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Golf Barometer: British Open Picks

David Ferris

David Ferris

Ferris covers the PGA Tour for RotoWire. He is an award-winning sports writer and a veteran fantasy columnist. He also is a scratch golfer.

This week's Upgrades and Downgrades are directly tied to how I think the players will fare at the third major, the British Open.

UPGRADES


Padraig Harrington:
He has a strong chance if the weather is average, but if the winds and rains kick up, Harrington might become the biggest favorite of all. He has the resolve, patience and imagination to handle this type of environment perfectly.

Tiger Woods:
This could be the perfect time and place for him to get his Mojo back. He's won at the Old Course twice, and this is the type of track that will forgive some loose ball-striking if your mind is sharp and your short game is up to the task. I'll be surprised if Woods isn't in the Top 10 this week. Woods basically conceded a few weeks back that St. Andrews fits his game better than any other course.

Ian Poulter:
He doesn't have the most extensive record at this major but he did run second back in 2008, and his confidence has expanded significantly since then. Poulter's also a fantastic bad-weather player and a terrific putter under pressure. He'll be on your screen plenty this weekend.

Edoardo Molinari:
The decisive Scottish Open victory last week buys him a ton of cred, and while he doesn't have much experience in this event, he at least cashed in the last Open at St. Andrews, finishing T60 in 2005.

Graeme McDowell:
His consistent ball striking and his easygoing demeanor will serve him well, and even as he won the U.S. Open last month, he's not getting besieged by the media this week. Can McDowell sneak up on everyone and finish Top 15 or better? I'm calling for him do to just that.

Retief Goosen:
He's a horse for the course, no doubt on that - he hits the ball a mile and he's shown he can putt under pressure at the majors (his flat-stick mastery at Shinnecock in 2004 was the best I've ever seen in a U.S. Open). He ran fifth at the last British Open held at the Old Course, and he has seven Top 10s overall in this event.

Tom Watson:
No, he's not supposed to win or maybe even make the cut with the lengthening of the course. But Watson knows Open Championship golf as well as anyone, and he's playing with house money after his run here last year. Put him down for a Top 30 check, and doff your cap.

DOWNGRADES

Phil Mickelson:
He's got one career Top 10 in this major. One! To put that in perspective, he's been in the Top 10 at the Masters 13 times, and at the U.S. Open nine times.

Sergio Garcia:
He should have bagged a Claret Jug in the middle of the 2000s, when he finished in the Top 10 six times in a seven-year run. But since then he's got a T51 and a T38 on his resume, and his confidence has floated out the window. It's a shame to see this much talent go to waste on a yearly basis.

Angel Cabrera:
Generally I'd be stumping for him - he's got two majors in his pocket and nothing seems to rattle this guy. But he missed the cut the last two times we came to St. Andrews, and that's something we can't overlook.

HOLDING STEADY

Lee Westwood:
He'd probably be the decided favorite if not for a nagging ankle injury that's pushed him to the sideline in recent weeks. We know the ability is there, but how about the sharpness? And can Westwood do what's needed on a Sunday while he carries around the burden of having never won a major?

Justin Rose:
He should have won in Connecticut and he sandwiched two victories around that, so obviously he's in a good spot. But he didn't get any breaks when he landed in the Tiger Woods pairing for the opening two rounds.

So who wins? Put me down for Ian Poulter.

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