It’s the ultimate catch-22 in the sports world today.
Win either of the next two major golf championships, and the whispers will hang in the air about whether Tiger Woods would have won had he been there.
Fail to win — and we’re looking right at you, Mr. Mickelson — and, well, we’ll wonder if it will ever happen again for you.
Here are a few guys I think have as good a shot as anybody at capturing the British Open this week.
Jim Furyk He seems to be at the top of nearly everyone’s list as the American to beat this week at Royal Birkdale. He finished tied for fourth here a decade ago when the Open Championship was last played at Birkdale and has been something of a stalwart in majors over the last two-to-three years. ESPN writer Jason Sobel wrote this week that Furyk said last year that he was most looking forward to Royal Birkdale than any other major this year. Of course, Mickelson said the same thing about Torrey Pines.
Lee Westwood He’s gotten his game back in order and was pretty steady throughout all four days at the U.S. Open. He’s had eight top 10s on the European Tour this season and was a 20-footer on 18 away from playing on Monday for the U.S. Open. I think he’s the heavy favorite, and it will be interesting to see how he handles that role.
Sergio Garcia Again, it’s all about the putter. He’s still one of the best in the game from tee-to-green, but often struggles on the short stuff. But he had just 21 putts on Sunday at the Scottish Open last week. British Open means slower greens, and that may be all he needs. He gave it away last year.
Geoff Ogilvy I just think this guy’s a major competitor and will be there more often than not over the next five years or so. Maybe 10. He’s just a grinder.
Kenny Perry He’ll be tough to beat at the U.S Bank Championship in Milwaukee. How can you be playing the best golf of your life and not take a shot at both the U.S. Open and British Open? He’s making himself into the anti-Arnold Palmer. Show some respect to the freaking game. You’ve got the Ryder Cup team made already. Geesh.
Justin Rose Playing well, and he’s returning to where he burst onto the scene. He needs to hold it together for all 72 holes, though.
Andres Romero Big-time game. He’s a comer.
Ernie Els Either he’ll be right there or nowhere close. That’s just how his game is now.
Phil Mickelson Just bomb it and play, Phil, and see where you end up. Leave the 17 wedges at home. Lefty’s only played well in the Open once (3rd in 2004) and is usually an also-ran.
Stewart Cink If anybody should be helped by not having Tiger in the field to mess with his head, it’s Cink.
Stuart Appleby See Justin Rose. 72 holes, Stewy, 72 holes. You have to play on Sunday.
Brandt Snedeker OK, he won’t win, but he’s obviously won over Tom Watson. Snedeker, who played the first two rounds of the U.S. Open with his hero, played a practice round at Birkdale with the Open master on Wednesday. Who better for young Brandt to learn from than the guy who won five of these things?
So who will win the British Open? I guess I should make a pick before it starts.
One thing, with Woods out of the picture, I can go back to my theory of never picking the trendy choice. Tiger’s usually always that guy, and he makes it work. This week though, it’s Westwood and Furyk.
I’d love to see Garcia finally break through, even though he can be insufferable at times. I really think Ogilvy is going to be hanging around and could steal this thing.
So I’ll take him. Give me Geoff Ogilvy to win his second major title.
No doubt he’ll shoot 82 on Thursday and Some Guy we’ve never heard of will win.