The last time The Open Championship was played at St. Andrews, Tiger Woods shot a record 19-under par. Look for Tiger to pick up where he left off in 2000.
It appears that Ernie Els is starting to find his game. After a disappointing playoff loss to Todd Hamilton in last year's Open, look for Ernie to dial it in and attempt to keep up with Tiger, at least through the halfway point.
Who'll surprise?Luke Donald and Darren Clarke will use their good play from the European Tour and keep their momentum going.
Who'll disappoint?Phil Mickelson has not cracked the top 25 in his last four starts. Is Lefty out in left field? Or is he going to remember the stroke that got him a third-place finish in last year's Open? I think he is over-analyzing his game with all of his coaches and all of this input will create indecision.
Gary Van Sickle, Sports Illustrated Senior Writer
Who'll win?Tiger Woods. He crushed the field like bugs the last time the Open was held at St. Andrews in 2000. He's not playing quite as well as he was then, but he's still the No. 1 player in the world. With his dominating length and bailout left on almost every hole, plus the fact that Tiger's got the best short game in golf and it appears his putting is coming around, he's as close to a lock as we can get.
Who'll contend?Ernie Els always plays well in the British Open. Even more important, he plays St. Andrews particularly well.
Who'll surprise?Jim Furyk. He hasn't played well in recent Opens. The reason? He used to hit shots with a rather flat trajectory but has improved and adjusted his swing over the years to better compete on the PGA Tour, which demands higher, softer shots. He has had trouble readjusting to playing lower, wind shots at the British, but he recognizes the problem and, frankly, is ticked off about it. Look for him to have a good week.
Who'll disappoint?Vijay Singh. He's been searching for a putting stroke all year and while he's been able to win a couple of tournaments, he easily could have won five or six if his putter was on. Look for the putter to continue to hold him back.
Scott Wraight, SI.com Associate Producer
Who'll win?Tiger Woods. Tiger's game appears to be running on all cylinders. Now that I'm finally convinced Tiger's swing is where it should be, he's going to run away from the field again this year, winning by at least four strokes.
Who'll contend?Ernie Els, David Toms and Davis Love III. If Tiger stumbles, Els will win. His game is in great shape. Toms missed the cut at the Masters, but showed some real tenacity with a 15th at the U.S. Open. DLIII hasn't played well this year, so this pick is pretty much a gut instinct. What makes Love promising is the way he played at Pinehurst for the U.S. Open, where he finished in a tie for 6th.
Who'll surprise?John Daly and Thomas Bjorn. The Daly pick was based on the course, as he won the '95 British Open at St. Andrews. It'll be a tale of two Johns -- Daly will either miss the cut or play very well. Bjorn's name always seems to appear near the top of British Open leaderboards. In nine Opens, Bjorn has five made cuts and four top 10s, including three in his last four years. Also keep an eye on Thomas Levet, who has finished in the top 25 in last three British Opens.
Who'll disappoint?Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen. I think Lefty puts too much pressure on himself entering a major -- and that will be the case again this week. Goosen has been hot and cold all year, and the British Open won't be an exception. Goosen will most likely manage one solid round, a couple of decent rounds and a subpar round. I think we're still trying to figure out what happened to the "unflappable" Goosen in the final round of the U.S. Open.