ninth. One of those missed cuts came at Muirfield in 2002, when he shot 75-70 -- 145 to miss the weekend by one stroke. ... Kuchar's career has been a bit like that of Justin Rose, the U.S. Open champion, tremendous promise early and a long drought before finally blossoming into a champion. The quality of Kooch's victories against strong fields in the 2012 Players Championship, the 2010 Barclays during the PGA Tour playoffs, plus this year in the Memorial Tournament and the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, show that he is capable of winning at the highest level. He also teamed with Gary Woodland to claim the 2011 World Cup and what already is shaping up as a career year might mean he is ready to break through and win a major at age 34.
4. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland -- Despite the fact that McIlroy is on the short list of players with multiple victories in the majors and remains one of the favorites of the bookies heading into the 142nd Open Championship this week, it would be difficult to bet on him the way he has played for much of this year. On the other hand, he has had his moments, finishing second in the Valero Texas Open and tying for eighth in the Players Championship and the WGC-Cadillac Championship, so his class could reappear at any time. ... Rory is playing in the third major of the year for the sixth time, and seemed to be headed for a possible victory when he opened with a 9-under-par 63 in 2010 at St. Andrews, but he followed that with an 80 in windy conditions the next day. He bounced back with 69-68 on the weekend to finish in a tie for third, his only top-10 finish in the Open Championship. Even though he grew up playing in the cold and windy weather of Northern Ireland, McIlroy told reporters in 2011 at Royal St. George's, on his way to a tie for 25th, that he would rather play golf when it's 80 degrees and the wind is calm. ... Hearing that statement, it makes sense that McIlroy's major titles have come in the heat of the American summer in the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional and the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. That didn't mean much last month at Merion, where he shot 75-76 on the weekend to tie for 41st in the U.S. Open, before going home to miss the cut in the Irish Open. But, again, you never know.
5. Adam Scott, Australia -- It appeared that Scott's first major title, which he finally claimed in April when he became the first Aussie to win the Masters, was going to come last July in the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. It speaks volumes about is resiliency that he was able to win at Augusta National so soon after melting down with bogeys on the last four holes of the third major of the year in 2012, allowing Ernie Els to steal away with the title by making a birdie on the 18th hole. ... Scotty will be making his 14th start in the oldest championship in the world and played by far his best golf in the tournament last year, when he opened with 64-67-68 to take the lead after 54 holes, before closing with a 5-over-par 75. He posted only his second top-10 finish in the Open, the other being a tie for eighth in 2006 at Royal Liverpool, when he recorded rounds of 68-69-70 before closing with a par 72. When the tournament was last played at Muirfield in 2002, he shot 77-68 -- 145 and missed the cut by one stroke. ... After posting four top-10 finishes in the majors earlier in his career, including a tie for third in the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah, Scott went through a drought of four years in the Grand Slam events, failing to finish in the top 15 over a stretch of 16 outings. However, he has proved to be the major player Australia expected when they called him the next Greg Norman, finishing in the top 10 five times in the last three years, including a tie for second in the 2011 Masters.
6. Brandt Snedeker, United States -- In spite of yet another injury that sidelined him for several weeks early this season and some uneven play since, Snedeker remains a player to watch in the Open Championship this week at Muirfield. He was the best player in the world for the first six weeks of the season, with four finishes in the top three, including a victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. And even though he has missed the cut in four events since his return, he tied for sixth in the Masters and tied for 17th in the U.S. Open last month at Merion. ... After missing the cut in his first three appearances in the Open Championship, Sneds seemed to figure out links golf last year, when he tied for third at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. It appeared he might be holding the Claret Jug on Sunday night when he opened with 66-64 to take the 54-hole lead, and still was second heading to the final round, but he played the weekend in 73-74. The tie for third equaled his best finish in the majors, established in the 2008 Masters. ... The 32-year-old Snedeker is a hyper sort who has shown some nerves when in or near the lead late in the majors, starting with the final-round 5-over-par 77 that left him in tears five years ago at Augusta National. It was similar this year in the Masters, when he began the final round tied for the lead with Angel Cabrera of Argentina but closed with a 75. However, he keeps putting himself in position with six top-20 finishes in the majors in the last three years and is due to break through.
7. Phil Mickelson, United States -- Lefty has never been a great wind player, but when the breeze finally arrived in the final round of the Aberdeen Asset Scottish Open last week, he was up to the challenge. He posted a 3-under-par 69 and despite a hiccup on the 72nd hole, beat Branden Grace of South Africa with a brilliant pitch shot to within inches of the cup for a birdie on the first playoff hole. Phil collected the 50th victory of his pro career but his first in Europe since the 1993 Tournai Perrier de Paris, and will be one of the favorites this week in the 142nd Open Championship. ... Mickelson, coming off his record sixth runner-up finish in the U.S. Open last month, will be seeking his fifth major title this week at Muirfield, but he has only two top-10 finishes in 19 starts in the third major of the season. He posted his best result two years ago, when closed with a 2-under-par 68 and tied for second, three strokes behind champion Darren Clarke at Royal St. George's. Lefty also finished solo third in 2004 at Royal Troon, when he followed an opening 2-over-par 73 with 66-68-68, to wind up one stroke out of the playoff in which Todd Hamilton defeated Ernie Els. He shot 73-78 -- 151 last year and recorded his fourth missed cut in the tournament. ... Lefty was sharp all last week at Castle Stuart, especially when he posted 6-under-par 66s in the first and third rounds. He could have won in regulation but three-putted from the fringe for bogey on the final hole before winning in the playoff with his 24th birdie of the week.
8. Luke Donald, England -- Donald played several majors in the last few years as the No. 1 player in the World Golf Rankings and remains one of two players, Lee Westwood is the other, to hold the top spot without claiming a title in the Grand Slam events. He has had something of a disappointing season thus far, going winless after claming seven titles around the world in the previous two years, but flying under the radar might take off some of the pressure heading into the Open Championship this week at Muirfield. ... Donald is playing in the third major of the year for the 13th time and posted both his top-10 finishes in the last four years. He tied for fifth in 2009 at Turnberry, where he closed with a 3-under-par 67, and tied for fifth again last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, posting a 2-under-par 68 in the second round and closing with a 69. Luke missed the cut in his first five appearances, and six times in all in the Open, including in 2002 at Muirfield, where his 73-74 -- 147 left him three shots shy of playing on the weekend. ... Donald, along with Westwood, were the two top candidates to become the first Englishman to claim a major title since Nick Faldo won the 2006 Masters, but Justin Rose beat them to it by winning the U.S. Open last month at Merion. Luke has finished in the top 10 in the Grand Slam events four times in the last four years, but his best major results were ties for third in the 2005 Masters and the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah.
9. Bill Haas, United States -- Winning the AT&T National at the end of June, his fifth title in the last four years on the PGA Tour, boosted Haas in the eyes of the bookmakers, who made him a 100-1 shot to win the Open Championship this week at Muirfield. That's something for a guy who never has finished in the top 10 in any of the Grand Slam events. ... Haas has played in the third major of the year three times previously, and has gotten better with each attempt. After shooting 73-77 -- 150 to miss the cut by four strokes in 2010 at St. Andrews, he tied for 57th in 2011 at Royal St. George's and tied for 19th last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Billy shot 68-68 in the middle rounds a year ago, his only sub-70 scores in 10 rounds in the oldest championship in the world. ... Bill's dad, Jay Haas, never captured a major title until he reached the Champions Tour, where he has won three, but Jay finished in the top 10 on 16 occasions in the Grand Slam events. Bill Haas has made only 15 appearances in the majors, with his rest finish a tie for 12th in the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club in 2011, the first year in which he appeared in all four Grand Slam events. He tied for 20th in the Masters this year and showed he can win a big tournament against a top field when he captured the 2011 Tour Championship at East Lake to take home the FedEx Cup, plus the $10-million bonus that came with it.
10. Dustin Johnson, United States -- Johnson might be the best player without a major title, or at least the most talented. The shame is, he probably should have had at least one victory in the Grand Slam tournaments and perhaps more by now. One of these days he might get out of his own way and let it happen. DJ is playing in the Open Championship for the fifth time, and after shooting 78-76 -- 154 to miss the cut by 10 strokes in 2009 at Turnberry, he has adapted well to links golf. His best chance came two years ago at Royal St. George's, when he shot 68-68 in the middle rounds, but he closed with a 2-over par 72 to tie for second, three shots behind Darren Clarke. Johnson was in the hunt until the 14th hole on Sunday but hit his second shot out of bounds en route to a double-bogey 7. He also tied for 14th in 2010 at St. Andrews, where he fell out of the top 10 by closing with a 74, and he tied for ninth last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. ... Of course, until he wins a major, Johnson will be reminded of two that got away. He took a three-stroke lead to the final round of the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach but did not make a birdie while closing with an 82 to tie for eighth. Later that year, he had a one-stroke lead on the 72nd hole of the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits but took a bogey on the final hole and then was assessed a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a bunker, missing the playoff in which Martin Kaymer beat Bubba Watson.
11. Webb Simpson, United States -- Since winning the U.S. Open last year at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, Simpson has not played back to that form in the majors. He skipped the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes to stay home for the birth of his second child, missed the cut in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in August and the Masters in April before tying for 32nd in his U.S. Open title defense at Merion. ... In his only appearance in the Open Championship, Simpson took to links golf quite well, finishing in a tie for 16th two years ago at Royal St. George's, where he opened with a 4-under-par 66 to post the third-best score of the day. That was the only year in which he has played in all four majors, and he showed that he could be a major player in the future by also finishing in a tie for 14th in the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional. ... Webb, who has played in only eight major championships since turning pro in 2008, has a bit of additional links golf experience, having helped the United States team defeat Great Britain and Ireland in the 2007 Walker Cup at Royal County Down Golf Club in Ireland. He has yet to play his best golf this season on the PGA Tour, but his three victories on the circuit in the previous two seasons have all come in June or later, so he could again be primed for a big second half after posting three scores in the mid-60s recently.
12. Steve Stricker, United States -- Playing in his favorite tournament, Stricker again took it low with four rounds in the 60s, but could not low enough and tied for 10th in the John Deere Classic, which he won three consecutive times through 2011. It was his fifth top-10 finish in eight tournaments this year, which means he has only three events remaining in a season in which he claims he will play only 11 times. ... Stricker has played in the Open Championship on 13 occasions but is skipping the trip to Muirfield this week, staying home in Madison, Wis., to celebrate his 20th wedding anniversary with his wife, Nikki. He has not missed the third major of the year since 2006, but he claims to have grown tired of the travel and his decision might have been influenced because he has finished in the top 10 only twice in the Open. He tied for seventh in 2008 at Royal Birkdale, after tying for eighth the year before at Carnoustie. It appears that Strick won't play again until the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on the first week in August. ... Stricker opened with 67-66 last week at TPC Deere Run, making his only bogey of the second round when he missed a five-foot putt on the final hole. He could manage only a 69 on Saturday, when he again made his only bogey on the 18th after he hit his approach shot into the water, and his closing 69 left him three strokes out of the playoff won by 19-year-old Jordan Spieth. Strick was sharp in all phases of the game, hitting more than 75 percent of the fairways and greens in addition to averaging 27.8 putts per round.
13. Keegan Bradley, United States -- Even though he broke the par of 71 in every round, that wasn't nearly enough for Bradley in the birdie-fest that was the John Deere Classic and he finished in a tie for 6lst. That had to be a disappointment, coming off a tie for 18th in the Travelers after missing the cut in three of his five previous events, including the U.S. Open at Merion. ... Keegan, who claimed his first and only major title in the 2011 PGA Championship, will be playing in the oldest championship in the world for the second time this week. In his first appearance last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, he broke 70 only with a 2-under-par 68 in the third round and finished in a tie for 34th. Since beat Jason Dufner in a playoff in the PGA at Atlanta Athletic Club two years ago, he has only one top-10 finish in the majors, a tie for third in the PGA Championship last year at Kiawah Island, and last month he shot 77-75 -- 152 to miss the cut by four strokes in the U.S. Open at Merion. ... Bradley started with rounds of 69-69 last week at TPC Deere Run but couldn't match that on the weekend, which he played in 70-70. At least he left with a good feeling heading to Muirfield when he salvaged his Sunday round by carding birdies on three of the last six holes. Bradley hit more than 70 percent of the fairways and greens but didn't perform well with his belly putter until the final round. After averaging 32.0 putts per round the first three days, including four three-putts, he needed only 26 putts on Sunday.
14. Lee Westwood, England -- Based on his record in the Grand Slam tournaments, especially in the last five years, Westwood might be the best golfer in the world without a major championship. He has been good enough to rise to the No. 1 spot in the World Golf Rankings but still does not have a major trophy on his resume despite a number of close calls. The Englishman has 15 top-10 results in the majors, with nine of them coming in the last five years. ... Westy is playing in the Open Championship for the 19th time, and his best finish was second in 2010 at St. Andrews, where he played well all the way but could not keep up with Louis Oosthuizen, who won by seven strokes. Probably his best chance got away in 2009 at Turnberry, where he was in the hunt before carding three bogeys on the last four holes, three-putting the final green to miss the playoff in which Stewart Cink turned back Tom Watson. He also finished a charging fourth in 2004 at Royal Troon, playing the weekend in 68-67, only to miss by four shots the playoff in which Todd Hamilton upset Ernie Els. ... Phil Mickelson has finished second a record six times in the U.S. Open, but he has his four major titles. Westwood has wound up second in the majors twice, third on five occasions, plus fourth and fifth one each. The book on Westy, a strong ball-striker, is that he can blame his failures on his short game. To that end, he has worked tirelessly on his chipping and sand play, in addition to recently recruiting former Open champion Ian Baker-Finch to help him with his putting.
15. Hunter Mahan, United States -- This year, once again, Mahan has shown he can come up big in the biggest tournaments and might have the stuff to become a major champion. After losing to Matt Kuchar in his title defense at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Hunter was in the chase all the way to the finish of the U.S. Open at Merion before finishing in a tie for fourth, the best of his five top-10 finishes in the Grand Slam event. Despite that, he will come into the 142nd Open Championship this week at little under the radar, so he might be a player to watch. ... Mahan will be making his ninth appearance in the third major of the year, with his best result a tie for sixth in 2007 at Carnoustie, where he played the weekend in 69-65 to wind up three shots behind winner Padraig Harrington. Last year, after missing the cut in three of the last four years in the Open, he played steady golf all the way and finished in a tie for 19th at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. ... Mahan started the final round at Merion last month one stroke behind 54-hole leader Phil Mickelson, and even though he did not record a birdie all day, he played classic U.S. Open golf with 13 pars in the first 14 holes and was tied for the lead. However, he found the heavy rough with his drive on the 15th hole, where he eventually missed a six-foot putt that gave him a double-bogey 6 and he fell further back with bogeys on the last two holes. However, his best result in the majors should fuel him with confidence at Muirfield.
16. Ernie Els, South Africa -- Els' final tuneup for his title defense in the Open Championship did not go as planned, as he was two and through, shooting 72-70 -- 142 to miss the cut by two strokes in the birdie-fest in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. Coming off his victory in the BMW International Open in Germany, he missed the weekend for the fourth time in 19 starts around the world this season. ... Ernie will making a rare double title defense this week at Muirfield, where he won in 2002 by turning back Steve Elkington, Thomas Levet and Stuart Appleby in a playoff to claim the Claret Jug for the first time. He won again last year at Royal Lytham and St. Annes, when Adam Scott opened the door by finishing with four consecutive bogeys and the Big Easy barged through to his fourth major title by holing a 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole. Els, who had missed the cut the two previous years in the Open Championship, also captured the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997. He is making his 23rd start in the third major of the year, and has finished in the top 10 a total of 13 times, including a playoff loss to Todd Hamilton in 2004 at Royal Troon. ... Els really didn't get going last week at Castle Stuart until his last nine holes, when he carded a bogey-free 3-under-par 33 while finishing on the front nine. He made three bogeys on the same stretch a day earlier and was fighting up uphill battle to make the cut from then on. He left claiming that he never figured out the greens, averaging 30.5 putts per round.
17. Bubba Watson, United States -- Bubba has not really played like a major champion in the Grand Slam events since his playoff victory over Louis Oosthuizen last year in the Masters, but he has too much talent to keep going this way. However, based on his history in the Open Championship, this week at Muirfield might not be the place to turn things around, unless he suddenly finds the key to playing links golf. ... Watson is playing in the oldest championship in the world for the fifth time and has not seemed comfortable on the classic seaside courses yet, although he has gotten better. After shooting 73-75 -- 148 to miss the cut by four strokes in 2009 at Turnberry and going the same route with 74-73 -- 147 to miss by one shot at St. Andrews in 2010, he has had his moments. Bubba opened with a 1-under-par 69 in 2011 and tied for 30th the first time he played all four rounds in the Open at Royal St. George's. Last year, he shot 3-under-par 67 in round one and shot 68 two days later en route to a tie for 23rd at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. He has all the shots, so there is no reason he can't contend and perhaps someday win the Open Championship. ... Watson has finished in the top 10 only three times in the majors, coming close to winning another title when he lost to Martin Kaymer of Germany in a playoff in the 2011 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. He also tied for fifth in the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont, and his best result in the Grand Slam events since winning at Augusta was a tie for 11th last year in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.
18. Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland -- G-Mac has thrust himself into the conversation heading into the 142nd Open Championship this week by claiming three victories around the world this year, trailing only Tiger Woods, who has four. The oddsmakers have him right behind Woods and Justin Rose, the U.S. Open champion, and Adam Scott, the Masters champion. He's virtually even with Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood. ... McDowell, who captured the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, will be making his 10th start in the oldest championship in the world and surprisingly did not post his first top-10 finish until he tied for fifth last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. He was tied for second, four strokes behind 54-hole leader Adam Scott, but like the Aussie he closed with a 5-over-par 75, which included four double bogeys in an ugly back nine of 42. His previous best finish in the Open was a tie for 11th in 2005 at St. Andrews, where he closed with a 5-under-par 67. He twice has been the first-round leader, with a 6-under-par 66 at Royal Liverpool in 2006, when he tied for 61st after a closing 79, and in 2008 at Royal Birkdale, where he started with a 1-under-par 69 but skidded to a tie for 19th by stumbling to a closing 80. ... It's feast or famine for McDowell, who has four top-10 finishes in the majors in recent years. This year, he has missed the cut in the Masters and the U.S. Open, after missing three times in 2011 and twice in 2010 in the Grand Slam events. But last year, he tied for 12th in the Masters, tied for second in the U.S. Open, tied for fifth in the Open championship and tied for 11th in the PGA Championship.
19. Jason Dufner, United States -- Following a career year at age 35 in 2012, when Duf claimed his first two PGA Tour victories in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and the HP Byron Nelson Championship, he has mostly struggled this season. However, he continues to show that he is a major player by displaying some of his best golf in the Grand Slam events, tying for 20th in the Masters and tying for fourth in the U.S. Open last month at Merion. ... Dufner arrived at Muirfield this week to play in the Open Championship for the fourth time. He missed the cut in his first two appearances, shooting 73-82 -- 155 to fall nine strokes short in 2010 at St. Andrews, and came back with 74-72 -- 146 to miss by three shots at Royal St. George's in 2011. Last year, he finally seemed to be getting the hang of links golf when he tied for 31st at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, opening with 70-66 to get into a tie for fourth, before playing the weekend in 73-74. ... Dufner played in only four major championships through 2009 and did not play in all four of the Grand Slam events in the same season until the next year, when he nearly pulled off a shocker. He held a five-stroke lead with three holes remaining in the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club, but carded three bogeys while Keegan Bradley rallied to tie with two birdies and then beat him in a three-hole playoff. Dufner also tied for fifth in the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits and tied four fourth in the U.S. Open last year at the Olympic Club.
20. Ian Poulter, England -- Coming off a 2012 season in which his inspiration was given credit for rallying the Europeans past the Americans in the Ryder Cup, big things were expected from Poulter this season. He also captured the WGC-HSBC Champions in China late last year and finished in the top 10 in three of the four major championships, so he was the favorite in some quarters to become the first Englishman to claim a Grand Slam title since Nick Faldo won the 1996 Masters. That honor went to Justin Rose at the U.S. Open last month, as Poulter this season has had his ups and downs, mostly the latter. ... Poults will tee it up in the Open Championship on Thursday at Muirfield for the 13th time, and he came closest to winning the oldest championship in the world in 2008 at Royal Birkdale. He closed with a 1-under-par 69, but wound up solo second, four shots behind Padraig Harrington and wishing he could have done better than a 75 in difficult conditions on Saturday. That's one of his two top-10 finishes in the tournament, the other coming when he tied for ninth last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, where he closed with a 3-under 67. ... That was one of those three top-10 finishes in the majors in 2012, as he also finished seventh in the Masters and tied for third in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, nine shots behind runaway winner Rory McIlroy. Poulter has been unable to recapture that magic this season, mostly because of his putter, so he took to Twitter last week to ask his fans to recommend new putters for him and he got plenty of suggestions. It will be interesting to see what he shows up with at Muirfield.
Others receiving consideration: Zach Johnson, United States; Jordan Spieth, United States; Charl Schwartzel, South Africa; Sergio Garcia, Spain; Jason Day, Australia; John Merrick, United States; Charles Howell III, United States; Martin Laird, Scotland; Angel Cabrera, Argentina; Kevin Streelman, United States; D.A. Points, United States; Billy Horschel, United States; Russell Henley, United States; David Lingmerth, Sweden; Sang-Moon Bae, South Korea; Boo Weekley, United States; Harris English, United States; Jonas Blixt, Sweden.