The 2012 British Open Championship begins on July 19 at Royal Lytham and St Annes. There are 17 former champions entered in the 2012 Open Championship. Some names, such as Tiger Woods and Tom Watson, are immediately recognizable. Others, like Paul Lawrie, may not be as familiar to American golf fans. Which of these former champs have the best chance to win the Open Championship in 2012?
Tom Watson's remarkable performance in 2009 notwithstanding, I will begin by paring my list down to those former champions under the age of 50. Next, let us also remove those players without a PGA Tour or European Tour win in the last five years. This leaves nine players.
The remaining former champions are: Darren Clarke, Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink, Padraig Harrington, Tiger Woods, Ben Curtis, Ernie Els, Paul Lawrie and Justin Leonard. Which of these men can you envision winning in 2012? I like Darren Clarke and his win last year was a fitting final triumph to a nice career. However, I think it would be too much to ask for Clarke to make it two in a row. As much as I like Ernie Els, I think that his major championships wins have already occurred. In the end I picked four players that in my mind have a chance of winning. Here they are in no particular order.
Louis Oosthuizen came from nowhere to win the 2010 British Open. It is conceivable that he could win again this year. We should remember that it was only a few months back that Oosthuizen was leading the final round of the Masters.
While I do not believe Tiger Woods will win the British Open in 2012, Woods is a three-time Open Champion and he has won three times on the PGA Tour in 2012. Woods has been up and down this year but it is certainly possible that he could win his fourth title this year at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
Cink is perhaps best known as the man who denied Tom Watson his sixth Claret Jug. In fact, Cink has not experienced much success in his career since winning the Open Championship in 2009. Yet he could capture lightening in a bottle once again.
When Harrington quickly won three major championships you thought there would be more to follow. However his career has cooled off quite a bit since. Nevertheless, if a past Open champion is to repeat Harrington would have to make the short list. In case you are wondering about recent performance, Harrington has finished in the Top Ten at both major championships in 2012.
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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