Open Championship Experts' Picks

July, 13, 2011
07/13/11
6:41
AM ET

Each week of the golf season, our experts will share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories below: Birdie Buster, Horse for the Course, Super Sleeper and Winner.

This week's tournament: The Open Championship at Royal St. George's in Sandwich, England.


ESPN.com golf writer Bob Harig

Horse for the Course: Luke Donald
Few in the field have much experience at Royal St. George's, but at least Donald has spent some time practicing here in recent weeks. And he's coming off that nice win at the Scottish Open, played on another links, Castle Stuart.

Birdie Buster: Steve Stricker
That was some finish at the John Deere Classic, Stricker winning the tournament for the third straight year by birdieing the final two holes to edge Kyle Stanley. Traveling overnight to the Open is not ideal, but he comes in off quite a high.

Super Sleeper: Davis Love III
The U.S. Ryder Cup team captain has quietly had a nice run of tournaments lately, including a good showing at the U.S. Open. Love tied for fourth at Royal St. George's eight years ago, missing a playoff by two strokes.

Winner: Lee Westwood
The Englishman keeps knocking on the door at major championships, and had another high finish at the U.S. Open -- although he was never in contention. If he's ever going to win one of the four majors, it's about time he does it. Now is the time.


ESPN.com senior golf editor Kevin Maguire

Horse for the Course: Ben Curtis
Always a tough category at a major (sans the Masters), but Curtis came to Royal St. George's in 2003 without having ever played links golf (or a major for that matter) and was clutching the Claret Jug come Sunday night.

Birdie Buster: Rory McIlroy
The reigning U.S. Open champ won't shoot 16 under here at Royal St. George's. Unless Mother Nature takes the week off -- which is unlikely. He's made the cut at the British Open three times already, which might not sound like much but, remember, he turned 22 in May.

Super Sleeper: Fredrik Jacobson
The Swede didn't realize his win recently at the Travelers Championship would likely get him into the field at the year's third major. But he was tied for sixth here at Royal St. George's back in 2003.

Winner: Jason Day
The past four major winners have been in their 20s. The past five weren't American. The 23-year-old Aussie fits both categories. Oh, and he has the best combined finishes of any player at the year's first two majors -- U.S. Open (second) and Masters (T-2.)


ESPN.com senior national columnist Gene Wojciechowski

Horse for Course: Luke Donald
Just won on a links course at the Scottish Open. Has gotten better on links courses in recent years. Short game creativity a plus here.

Birdie Buster: Dustin Johnson
Depending on how the winds blow, Dustin Johnson could bomb it down these rock-hard fairways. Could be a huge advantage this week.

Super Sleeper: Charles Howell III
Nobody getting lower than 100/1 odds counts. So I'll take Charles Howell III (150/1, according to the local betting parlor). Playing well lately.

Winner: Lee Westwood
Flip-a-coin time between Westy and Donald. One of these days Westwood is going to win a major. Why not at Royal St. George's?

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