Thursday, July 14, 2016

Power rankings: The 145th British Open

The third major of the year is here, and it’s the British Open, the only major that’s played outside of the United States. The 145th Open returns to Royal Troon in Scotland for the first time since Todd Hamilton beat Ernie Els in a four-hole playoff for the Claret Jug in 2004. A lot of the players in this field have never seen Troon, so it’ll be new for many of them.

Zach Johnson is the defending champion, winning the title last year in a three-man playoff at St. Andrews. He’ll face a stern challenge in defending, particularly with how strong Dustin Johnson has played in recent weeks.

Here are our top five players for this week:

1. Dustin Johnson — Won two in a row and is playing the best golf of his life. His length will be an asset going out with the predominant trade winds and coming in against it. He has a surprisingly strong Open record.

2. Jason Day — Day is built for tough golf courses, and he found himself in contention late at the U.S. Open and at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

3. Adam Scott — If there’s a modern horse for the British Open, it’s Adam Scott. He’s a top-15 machine in this championship. He plays links golf well. He should have won one (2012) by now.

4. Jordan Spieth — A native Texan, Spieth makes a lot of sense in windy conditions. He was a shot out of the three-man playoff here last year.

5. Rory McIlroy — Normally, I run away from Rory McIlroy in potentially windy conditions, which is Troon’s primary defense for half the course (you pick the half). However, McIlroy took on tough conditions to win his first Irish Open earlier this year. If rain continues to soften the course, McIlroy is going to be a big fan of Troon.

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