Open Championship - The Magnificent Seven
Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements
Which McIlroy will turn up? If it's the one who has three great rounds and another that's best forgotten, then his chances are best forgotten. If, on the other hand, it's the McIlroy who won the BMW PGA championship in May then the others had better watch out. There are two keys to his challenge - if he drives and is able to put the ball in the right places and if he putts well, everybody else might as well remain at home
Has yet to better his tied fourth in The Open, achieved as a 17-year-old amateur at Birkdale. It is one of golf's conundrums that he hasn't contended in this event since turning professional. He has won the US Open and given it a good go in both The Masters and the USPGA, but his time must surely come in The Open. Played magnificently at Congressional to win the quaintly-titled Quicken Loans National and will arrive at Hoylake full of confidence
Bradley may well be the most infuriating golfer on the planet but you just can't get away from the fact that he is also one of the best. With a US PGA title to his credit, it seems that the bigger the occasion, the better he plays. Possesses a magnificent all-round game and enjoys playing in the wind. If you plan to watch him, however, get ready for a long day
Looking for an each-way bet? Stenson is your man. He has been in magnificent form for more than a year, and should have won The Open at Muirfield last year. A winner of the Fedex Cup playoffs and Race to Dubai, the only thing missing from his CV is a major. Stenson doesn't mind what sort of course he plays, and is equally adept in calm and windy weather. Something that is often overlooked when talking about his strengths is his putting stroke. When he gets on a roll, he holes everything
How can you ignore the young man? Well, you can't. So we won't. He contends every single time he tees it up and was properly annoyed with himself for failing to win The Masters in April - at his first attempt, aged 20. That tells you everything you need to know about this remarkable golfer. It has been forgotten by a lot of people then he was briefly in contention at Muirfield 12 months ago, so he knows how to play links golf. Spieth has no weaknesses
You may think that Streelman is on this list because of his extraordinary performance in winning the Travelers championship, where he raced through the field by finishing with seven straight birdies. That is only a small part of it. Not used to links golf, he quietly went about his business at Muirfield last year, easily making the cut and learning how to play what is a very different game. He is a magnificent iron player and has a great short game
Fleetwood learnt to play golf on the links courses around Southport, and has proved to himself that he can win. He has a low ball flight, will have a massive local support (Southport is just across the bay from Hoylake) and could spring a huge surprise. He is a Ryder Cup player of the future, and a good finish here could see him make Paul McGinley's team for Gleneagles
AND YOU CAN'T TAKE YOUR EYES OFF....
Hasn't added to his major tally for six years, and has missed almost all of this season after having back surgery. He finally returned at Congressional, where he missed the cut but said he was pain-free and happy with his game and felt no need to play more tournament golf before The Open. It is hardly ideal preparation, but Woods is a one-off. Who knows how he will perform at Hoylake? One thing is for sure, though - the 14-time major champion will once again be the centre of attention
Derek Clements is a sports journalist with a particular passion for golf with over 12 years of experience covering golf and other sports including Chief Sub-Editor on the sports desk of The Sunday Times. To contact Derek email direct via [email protected]
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