posted on July 16, 2013 00:00
It’s been a good major championship season so far, with Adam Scott and Justin Rose shedding the dreaded tag of being among the best players in the world yet to win a major. If this trend holds, there are several guys who are hoping to follow suit at Muirfield. In addition, Muirfield, since 1959, has produced nothing but Hall of Fame champions: Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo (twice), and Ernie Els. Within these parameters, let’s take a look at some guys who will be popular picks this week.
All betting odds are compliments of Bovada.
First Time Potential:
Luke Donald (28/1) – A former #1 in the world, the Englishman Donald would be a popular champion. While many believe it’s only a matter of time until he breaks through in a major, I’m not so sure. While he does have eight top 10 finishes in majors, he’s never really been right there at the finish. There are worse ways to spend a few bucks at these odds, but if he ends up being the Colin Montgomerie of this generation (a cash earning machine with a stellar Ryder Cup record) it wouldn’t be a huge shock.
Jason Day (33/1) – With four top three finishes’ in majors since the start of 2011, I believe the Australian will be at the top of the leader board sooner rather than later. However, those strong showings have come on this side of the pond, at Augusta and the U.S. Open. His game seems to be a better fit for the long, punishing American majors. He remains a good bet at every major for the foreseeable future though.
Dustin Johnson (40/1) – Now we’re getting somewhere; crazy long and super athletic plays anywhere. Among his seven PGA Tour wins are two victories at Pebble Beach, a regular major championship stop. Those seven wins at 28 make him a nice early HOF candidate. A T-2 at The Open Championship in 2011 shows that he might not suffer from the typical American issues in Europe. If the conditions stay hard and fast, he can be on a fairway wood or long iron off the tee and still overpower the course. Much like a modern day Mickelson, it’s happening sometime, and it’s going to happen more than once. I won’t be surprised if it’s this week.
Lee Westwood (25/1) – Lee is 40, and should probably be at the top of the best player to never win a major list. I got him at 18/1 months ago for this tournament. Much like his buddy Darren Clarke, I think he’s going to break through at some point, and there’s a good chance it’s at this tournament. Unfortunately for me and anyone else who laid some cash on him, it’s not going to be this year. I thought his relocation to Florida would boost his major championship chances, and it will in the long run. I once had a several year adjustment period moving 18 miles across the river to the city; I may have underestimated the toll the move across the Atlantic would take on a fellow. Soon, but not now.
The HOF Crowd:
Rory McIlroy (25/1) – Who knows? He might go blitz the field. He might go 78-78 and be on the airplane Friday afternoon. Would either result surprise you at this point? He’s a good investment though, because 25/1 would have been unthinkable six months ago.
Graeme McDowell (22/1) – Currently ranked 7th in the world, with three worldwide victories this year and a good major track record, Graeme has become a consistent threat at the major championships. Placing McDowell in the HOF crowd might be a bit presumptuous, but his track record at 33 years old is trending that direction. His Open Championship record doesn’t scream likely contender, but riding the hot hand isn’t the worst play.
Phil Mickelson (16/1) – Lefty just won the Scottish Open, his first win in Europe in 20 years. At 43 years old, Phil has tailored his schedule to peak four times a year. A player his age used to be on his last leg, but Lefty is going to be an exception to the rule. He still hits it a mile, and will continue to. He has a sense of history, and desperately wants to complete the career grand slam. Muirfield has a track record of historic champions. Phil is going to be in the mix on Sunday.
Tiger Woods (8/1) – I keep beating the Tiger drum. Coming off an injury that hindered him at the U.S. Open, he might even be flying under the radar. Look at the names that have won at Muirfield. Faldo, Watson, Nicklaus and Player are four of the ten best players ever. The guy wins at places like this: Augusta, Pebble Beach, St. Andrews. In 2006, he won an Open Championship while barely hitting driver on a hard and fast course. Muirfield is shaping up that way this year. There is a real argument to be made that this major suits his game the best; creativity and shot making are at a premium. If the weather kicks up, it will be a total crapshoot, and will bring most of the field into play. If not, major number 15 is upon us.
On a final note, a follow-up from the media column: Fox needs to get a piece of golf. Twenty years ago, Fox made a bold move and bought a piece of the NFL. They recently purchased the future rights to soccer’s World Cup, with Gus Johnson as the likely voice of the world’s largest sporting event. It’s time for Fox to continue to be bold, and get our town’s Joe Buck, friend of insideSTL and the most accomplished play-by-play announcer of his time, a chance at calling this sport.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.