Posted: Wednesday July 13, 2005 11:21AM; Updated: Wednesday July 13, 2005 6:49PM
SI.com Experts' Picks
Here's how our golf gurus think things will shake out at St. Andrews
Rick Arnett, SI.com Golf Correspondent
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Who'll win?Tiger Woods. Hate to use the default pick, but Woods has a 1st and 2nd in the first two majors -- and that's without playing his best. St. Andrews suits his game, he's longer than ever, and he can escape from trouble better than anyone. However, he needs to start converting must-make putts.
Who'll contend?Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Retief Goosen, Sergio Garcia and Tim Clark. Els owns four top-5s in the last five British Opens -- and he's major hungry. Furyk is the hottest player on the planet but has missed the last four Open cuts. Goosen is the only golfer to finish top-10 in the last three Opens. If Garcia's putter behaves, he'll finish high on the leaderboard. Clark plays below the radar but South Africans do well in Opens -- and he won Barclay's Scottish Open last weekend.
Who'll surprise?Angel Cabrera and Mark Hensby. The Duck is long, streaky and tends to play well in majors. Hensby will surprise by adding to his consecutive top-10 streak for all three 2005 majors.
Who'll disappoint?Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh. Disappoint is a relative term, meaning Mick will make the cut but finish outside the top 10. Singh's ongoing nemesis is the flatstick -- he's ranked 126th in putts per round this year.
Jim Gorant, Sports Illustrated Golf Plus Editor
Who'll win?Tiger Woods. It feels too easy but St. Andrews sets up well for him since it allows him to be a little wild off the tee but rewards him for his creative short game. The extra length plays into his hands as well.
The usual suspects -- Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Retief Goosen -- should be there, but I also like Justin Leonard and Peter Lonard.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Vijay Singh win it, although most people seemingly would since no one's picking him. I also like Thomas Bjorn, who has been playing well lately. As for the crazy unknown winner the Open has seemed to produce the last few years, I like Charl Swartzel, the 21-year-old South African prodigy who's already won on the European tour.
I'm gonna say Sergio Garcia and Jim Furyk. Both are highly ranked guys who usually contend in majors and seem to make sense on paper, but I think there's too much pressure on Sergio to win in Europe, and I don't like Furyk's history at the Open, which includes three straight missed cuts.
Chris Lewis, SI.com Golf Correspondent
Who'll win?Tiger Woods. Even on the PGA Tour, it's hard to find someone to disagree. As one salty European caddie informed me some three months ago, "He'll win at St. Andrews. Anybody will tell you that, because there's no flair required around there -- he can hit it his 350 yards and it won't matter where it goes. Any other Open venue and he'd be dead."
The Oz Squad. Given the kinship between the Old and many courses down under, I find it strange that an Aussie hasn't won an Open at St. Andrews since Peter Thompson and Kel Nagle did it twice in six years (1955, 1960). If Tiger falters, that will change. Three to watch: Stuart Appleby, who's shown some signs after the perfunctory New Dad psychological hiatus; Geoff Ogilvy, who's finally coming into his own; and Peter Lonard, whose sometimes shaky putter won't be unduly pressured at St. Andrews. Nick O'Hern and Rod Pampling will also be in the mix.
Who'll surprise?Todd Hamilton and Ben Curtis. Both love this style of golf, and will be eager to demonstrate (above all to critics back home) how truly good they are at it.
Who'll disappoint?Michael Campbell, for obvious hangover-related reasons. And, though it pains me to say it, Ernie Els. This may be a career-defining Open for Els. No one in the field will be under more pressure, because only a win will convince the European press -- and maybe the American press, too -- that he hasn't taken a step backward.
Mike McAllister, SI.com Golf Editor
Who'll win?Tiger Woods. Nothing says "passing the baton" better than having the game's greatest golfer say goodbye while his would-be predecessor goes on to win the tournament. Unlike the last time St. Andrews hosted the British Open, Woods will find at least one bunker this week. And he won't win by eight shots. We'll say three.
With Padraig Harrington pulling out due to the death of his father, Darren Clarke becomes the British Isles player most likely to win it for the home team. Clarke is playing well and finished T-7 at St. Andrews in 2000.
Quietly, Mark Hensby has top-10 finishes in both majors this year -- a tie for fifth at Augusta and a tie for third at Pinehurst. (Tiger and Vijay are the only others who can say that this year.) Plus, Hensby is coming off a tie for fourth at the John Deere Classic. Let's see what he does in his first British Open.
Who'll disappoint?Phil Mickelson. I'm just not sure where his game is right now. Those great early-season performances seem so long ago. And until last year, Lefty had not played particularly well at the Open.