Nobody asked me, but ...

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - When somebody mentions the British Open, what's the first thing you think of?

Oh, that's easy.

Rain, wind, more rain and more wind, and learning all we ever wanted to know about Firths.

And when you think about rain, wind and cold, you think about the British Open at Muirfield in 2002.

Remember that gem?

It got so nasty in the third round that Tiger Woods lumped up an 81 for his worst score ever in a major.

It was great theater except the theater closed way too soon for many of us.

It was surreal to see Tiger struggling like he did - the storm kicked up just minutes before he got to the first tee - because it was just something that didn't happen.

But the thing is, we really didn't get to see it.

It was only 11 years ago, but 11 years ago the BBC still ran the cameras at the British Open and ABC just picked up the feed.

In other words, with Tiger out of contention, the overseas cameramen took their cameras off him.

We would get glimpses of him in a bunker or fighting with an umbrella, but that was about it.

These days, with ESPN's cameras now in place for the British Open, we get every move and every shot Tiger takes.

Yes, it can be quite nauseating watching and listening to the hosannas reigning down on him - especially since he's gone five years without a major win - but if the weather kicks up again, and he's struggling again at Muirfield, we'll get to see every inch of the agony.

So, with that little history lesson out of the way, let's try and answer the question of who will be raising the Claret Jug on Sunday afternoon.

The folks in Las Vegas insist on making Tiger the favorite in every major he enters which means one thing, he's not winning at Muirfield.

Tiger last won the British Open in 2006 (defending his title, by the way), but that was seven years and a lot of nicks and bruises ago.

He's also lost his mojo on the greens. It used to be, not long ago, that when Tiger needed a 15-foot putt, it was a shock when he missed.

Today, it's more of a shock when he makes them. And those misses (that used to be makes) add up quickly over four days.

OK, then, what about Phil Mickelson?

He fell apart at the U.S. Open in a loss that seemed to take so much out of him. But then, all he does is go over to Europe and win the Scottish Open in his tune up for the biggie.

What does that all mean? With Phil, it's always hard to say.

The crowds will be with him - they are wherever in the world he plays - and that will help. It will just come down to patience with him and how well he will handle zany conditions.

Ernie Els can handle the conditions, and he's the defending champ, so he can't be discounted.

Nor can Adam Scott, who won The Masters and nearly won the British Open last year before falling apart late. That won't happen to him again.

It says here that Rickie Fowler may finally break through. American golf needs him to do so and he's threatened at the British Open before.

And with his usual "rainbow of colors" clothing he'll fit right in. It's not quite Tiger in red on Sunday but Rickie in bright orange might be enough.

OK, OK, so who wins? It says here that Justin Rose makes it two straight majors. He hasn't done well at the British Open, aside from his amateur days way back when, but the confidence he gathered by winning the U.S. Open will carry him to the title.

Or maybe it will be Rory. ...

Original Document: 
xt.18726278-Golf_Leaderboard_XML
Display Section: 

Home Page Infinite Scroll Left