Obviously, we’re all coming into the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield with Tiger Woods as the odd-on favorite to win his 15th major championship. There’s a lot of talk about Phil Mickelson, and of course Us Open Champion, Justin Rose, but not many people are picking 2012 Open Champ, Ernie Els. Hello…Ernie is the defending champion this week, and although he hasn’t won a PGA Tournament since he backed into the Open last year, he did win a couple of weeks ago at The BMW Championship, and he did win the Open the last time it was played at Muirfield in 2002.
In 15 Open Championships that have been played at Muirfield, all but two winners are in the World Golf Hall of Fame. With names like Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, and that Harry Vardon guy. Of course, Ernie Els won here in 2002, but Tiger Woods has yet to win here.
I tend to agree with Jeff Ritter at Golf.com that Phil Mickelson has too many holes in his putting game to come home with a Claret Jug this weekend. Phil had the Scottish Open in the bag until he three putted the 18th green at Castle Stuart. He got a little bit lucky, not taking anything away from Branden Grace who is a great young talent on the European Tour, but he won’t be so lucky if he opens the door for some of the players in the field this week.
Matt Kuchar got tired of waiting for his ride to Muirfield on Tuesday morning, so he decided to stick his thumb out and catch a ride the old fashion way. Nobody is talking about The Kuch this week, but visions of what he did at Dove Mountain earlier in the year, you have give him a nod if the Scottish weather kicks up later in the weekend.
Rory McIlroy may enjoy a higher profile, but nobody better epitomizes Northern Ireland’s enduring love affair with links golf than Darren Clarke, the 2011 Open Champion, with whom I am about to play the 11th hole at Royal Portrush, his local club.
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