It should still be called the British Open here in America. We don’t drink “draught” beer. This is no “grey” area. This bastardization of the language (can the originators bastardize a language?) must cease here in the states.
Last year at the British Open on Sunday, Henrik Stenson played the finest round of golf ever. Full Stop. No man has ever played as well. It is certainly debatable but when you weigh all the evidence (shooting 63 in a final round of a major, playing against the iconic Phil Mickelson, dealing with the pressure of winning his first a major), it’s clear that no other round measures up.
So, the 146th British Open has a lot to live up to.
Royal Birkdale, the Open’s chosen course this year, is thought by many to be the greatest course in the Open rota. Rota is another British word that is only used when talking about the British Open.
One of these eight golfers will win the British Open …
Jon Rahm—This 22-year-old is a man possessed. He dominated the Irish Open, winning by six shots. It would be a shocker if he did not find himself in contention at Birkdale. He also marks his golf ball on the green with a huge poker chip, which is absurd. It’s something Myrtle Beach tourists would do on a golf trip, not top-tier pros. But all is forgiven when you hit the ball like Rahm.
Jordan Spieth—He sort of flies under the radar even with his spectacular win at the Travelers Championship. Spieth has not been hitting the ball all that well this year but with his short game and penchant for last-hole heroics, don’t be surprised to see young Jordan walking away with the Claret Jug.
Rickie Fowler—Without a doubt, the best player to have never won a major (BPTHNWAM). Rickie has come close numerous times at majors and, like Bum Phillips used to say about his Houston Oilers beating the dominant Pittsburgh Steelers, “Last year we knocked on that door, this year we beat on it, next year we’re gonna kick it in.” Maybe it’s Rickie’s time to kick in the door. Then again, the Oilers never beat the Steelers.
Tommy Fleetwood—True story: at the Players Championship I was talking to former professional golfer Graeme Whale and he mentioned that Fleetwood is considered the best ball striker in Europe. I disagreed vehemently saying it was Rory McIlroy and we got into a bit of a row (English word). No harm done though. That night at a bar who did I see but Tommy Fleetwood and his caddy. What are the odds? I mentioned that a lot of people in Europe think he’s the best ball striker. He nodded and agreed and I went after him by saying, “No way it’s McIlroy!” Well this didn’t go over very well with his crew and his tattooed, hooliganesque caddie bowed up and put me in my place. I slunked away chastened. Tommy Fleetwood and his crew won this round but I’ll be back. Fleetwood is very good and he’s playing in his home town. He will likely be in the mix come Sunday.
Justin Rose—Mr. Consistency should have won the Masters and has been preparing months for this championship. Rose can tend to be too much of a nice guy as evidenced at the Masters for being too happy for Sergio and not pissed at himself for giving it away. The Englishman needs to have an Open Championship on his resume if he wants to be considered one of the greats. Don’t be surprised if it happens this week.
Hideki Matsuyama—Another ball-striking phenom. People in the know say it’s just a matter of time before he wins multiple majors. I happen to be one of those people in the know so I know.
Paul Casey—This guy always comes up short in big moments but maybe playing in front of his countrymen will get him over the hump. Very solid all-around game that holds up in poor weather, which is expected this week.
Rory McIlroy—Rory comes into this tournament as cold as Bill and Hillary’s bed. He missed his last two cuts and seems a tad lost on the course. That said, he’s the most talented golfer on the planet, usually plays well in the British, and doesn’t feel the pressure of expectations. My prediction: He’s there at the end but falters down the stretch and loses to … Jordan Spieth.
The also-rans (good players who won’t win) …
Dustin Johnson—What have you done for me lately? He seems to content with his U.S. Open championship, all his money, and his smoking hot girlfriend. Speaking of Paulina Gretzky, how does the Great One allow DJ to get away with not marrying his daughter? You’re living a charmed life Mr. Johnson!
Sergio Garcia—Another happy, contented guy with lots of money, a major championship, and a hot girl on his arm. I’m sensing a pattern here.
Henrik Stenson—I don’t think he’s going to win because he doesn’t think he’s going to win. When he was asked if he could match Padraig Harrington in winning back-to-back titles at Royal Birkdale, the 41-year-old Swede said: “I think we’re hoping for a lot in terms of what we saw this week … you never know it might be the only time we’re defending champion at the Open, so might as well enjoy it.” Well you’ve sold me Henrik. I’m not picking you.
Phil Mickelson—The replacement of his caddy Jim “Bones” Mackay has been the most bizarre story of the golf season. Who fires their supposed best friend and caddy in the middle of the season? I want a tell-all book asap. Phil’s game and his mind are not right. No chance.
Dan Redmond covers golf for Breitbart and can be found on Twitter @danfromdc