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Monday, July 14, 2014

The Open Championship - Power Ranking

As we continue our coverage leading up to the Open Championship, it's time to sort out some of the top contenders in this week's Power Ranking. Some of the names atop the list are the usual suspects, while other hot players have faded due to lack of experience or poor past history in links golf. As mentioned in yesterday's preview, event history probably matters as much or more here than it does in any other stop. Simply put, some players just can't handle the variables of links golf. 

Here we go:
  1. Adam Scott - This spot came down to two men, and the Aussie edged out Henrik Stenson. Scott has finished second and third in his last two Open Championships and finished eighth at this week's venue back in 2006. This marks his first start since a T9 at the U.S. Open. He's in complete control of both his game and his schedule. His ability to strike long irons off the tee and into the greens should prove to be a good thing.
  2. Henrik Stenson - The Swede is trendy, with a T7, 5th, T4 (U.S. Open), and T2 in his last four worldwide starts. He's also 7/9 with three top-three finishes in this championship. He finished 48th in the 2006 Open at Hoylake. Like Scott, I love his precision with the irons. 
  3. Justin Rose - While he's won his last two starts (Quicken Loans National and Scottish Open), be careful about going all in with him due to an average record in this event. His only top 10 came when he was an amateur back in 1998, so it's not a given that he will stand atop the leaderboard on Sunday. 
  4. Sergio Garcia - The Open Championship has arguably been Garcia's closest calls in the majors throughout the years, and the 2006 Open at Hoylake went for a fifth-place finish. He's made 13/17 cuts with six top 10s over the years, and tied for second at the Travelers Championship immediately after the U.S. Open. Can he post a high finish here? Absolutely. The problem with Sergio is that the answer is often between the ears. 
  5. Dustin Johnson - He loves links golf, which is half the battle. He's 4/5 with two top 10s including a runner-up in his relatively short Open career, and is entering what would be considered his prime in this event. His T4 at the U.S. Open shows he can focus when it counts.
  6. Martin Kaymer - Has a believable trend after winning the U.S. Open, missing the cut in his "hangover" start before sharing 12th in France. That's a sign that he's going through the proper emotions after the win and preparations leading up to another big one. He has a top 10 in this championship (7th in '10) and has only missed one of six cuts. It's hard to predict that a guy will go back-to-back in the majors, but there is a lot to like.
  7. Jim Furyk - He's 11/18 with four top-five finishes in the Open Championship including a fourth-place finish at Hoylake in 2006. He's been steady all of 2014, including a T12 at the U.S. Open in his last start. 
  8. Phil Mickelson - Anyone's guess, but his T11 at the Scottish Open is a great precursor to his trip to Hoylake as the defending champion. He cracked a top 25 at this venue in 2006 and has missed just four of 20 cuts in the Open. It's extremely likely that he'll be around for the weekend, but how far he goes is a fair question.
  9. Rickie Fowler - He's the answer to the trivia question as to who finished runner-up (T2) to Martin Kaymer at the 2014 U.S. Open, and he also tied for eighth in the Scottish Open last week. Add to that, he's 3/4 in the Open with a top five in 2011. While Fowler has been fairly inconsistent in 2014, he's proving to be a bit of a big-game player.
  10. Rory McIlroy - His only top 10 in the Open came at St. Andrews in 2010, which tends to be a bombers paradise. Seeing that Tiger Woods only hit driver once here when he won in 2006, McIlroy will have to rely on something other than bringing a course to its knees like he did at Congressional in 2010 and Kiawah Island in 2011. He tied for 14th in the Scottish Open and that feels like about where he will finish this week.
  11. Ian Poulter - Tough call, but have to give the nod to Poulter's tenacity in majors. He finished third last year. He pulled his game together for a respectable T17 at the U.S. Open, so he fills a nice value in this slot. That he missed the cut in Hoylake in 2006 complicates matters a bit. 
  12. Matt Kuchar - He's three out of four in this event with two top-15 finishes and tied for 12th at the U.S. Open. Slotting him somewhere between 10 and 15 is about right.
  13. Jordan Spieth - A tough kid to handicap, he has consistently proven that he can play his best golf on some of the biggest stages. He was 44th here last year and tied for 17th at the U.S. Open. Once again played well at TPC Deere Run with a T7 last week. 
  14. Angel Cabrera - I have this vision of him working 3-irons all over this course exactly as he intends and completing the third leg of the grand slam this week. Not only did he win at the Greenbrier in his last start, he preceded that with a pair of top 25s. He has two top 10s in the Open Championship, including a 7th at Hoylake and a T11 last year. Don't sleep on him.
  15. Keegan Bradley - Only played the Open twice, but his T15 last year showed steady progress. Has a couple of fourth-place finishes lately, including at the U.S. Open, and has his eye on making the Ryder Cup team. It shouldn't surprise anyone if he continues to show improvement in links golf.
  16. Brandt Snedeker - Finished 3rd and 11th in his last two Open Championships and seems to be coming back to life on the PGA TOUR with a T9 at the U.S .Open and a couple of other top 25s.
  17. Webb Simpson - Has been a bit feast-or-famine lately, but a couple of top-three finishes offer optimism. He's 2-for-2 in the Open, with a T16 in 2011. 
  18. Hideki Matsuyama - T6 in his Open debut last year and a recent PGA TOUR winner at Memorial.
  19. Ernie Els - He and Tom Watson are the reigning kings of links golf. Despite below-average form, he's a potential steal at 19.
  20. Graeme McDowell - Won in his last start leading up to this in France, but has just one top 10 in the Open.
  21. Zach Johnson - Offers back-to-back top 10s at the Open and snapped a recent dry spell with a runner-up at the John Deere.
  22. Mikko Ilonen - Finished 16th in both the Scottish Open and the 2006 Open at Hoylake, and has missed just one cut in five tries at the Open Championship. Recently won the Irish Open, which can't hurt.
  23. Danny Willett - A really nice dark-horse candidate, Willett is 1/2 with a T15 in last year's Open and enters off a T3-T8-T11 run with the T3 coming in the Irish Open and the T11 at the Scottish last week. 
  24. Luke Donald - Not as strong as one would think in the Open, making just six of 13 cuts, but he owns two top fives. Tied for 16th in the Scottish Open but missed cut at the U.S. Open. Plenty of mixed signals here.
  25. Tiger Woods - You don't need me to lay this one out for you.
We will return tomorrow with a look at one-and-done options.

Best of luck to all!

3 comments:

  1. Ryan, thanks as always for the informative updates. My OAD league has four weeks remaining and I currently sit just inside the money. Of the bigger names in this week's power ranking, I have Stenson, Sergio, Kaymer, Rory, Poulter, Keegan and Sneds remaining. My question for you (or anyone else) is: are there any names in that list that you are penciling in for any of the three tournaments following the British? Should I be saving anyone in particular with an eye on the RBC, Bridgestone or PGA? Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. In your situation, I would play Stenson and wouldn't think twice about it. With four tournaments left and hanging on to a spot in the money you don't want to hold anything back. Best of luck!

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