July 17, 2012

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Players To Watch At The British Open

By: Joe Williams

Once again, it’s PGA major championship time. This week is the British Open which means die-hard golf fans will have to get up in the middle of the night if they want to watch the action live. I’m already tired just thinking about it. In case I forget to set my alarm or just keep hitting the snooze button, here are the guys I am interested in this week. Somebody keep me posted.

Could Ian Poulter win his first Major at the British Open?

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Ernie Els

Getting back to the winners circle has been a struggle for “The Big Easy.” Els hasn’t won since the 2010 South African Open. But he has been putting himself in contention lately and he finished in a tie for third the last time the Open Championship was held at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. The conditions are expected to be similar to 2002 when Els won at Muirfield and this is a course that bodes well for the biggest stars with seven of the nine winners being, like Els, a member of the hall of fame.

Tiger Woods

Tiger is always the guy to watch. He’s the betting favorite, but we don’t know which Tiger will show up. He leads the tour in wins this year with three and is at the top of the money list and FedEx Cup points list, but he hasn’t been “Tiger” in the majors and he missed the cut in his last start at the Greenbriar Classic.

Phil Mickelson

Speaking of guys who missed the cut at the Greenbriar…Lefty hasn’t played well since the beginning of the year. But he did throw down a 64 and 65 last week at the Scottish Open so maybe he’s rounding back into form. Phil doesn’t have many good finishes at the British Open, but he did tie for second last year at Royal St. George’s.  Maybe he has this style of play figured out.

Darren Clarke

He’s the defending champion. He tied for third here in 2001. But he hasn’t played well this year in just five starts. His best finish is a tie for 33rd.

Rory McIlroy

He was the No. 1 ranked player in the world earlier this year but has struggled since; missing the cut four times in his last six starts. But he’s still the new star in golf and has the game to win anytime he tees it up. He does have a major championship on his resume which isn’t a good sign if you go by the results of recent majors with the last 15 all being won by different players.

Zach Johnson

He won the John Deere Classic last week so he will have momentum on his side. But it will be an awfully quick turnaround to go across the Atlantic and adjust to the time change, weather and style of play on the other side of the pond. A win would put him at the top of the money list, FedEx Cup points list and give him a shot at player of the year.