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Feeling a Brit at Open Championship

There are oh so many storylines heading into this year's Open Championship.

Will Rory McIlroy continue his momentum after a dominating win in the U.S. Open? Will the streak of 11 straight different major champions be snapped? Will we have the first American to win a major since Phil Mickelson at the 2010 Masters?

But most importantly, will The Eliminator hit another winner?

You read that right, folks: After a handful of runner-up finishes, heartbreak and work late into the night, the Eliminator spit out McIlroy for the U.S. Open, and then watched the magic happen.

But we're hungry for more, and it's a good thing, since the British Open is upon us.

If you don't know how this works, don't worry, we are accepting late entries to the party. You see, 156 golfers will tee it up this week across the pond, but only one golfer will be victorious at week's end.

Everyone will be making a pick. Some will use statistics, some will go with a hunch, others might draw a name out of some sort of a hat, perhaps a beret or fez.

I, on the other hand, don't pick a winner, I pick losers. I'll use statistics, trends and prior history to tell you why 155 golfers just cannot win this weekend. By process of elimination (get it?), only one golfer will remain, and he must be the one to hoist the Claret Jug.

Let's get this show on the road.

First of all, dating back to 1976, only one of the 35 British Open winners has won in his first Open appearance, that was Ben Curtis in 2003. I look for that trend to continue, which takes 40 golfers out right off the bat.

Next, look for some prior success at the British Open. Thirty-one of those past 35 winners also had a previous top-25 finish at the Open Championship. That takes out another 42, and we're suddenly down to 74.

Parity has ruled lately in the majors. In fact, each of the past five major championships have been won by golfers who had never previously won a major championship. Let's take out the 29 remaining golfers who have a major win under their belts.

Next up, I like a little momentum heading into this tournament. Nine of the past 11 British Open winners made the cut in their last PGA Tour start. One-third of the remaining field gets eliminated; 15 gone, 30 left.

A sign of prior success on the Tour is also mandatory. Five of the last seven, and 21 of the last 25 Open Championship winners had a top-3 finish on the PGA Tour that season. Another 18 are gone, and we're down to the final dozen.

Look back to the top of this year's Masters leaderboard to get a taste for who might contend this week. Nine of the last 14 Open Championship winners finished in the top seven of that same year's Masters. Another 10 are gone, and we're down to two.

Let's finish this thing off. The last four, and six of the last eight British Open winners entered the event with five or fewer PGA Tour wins. That takes out Adam Scott, and leaves just one.

This weekend, look for the world's No. 1 to get career major No. 1. The Eliminator likes Luke Donald to win at Royal St. George's. Remember, the numbers don't lie.

The Eliminator: Step-by-Step:

1. Only one of the past 35 British Open winners won in their first start in the event.
(40 eliminated, 116 remaining)

Golfers eliminated
S.M. Bae
Lucas Bjerregaard
George Coetzee
Lee Corfield
Floris de Vries
Harrison Frazar
Robert Garrigus
Craig Hinton
Jung-Gon Hwang
Scott Jamieson
Andrew Johnston
Hiroo Kawai
Brad Kennedy
Jason Knutzon
Rick Kulacz
Mark Laskey
Tom Lewis
Simon Lilly
Joost Luiten
Bryden MacPherson
Martin Maritz
Richard McEvoy
Francis McGuirk
Prom Meesawat
Matthew Millar
Thorbjorn Olesen
Ryan Palmer
Neil Schietekat
Thomas Shadbolt
Webb Simpson
Andy Smith
Kyle Stanley
Kevin Streelman
Chris Tidland
Peter Uihlein
Peter Whiteford
Danny Willett
Mark Wilson
Gary Woodland
Adam Wootton

2. 31 of the past 35 British Open winners had a previous top-25 finish at the British Open.
(42 eliminated, 74 remaining)

Golfers eliminated
Fredrik Andersson Hed
Aaron Baddeley
Kurt Barnes
Gregory Bourdy
Gary Boyd
Alejandro Canizares
Nicolas Colsaerts
Rhys Davies
Jason Day
Jason Dufner
Simon Dyson
Simon Edwards
Kenneth Ferrie
Hiroyuki Fujita
Lucas Glover
Nathan Green
Bill Haas
Tetsuji Hiratsuka
Charley Hoffman
Charles Howell III
Yuta Ikeda
Ryo Ishikawa
Jerry Kelly
Simon Khan
K.T. Kim
Matt Kuchar
Martin Laird
Chih-Bing Lam
Pablo Larrazabal
Spencer Levin
Steve Marino
Prayad Marksaeng
Edoardo Molinari
Ryan Moore
Kevin Na
Seung-yul Noh
Rory Sabbatini
Brandt Snedeker
Graeme Storm
Bo Van Pelt
Bubba Watson
Y.E. Yang

3. The past five major winners were first-time major winners.
(28 eliminated, 46 remaining)

Golfers eliminated
Angel Cabrera
Mark Calcavecchia
Stewart Cink
Ben Curtis
John Daly
David Duval
Ernie Els
Jim Furyk
Retief Goosen
Todd Hamilton
Padraig Harrington
Trevor Immelman
Zach Johnson
Martin Kaymer
Bernhard Langer
Paul Lawrie
Tom Lehman
Justin Leonard
Davis Love III
Sandy Lyle
Graeme McDowell
Rory McIlroy
Phil Mickelson
Geoff Ogilvy
Mark O'Meara
Louis Oosthuizen
Charl Schwartzel
Tom Watson

4. Nine of the past 11 British Open winners made the cut in their last PGA Tour start.
(16 eliminated, 30 remaining)

Golfers eliminated
Thomas Aiken
Markus Brier
Jonathan Byrd
Paul Casey
Bob Estes
Ross Fisher
Stephen Gallacher
Anders Hansen
Raphael Jacquelin
Thongchai Jaidee
Miguel Angel Jimenez
Anthony Kim
Francesco Molinari
Sean O'Hair
Tadahiro Takayama
Camilo Villegas

5. Five of the past seven and 21 of the past 25 British Open winners had a PGA TOUR top-3 finish that same season.
(18 eliminated, 12 remaining)

Golfers eliminated
Robert Allenby
Thomas Bjorn
Chad Campbell
Darren Clarke
Ben Crane
Brian Davis
Rickie Fowler
Sergio Garcia
Richard Green
Peter Hanson
Gregory Havret
J.B. Holmes
Matteo Manassero
Alexander Noren
Ian Poulter
Alvaro Quiros
Robert Rock
Henrik Stenson

6. Nine of the past 14 British Open winners finished in the top seven in that year's Masters.
(10 eliminated, 2 remaining)

Golfers eliminated
K.J. Choi
Fredrik Jacobson
Dustin Johnson
Robert Karlsson
Hunter Mahan
Jeff Overton
Justin Rose
Steve Stricker
Nick Watney
Lee Westwood

7. The past four and six of the past eight British Open winners entered the event with five or fewer PGA Tour wins.
(1 eliminated, 1 remaining)

Golfer eliminated
Adam Scott

Your winner: Luke Donald


Matt Willis has been a production researcher with the ESPN Stats & Information group since 2006, working on "NASCAR Now" and "SportsCenter," among other shows. You can reach Matt at ESPNMattWillis@yahoo.com.