Picking an Open winner
On the eve of the 138th Open, and with the phoney war coming to an end, we thought it might help to find out who the pundits are picking as the likely champion at Turnberry.
We canvassed a cross-section from the assembled media here in Ayrshire, asking for their idea of the winner and another player who will feature prominently this week.
Here's what they said:
Winner: It is hard to look past Tiger Woods. He has played pretty well this year.
Watch out for: Sean O'Hair and Hunter Mahan could have good weeks because they are good ball strikers. I would say Rory McIlroy as well because the force of youth is with him. He is at the age where he does not know how difficult the game is. He is wide eyed and everything is wonderful.
Peter Alliss - BBC golf commentator
Winner: Tiger Woods is the man to beat. He took eight months off, has won three times since coming back, has not been out of the top 10 and people are saying he's not as good as he was. Ridicluous.
Watch out for: The bookies always get it right. If you're having a bet for a bit of fun and are just risking a fiver, have a look for someone you fancy between about 25-1 to 60-1. There's usually a name in there that will give you a good run for your money. Adam Scott is showing a return to form and I like watching Geoff Ogilvy. He's very, very good.
But I'd really like a home winner, if not a European. There are a number of youngish British stars - Rory McIlory, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter - who talk a good game but Ross Fisher could be my dark horse. He will be somewhere around 40-1 and would be worth an each-way bet.
Winner: Tiger Woods is considerably the best player. It relies on him having straightened out his driver but the signs are that he has. If he hits it straight off the tee he will win.
Watch out for: Lee Westwood. He is a terrific driver of the ball and is bang on form. He lost in a play-off very unluckily two weeks ago and might even have won last week if he hadn't been dog sick in the first round.
Winner: Tiger Woods is the favourite and deservedly so. He won the last tournament he played. He got rained out at the US Open but still managed to finish in the top 10. He is the best golfer in the world. He plays very smart and has already figured out what he can do here. Tiger is the best putter there is in the game and if you can hole putts then you are in any tournament.
Watch out for: I like Ian Poulter. He played well in the Ryder Cup and was second at the Open last year. He is English but he plays in America, and he can handle anything. It is so tough on the local players here because the papers get on them but Poulter can handle it.
Ken Brown - BBC golf commentator
Winner: You can't look any further than Tiger Woods. I don't know how he does it but prior to the Memorial Tournament he was struggling to find the course off the tee. Suddenly that week, bang, he hits all the fairways on the final day and wins with ease. If Woods finds the fairway he can go around with his seven out of 10 game and is a very tough man to beat, unless he has one of those days of links golf or gets caught the wrong side of the draw when the wind is blowing an absolute hurricane.
Watch out for: How about Retief Goosen? He's suddenly found some form recently. He won in the US and is not frightened to win majors. He likes fast greens and doesn't worry about big breaking putts - and there are quite a few at Turnberry. If I was going to go for someone who might give you a run for your money, he would be in with a chance.
Winner: Anthony Kim. He is the most exciting American to emerge in a while. He played well at the Open last year and is great value.
Watch out for: Lee Westwood is in great form and played well to make the play off at the French Open. I watched him at the Scottish Open last week, he had a chest infection but he turned it around to finish in the top 10. This course will suit him and he will enjoy playing with Tiger.
Winner: It's completely unoriginal but it all points to Tiger Woods, especially if the wind doesn't blow.
Watch out for: If not Tiger, it could be a very big week for Lee Westwood. Everybody is saying what an important attribute driving is around here and he scores very highly on accuracy, which is crucial. The only question is just how many putts he can hole.
Winner: It's hard for me not to go with Tiger Woods. He is on form and this is a golf course that suits long hitters who can keep it on the fairway.
Watch out for: I think Rory McIlroy can finish in the top five because he is also a long hitter. If he can hit it straight he can make a lot of birdies. I also like Graeme McDowell - he is a good links player and so is Ian Poulter.
Winner: Apart from the obvious and saying Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk has the all round game and if he does get in the position to win, he will not bottle it. He gives it everything he can.
Watch out for: Sergio Garcia because he could do well if his putter works - I would be so happy for him if he did do it.
Andrew Cotter - BBC golf commentator
Winner: If Tiger Woods can drive like he did at Memorial that's kind of it for everyone else's chances.
Watch out for: Lee Westwood is a long, straight driver, though his Open record is not that great. But he was 10th, 15 miles up the road at Royal Troon in 1997 and 4th again at Troon in 2004 so he likes Ayrshire.
But I have put money on a player for the first time in a long time. He's got a decent each-way chance and I'd be very happy for a high finish for Ben Curtis. He had three hard years after he won in 2003 but since then he became a Ryder Cup player and has contended in other majors. He's very steady and straight off the tee and could feature.
Winner: Tiger Woods. His form is really sharp and is he is getting stronger. He has hit more fairways as the year has gone on. We are just starting to see flickers of the old Tiger.
Watch out for: Ian Poulter has shown a lot as well. He has played well at the big events and will have a lot of support. He shines in this atmosphere. I like his game.
Winner: Ian Poulter because he is a really good ball striker and has a good short game. If he gets his putter going then he will contend. He is a gritty competitor, he is desperate to win and likes the spotlight of a big tournament.
Watch out for: I like Hunter Mahan. Again, he is a very good ball striker and as well as that - he manages his game really well. He has a good Open record and is showing some good form. I do not see Poulter or Mahan getting ruffled by the weather.
Winner: I'll be boring and say Tiger Woods. He will reverse this year's trend of winning a tournament before a major but not going on to win that major.
Watch out for: Graeme McDowell. He has played links golf all his life and he has what it takes to win a major tournament.
Shane O'Donoghue - BBC golf reporter
Winner: Tiger Woods. He stands out with his extreme preparation and his ability to be conservative at just the right time to produce the desired result, which is a guaranteed par and a chance to get a birdie.
Watch out for: Soren Kjeldsen. He's in exemplary form, is striking the ball very well, can putt. He's one of those little guys who packs a big punch and is a really good each-way bet.
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