WORLD RANK: 2nd
WORLDWIDE WINS: 30
Even if Phil had
won the U.S. Open, as he should have, the Mickelslam would've been a tall
order. Honestly, links golf simply isn't him. He plays the game far too much in
the air. He epitomizes American tour golf: He's all about carry and spin. Two
of his specialties, flop shots and 64-degree sand wedges, are weapons you don't
need at the British. He never plays bump-and-runs; his pitches are all flop
shots. He'd never consider putting from 30 yards off the green, either, a
standard links play. Plus, the brutal British press will undoubtedly keep
reminding him about his massacre at Winged Foot. He's not going to live that
one down for a while. I don't think Phil putts his best on slow greens,
ROYAL TEE: Nothing
about Phil shouts British Open champion, especially that tent shot at Winged
Foot, but you can't overlook two wins and a second in the last three
7 LUKE DONALD
WORLD RANK: 12th
WORLDWIDE WINS: 4
I was all set to
make Luke the tournament favorite, until I checked his Open track record. He
missed the cut five years in a row and then was 52nd last year at St. Andrews.
Wow! The guy plays way too well to have a record that bad. He drives it
wonderfully, is a good iron player and has a strong short game. He fits the
profile of the Champion Golfer of the Year. His problem has to be partly
psychological. Maybe he's trying too hard to do well on his home turf. Or maybe
his game has gotten too Americanized as he's played college golf in the U.S.
and competed on our Tour. He's been playing well of late--12th at the U.S.
Open, a win at the Honda--and he's fourth in scoring average.
ROYAL TEE: If he
can get past the pressure of winning the claret jug in his home country, this
will be the year he shows his Open worthiness.
6 JOSE MARIA
WORLD RANK: 14th
WORLDWIDE WINS: 29
You'll probably be
as shocked as I was to discover what a renaissance Jos� Mar�a is enjoying. He
was second in Atlanta, lost a playoff to Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines, was third
at the Masters and seventh at the Players Championship. How did we not notice?
His work with Butch Harmon is clearly paying off. Wild drives have been his
Achilles' heel, although you don't have to drive it that well on the spacious
fairways of Torrey Pines or Augusta. Jos�'s short game is among the five best
in the world. His putting has been sketchy and he's an old 40, if you know what
I mean, but if you needed one guy to get up and down to win the Ryder Cup, I'd