2011 Open Championship Predictions

The Open Championship is one of the most prestigious events of the year and it is arguably the major with the most heritage. The weather is notoriously tough and the good and bad breaks can be legendary. Heading into this wonderful event, we have some favorites that many are focusing on and some underdogs that could rise to the top. Will Rory continue his major play? Will Luke continue to show why he is #1 in the world? Will Westwood finally get that trophy? So many questions and in the end, only one answer.

With the third major of the year upon us, and so many ‘ifs’ as to who could win and why we decided to have our panel of ‘experts’ make their Open Championship predictions. THP asked each member of the staff 4 questions:

1. Who will win the 2011 Open Championship?
2. What name not thought of will make a splash in this event (darkhorse)?
3. Who finishes higher, Luke, Westwood or Rory?
4. Better or worse? Phil Mickelson finishing in 15th and why?

Here are the predictions from our “expert” panel. You can also discuss the Open Championship all week long in the tournament thread in the THP Forum.

1. I believe that Rory McIlroy wins the Open Championship. He put on an absolute clinic at the US Open and the monkey is officially off his back. He should’ve won this event last year and now he’s ready to prove that he’s a dominant force on Major venues. I don’t see him running away with this one, but he’s got confidence now, and that can help him win!

2. My darkhorse pick this Angel Cabrera. I know, he’s won a couple of Majors already, but I don’t think too many folks would expect El Gato to make much of a splash in the U.K. The guy can flat out pound a golf ball and he can score when he’s in a zone, which he appeared to be in, in Scotland this past weekend.

3. Well, I picked the young Lion to win so I have to stick with him here. Luke Donald is in great form but I don’t see him winning a Major. Lee Westwood is always a favorite of mine but I just don’t think he ever wins a Major, as much as it pains me to say it. I picked Rory because it seems like his destiny. He’s a superstar and what golf needs right now. Might as well be a young guy with his game and character.

4. Poor Phil. He just inevitably struggles with soggy, damp golf conditions. He’s a California boy who loves to work golf balls, fist bumps, and smiles in the sunshine. He finishes higher than 15th at the Open, and it pains me to say it. I just can’t go with him this week. I’m starting to become a realist when it comes to Phil. I wish him the best of luck though.

Todd H
1. Lee Westwood will win the 2011 British Open. He’s been playing pretty good golf since the Masters (especially overseas). I think this is the major that Westy finally snags. The American major-drought continues on, sadly.

2. Charles Howell III- Chucky Three Sticks has been playing some great golf the past 2 weeks (3rd place at AT&T National and T5 at the John Deere) so it looks like his game is peaking at the right time. His GIR’s and Scrambling percentages are above the PGA Average and of the 16 cuts he’s made this year (20 events entered) he has finished 3rd twice and has 5 Top 10’s this year. He also has 12 Top 25 finishes so he’s been quietly consistent this year for playing through the weekend of a tournament yet is only ranked 23rd in the FedEx Cup Standings.

3. Lee Westwood. Winning.

4. I think Phil misses the cut actually. His record and performance at the Open is terrible as he’s only had 1 Top 10 finish (2004 Troon) in his career so I’m not overly confident in Phil’s ability to finish in the Top 15 let alone make the cut.

Jason K
1. Lee Westwood is my pick to win it all. Westy hasn’t played bad golf in a long time but lately he hasn’t been setting the world ablaze with his scores either, that all changes at Royal St. George’s this week. You have to believe that he is all sorts of fired up after seeing 2 very young and very talented fellow European Ryder Cuppers win majors here recently. Westwood is due, he’s no Colin Montgomerie Lee will win some majors in his career and I think it starts this week.

2. Fredrik Jocobson might not jump off the page of favorites when you’re looking at the entrants but Freddy Joc has had a great season on Tour and I think he can draw on that recent experience of getting his first PGA Tour win into a push at his first major title as well. We know he’s not going to miss the cut, he’s been a cut making machine this year and winning the last tournament he tee’d it up in will leave him booming with confidence when he begins play at the Open Championship, a couple of weeks break from tour has him refreshed and ready. Freddy Joc, you’re 2011 Open Championship darkhorse!

3. Westwood finishes higher because I have him winning the whole thing so that was an obvious one for me. I’ll do you one better and give you order and the places they finish in, 1st place is Westy, I’m going to go ahead and put Luke Donald in for a top 10, and Rory will show the world that he’s still a young kid and has a lot to learn yet and he’ll come in around that 30th spot or so.

4. There’s just something about this event that has Mickelson’s number. I’m going to say he finishes worse than 15th, you don’t have to look any further than his results just last week at the Barclay’s Scottish Open, a links course golfer is not something you can use to describe Philly Mick. I’d like to see him win an Open sometime, US or British, I just don’t think it’s going to happen this week for The People’s Champ.

1. Picking the winner is always tough. Especially with the Open Championship because I often wonder if a Euro will have a ‘home field advantage’ of sorts. With that said my mind immediately jumps to three people; Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Graeme McDowell. I think Rory has a strong chance of getting his second major win, but I also wonder if the youngster will fold under the pressure of being a back to back major winner. McDowell just seems due for a big win. If Luke Donald hadn’t won last week I would say it could be him, but I don’t see him having a chance at back to back victories. I also feel strongly that Sergio is due for a win. He is fighting so hard this year but his putter continues to fail him. I am going to go bold here and say Sergio Garcia. I am still a little unsure about this pick, but all the stats and logic in the world still can’t predict who will win. So this week at the Open Championship, I expect to see Sergio Garcia hoisting the trophy on Sunday.

2. Picking a darkhorse is so hard! Many feel this person must be outside the top 30 in the world, but still have a shot of upsetting the field and getting the victory. With so much amazing talent out there this is truly an impossible decision. I have so many names running through my head but since I have to pick one, I am going to think way outside the box and pick a guy who has been struggling all year, but seems to have a good record at The Open Championship. My darkhorse pick is Henrik Stenson. I wanted to pick something radical here and since Stenson has generally finished strong at this tournament, but been less than effective this year, he is my pick. I hope I don’t regret making this pick public!

3. I think Rory McIlroy will finish the highest. I believe it will be Westwood after him and then Donald after that. Coming off the win last week, I think Donald will fall behind a bit during this tournament. I think Westwood will have a similar 4 rounds like he did for the US Open. So I think he will do quite well, but not as well as McIlroy and I do not think he will win it all. Since I do believe McIlroy has a chance to win this, I have to pick him to finish highest in the group.

4. Worse. I hate to say it because I really enjoy watching Phil play, especially when he is playing well, but I have zero confidence that he will finish stronger than 15th. The only way I see this happening is if he can finally get his putter to start working. His driver is been pretty bad too, but usually iron and wedge game is so strong that he can recover from an errant tee shot. However, when he can’t hit a drive or sink a putt then he is in some major trouble.

Ryan H
1. Rory McIlroy wins the Claret Jug this year. He has had some very low rounds in the Majors over the last year, and finally proved he could finish what he started at Congressional. I almost picked Jason Day as the winner, but I think that the lack of travel will give Rory an edge.

2. Seems weird to say his name, but Sergio Garcia. If he can makes some putts early, he should be around for the weekend.

3. Rory will finish higher than the others. I think Luke plays well, but not good enough for first. Westy used up his good fortune too early this year.

4. Worse. I don’t really see him being a factor. Nothing personal, Phil!

1. Sergio Garcia. He sheds the best to never win a major label. He’s playing well and finished T7 at the U.S. Open this year. Rory is going to push him all the way but will come up short in this one. McIlroy is the popular choice, but the last person to win two in a row, let alone two in a year was Harrington (who did win 2 in a row) in 2008. We’ve also had 11 different winners in the last 11 majors. I’m not from Missouri but still have the “Show Me” mentality.

2. I think Tom Watson making the cut would be considered making a splash. If it’s cold and windy most of the tournament, this guy has a chance for a top 25. Anyone know the forecast?

3. Gotta go with McIlroy. While I’d love for Rory to win, I don’t think it’s going to happen this time. As mentioned above, he’ll push Garcia but finish second or third. Westood should get another top 5 but I think his odds are better of wearing pants you can see his legs through than finishing better than McIlroy. Donald gets a top 25 but doesn’t contend on the weekend.

4. I think Phil has a better chance to miss the cut than to get a top 15 this week. His bet finish ever is third, and it is also his only top 10 finish. Take away an 11th in 2000 and a 19th in 2008, and his best finish is 22nd. His average finish is 41st, when he finishes, and he finished 48th last year. He has three missed cuts and two top 15’s in his career. For some reason, this event doesn’t work for Lefty.

1. This is really tough this year and so many names. It seems that most are expecting one of the big 3 to dazzle us and I just don’t expect that to happen. There are two names that keep popping up for me and that is Alvaro Quiros and Steve Stricker. I know Stricker just won last week in dramatic fashion and that usually leads to something awful, but the weather (good) could make this course play a little easier and nobody is putting better than Stricker right now. Without big gusts of wind, Quiros could wreak major havoc on this course, but in the end, I am going to say Stricker takes this in a great star filled leaderboard.

2. Since switching to the Odyssey putter about a month ago, ‘3 sticks’ has been on a tear. Top 10s and top 5s throughout and I think he continues that trend. A surgeon with his irons, he can play the links courses well at times and if the putter continues to be hot, I think he might be a contender early. Charles Howell III

3. Westwood and in my opinion it won’t be close. I think both of the other 2 struggle here a little bit and I believe Westwood will be in contention in the weekend play. He has all the tools outside of only playing 3 days in majors. This year he strings together a 4th day and plays some really good golf.

4. Not only do I think Phil will finish better than 15th, I think he gets a top 10 here and is a force in the weekend. With good weather, his short game can be dynamic in this type of setting and despite his struggles in the past, this year he is around and playing well on Sunday.

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