The British Open starts Thursday at Royal Liverpool. Tiger Woods makes his return. But until Tiger shows he’s back to playing competitive golf, I can’t pick him to even contend. Here are my top 20 picks at Hoylake:
1. Jason Day, Australia: My favorite Aussie. I’ll keep picking him until he wins.
2. Thomas Bjorn, Denmark: The Great Dane is No. 1 on the European Tour money list.
3. Henrik Stenson, Sweden: In the last four majors, Stenson has tied for fourth (U.S. Open), tied for 14th (Masters), placed third (PGA) and placed second (British).
4. Louis Oosthuizen, South Africa: Oosthuizen actually is four inches taller than his countryman Gary Player. It just doesn’t seem like it.
5. Martin Kaymer, Germany: Had himself quite the British Open.
6. Justin Rose, England: Won the Scottish Open last weekend and won the PGA Tour stop at Congressional the week before that.
7. Rickie Fowler, U.S.: A pick purely with the heart. I’d love to see the Claret Jug with an orange background.
8. Ernie Els, South Africa: It always helps to know how to play.
9. Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland: Only one top-10 finish in the British. That drought can’t continue.
10. Adam Scott, Australia: A wonderful player; I’ll be glad when that long putter is gone.
11. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland: If you’ll excuse the Yogi Berraism, probably the world’s best player, he just doesn’t play like it often enough.
12. Angel Cabrera, Argentina: Manu Ginobili and the Argentine soccer squad have had a nice summer. Can Cabrera be far behind?
13. Francesco Molinari, Italy: I’m a little partial to the Italians, having just returned from the ancient land.
14. Matt Kuchar, U.S.: He certainly seems like a nice fellow.
15. Lee Westwood, England: At some point, Westwood will lose the distinction of world’s-greatest-player-without-a-major. He’ll either win his way out or lose his way out.
16. Phil Mickelson, U.S.: Seems like the defending champ, a guy with five majors, ought to be on the list.
17. Jonas Blixt, Sweden: The Swedes once were tennis phenoms. Maybe they’ll take over golf.
18. Miguel Angel Jimenez, Spain: If he wins a major, those funky back-loosening moves will be all the rage.
19. Sergio Garcia, Spain: I think we can safely say that it’s no longer safe to say that Garcia will eventually win a major.
20. Keegan Bradley, U.S.: Tied for fourth in the U.S. Open.