With Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson having won the first two majors of the year, the Americans will look to add a third to the list at the 2012 Open Championship, which is being played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. What follows are the top three players to watch when the event kicks off on Thursday.
Can Tiger Woods finally pull through and win a major this year? Tiger already has three wins on the year, with the most recent one being the AT&T National in late June, and he has two more chances to pick up number 15 before the year is over. Upon first glance of his stats for the year, it is hard to go against him finishing well this week, as he is solid from tee to green. However, as any casual golf fan knows about the Open Championship, bunkers rule the day, and in that category Tiger hasn't fared so well. His sand save percentage is 98th on the year, and when it comes to fairway bunkers Woods ranks 127th on the PGA Tour in green in regulations. The key to his success will be whether or not he can avoid the 200-plus bunkers that the course has to offer over four rounds, and while it is not out of the realm of possibility, I think his best shot at a major this year will be the PGA Championship.
After a hot start to the year Rory McIlroy has faded off a bit, missing the cut in three out of his last four events on the PGA Tour. A lot of it has to do with his driving accuracy, as he ranks 147th on Tour in the category. It just goes to show within the game of golf that it doesn't matter how far you hit the ball, if you can't hit it in the fairway it is difficult to shoot consistently low scores, and that is what has happened to Rory over the past few events. With the rough and bunkers that Royal Lytham & St. Annes has to offer, I don't like McIlroy's chances this week, but I would expect for him to at least make the cut.
Last but not least there is Phil Mickelson, who has had a similar stretch to Rory this year by starting off on a fast pace and then slowing down later on, missing the cut in his last event played at the Greenbrier Classic. Again, the same problems arise with Phil as they do with Rory, in that he also is not very good when it comes to driving accuracy. However, two things going for him is that he ranks first on Tour in scrambling and is also really good out of both fairway and greenside bunkers, so he can more than handle this week's golf course. If Phil can stay out of the rough off the tee and post a good round on Thursday, I would like his chances to win going into Sunday.
Ryan Kekoufski is a scratch golfer who has both played and watched the sport for well over a decade.
- Sports & Recreation
- Tiger Woods
- Rory McIlroy
- Bubba Watson
- Webb Simpson