Tiger Woods may be the favorite to win the 141st Open Championship, but there are 155 other golfers who will be trying to stop him. Four members of the 2012 PGA Rookie class are in the field, July 19-22, at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in Lancashire, England. This is a brief review of each of the rookies.
At 22 years of age, John Huh exploded onto the PGA Tour with two top 12 finishes in his first three events. On February 26, 2012, in only his fifth career start, he hoisted the winner's trophy at the Mayakoba Golf Classic after an epic eight hole playoff with Robert Allenby. He has posted two more top five finishes and is currently 17th in the FedEx standings.
John Huh's greatest strength is his driving accuracy, in which he is ranked seventh on Tour. This may serve him very well at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, a course with more than 200 bunkers ready to swallow errant shots.
Ted Potter Jr.:
A 29-year-old native of Ocala, Florida, Ted Potter Jr. has been a professional golfer since 2002, but never qualified for the PGA Tour until 2012. He found early success to be elusive on Tour, making only six cuts in his first 15 events. His life changed at the Greenbrier Classic, where on Sunday, July 8th, he claimed victory. Like Huh before him, Potter also won his title in a playoff.
In winning the recent Greenbrier Classic, Ted Potter Jr. ranked in the top three in driving accuracy, sand saves, and putting. A repeat performance is needed for him to be a contender in the British Open.
Sang-Moon Bae is the only one of our four rookies to have played in a prior British Open. The 26-year-old South Korean missed the cut in 2011, after scores of 72 and 76 in the first two rounds. A professional since 2004, with 11 international victories, he is the highest ranked of our rookies at #42 in the official world golf rankings.
Bae finished second in a playoff at the Transitions Championship in March 2012, but otherwise has struggled in his rookie season on the PGA Tour. His one advantage over the other rookies may be that he has experienced the Open before, albeit a missed cut.
Harris English is a 22-year-old who turned pro after graduating from the University of Georgia in 2011 and was projected to have a bright future on the PGA Tour. Successfully making 15 cuts in 19 events, with two top ten finishes and more than $800,000 in earnings, he has not disappointed. One of the longest hitters on Tour, averaging 299 yards off the tee, he is one of those players who can fly his ball beyond the hazards on many golf courses.
The bunkers at Royal Lytham & St. Annes will be there, no matter far you hit the ball. To be successful in the 2012 British Open, Harris English may need to fight against his normal power game and go with a smaller, more accurate choice of clubs for his drives.
Harold Andrews has played golf (competitively and recreationally) for nearly 50 years. He considers Jack Nicklaus the greatest golfer of all time.
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