The 2010 British Open Championship marks the return of competitive golf to St. Andrews, the much acclaimed home of golf. The last time the Open was at this historic golf course was in 2005-a tournament dominated by Tiger Woods and highlighted by the retirement of golfing great Jack Nicklaus. Five years later, a lot has happened in the world of competitive golf. Tiger’s reign as the number one player is fiercely contested by his old nemesis Phil Mickelson and a slew of young stars looking to establish a name for themselves. In this article, I will preview the 2010 British Open Championship and offer my humble predictions on which player will add his name onto this year’s Claret Jug.
Despite having to endure the worst year of his professional career, Tiger Woods remains a favorite to win the 2010 British Open Championship as his game is a perfect fit for St. Andrews links. In fact, Woods is 2 for 2 at this golf course having won the Open in 2000 and in 2005. Tiger’s biggest obstacle to this year’s title is his frustrated lack of form in driving length and accuracy–the keys to do well at St Andrews. Still, the number one player has shown that he remains a threat to win on courses that he has had previous successes; his strong performances at the Augusta National and Pebble Beach are good examples of this. If he could markedly improve upon his rusty swing, Tiger should be the odds-on favorite to win the championship.
One of Tiger’s chief rivals at the 2010 Open Championship is the newly crowned U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell. McDowell, a native of Northern Ireland, is a master of links golf. In point of fact, he won the Celtic Manor Wales Open by a record margin just prior to his victory at the Pebble Beach Golf Links. His success with links golf and the confidence gained from his emphatic U.S. Open win should make him a strong contender for the British Open title.
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Masters champion Phil Mickelson is another contender for the Open Championship. The British Open is one of two major titles Mickelson has never won. The reason is simple. The world’s number two does not play well in strong winds. Indeed, Mickelson only has one top 10 finish in 15 appearances at the Open; his average finish is well past 40th place. Based on his poor record playing links golf and mediocre form coming into the Open, it is a long shot that Mickelson would win his first Claret Jug this year.
Lee Westwood is the one player that we should keep a close eye on. The Englishman has been very close to winning each of the two contested majors this year. The British Open is actually his best shot at a major title. Westwood is enjoying terrific form, and is playing at home in most familiar conditions. If he could post four solid rounds at the Open, his chances of winning the championship are excellent. Other contenders for the British Open Championship include home-crowd favorites Rory McIlroy and Paul Casey, a resurgent Ernie Els, two-time winner Padraig Harrington, and the defending champion Steward Cink.
My predictions for 2010 British Open Championship: Lee Westwood fulfills his long-awaited promise and wins the Open for his first major title. The Open Championship starts Wednesday July 14 with an exhibition of former champions. First round is scheduled for Thursday July 15.