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Ranking the contenders for the 2014 British Open

By Kyle Porter | Golf Writer

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The 2014 British Open is teeming with storylines.

There's the obvious Tiger Woods return to major championship golf, Phil Mickelson trying to defend his British Open title, Justin Rose going for three wins in a row, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler going for major No. 1.

Oh, and Sergio Garcia just being Sergio Garcia.

It's going to be a grand week filled with tons of drama at a course that's scoreable. It's going to be fun, more than anything, and it's going to be star-studded.

Of those stars, though, who has the best chance of adding a Claret Jug to his collection of achievements? Vegas has its opinion but I have my own.

Here are the 20 golfers ranked from most likely to least likely to win the 2014 British Open (Vegas odds in parentheses).

1. Adam Scott (16-1): He's not being talked about much but he should be. Scott has emerged as one of the toughest outs in majors over the past few years and he has finished top three in the British Open the past two years.

2. Sergio Garcia (25-1): Garcia finished T5 here back in 2006 and has seven top 10s at this tournament since 2000. He's also a more consistent golfer than he has ever been. All of that means he'll probably lead by four at the turn on Sunday and lose by three.

Don't let me down, Sergio. (Getty Images)
Don't let me down, Sergio. (Getty Images)

3. Justin Rose (14-1): Stat of the year (besides Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods combining for zero top 10s) is that Justin Rose doesn't have a top 10 at this tournament as a professional. That's bonkers. It's hard to go against him after wins at Congressional and Royal Aberdeen but three in a row at a tournament where you haven't had success is too much to ask.

4. Rickie Fowler (33-1): I thought it was sort of a sneaky good move for him to play the Scottish Open last week at Royal Aberdeen. If you could bet on Fowler's first major coming at the British Open, I would do it.

5. Graeme McDowell (25-1): If McDowell wins another major I think it'll be this one. He's coming off a strong French Open win in which he came back from eight down on Sunday and he finished T5 two years ago at the British Open. No surprises if he wins this week.

6. Henrik Stenson (16-1): Finished second last year and actually has top-five finishes in three of his past five. He should be a force once again.

7. Rory McIlroy (14-1): If McIlroy can somehow sit out the second round, he should cruise. He has never been great at (or really liked) links golf so his top-20 finish at the Scottish Open is encouraging. I'm expecting a strong outing from the most talented golfer in the game.

8. Dustin Johnson (33-1): He has been in good form all year and McIlroy noted recently that all the par-5s are reachable in two. That's a built-in advantage for guys like DJ. We might need somebody (his caddie?) to carry him home, though. He hasn't exactly been a closer in majors.

9. Jason Day (33-1): The only major he doesn't have a top 10 at in the past two years (or ever, for that matter). Tremendous form, though, despite a missed cut at Congressional, and he's a big-game hunter.

Jason Day is still on a quest for his first major. (Getty Images)
Jason Day is still on a quest for his first major. (Getty Images)

10. Martin Kaymer (20-1): He has been going through that post-US Open hangover the past few outings and his performances of late at the Open haven't been top-notch (last top 10 came in 2010). Still, with the Players and US Open lingering, he has to be considered.

11. Phil Mickelson (20-1): I still don't know that I fully trust Lefty at the Open. That final round last year was pure magic but does he have that two years in a row? I'm dubious at best, though he played nicely at Royal Aberdeen. As with most things Mickleson-related, I have no clue what to expect.

12. Lee Westwood (40-1): I can't say I understand it but Westwood always seems to show up for the majors. He has finished top three in three of the past five years at this tournament! And wouldn't it be something if he could finally bring one home in his home country.

13. Hideki Matsuyama (50-1): That 50-1 number is a joke. Matsuyama won at Muirfield Village earlier this season and finished T6 at Muirfield (original) last year. He will be heard from.

14. Ian Poulter (50-1): Top 10s in the past two Opens and a second back in 2009. You know the masses will be underneath him trying to will one for the home country. I'm not sure he has the goods for a major, though.

15. Luke Donald (40-1): A run on the Englishmen! Donald has top fives in two of the past five Opens but he has also been cut twice (including last year). Maybe that just means he's due.

16. Jordan Spieth (33-1): He's Adam Scott Lite in that he's so tough to punch out. He just hangs around and hangs around and he's tougher than a $4 steak from one of the local Liverpool pubs.

17. Bubba Watson (40-1): I'm not enthralled with him at majors outside of Augusta but he hasn't missed a cut since 2005. If he can control the driver he can score big time and I think he's creative enough to make some interesting stuff happen. If it goes off the rails, though, it might really go off the rails.

What can we expect from Tiger Woods this week? (Getty Images)
What can we expect from Tiger Woods this week? (Getty Images)

18. Ernie Els (66-1): Els just knows how to get around these tracks. Third at this course in 2006 and top 10 in five of the past eight years, including a win. Can he throw it back one more time?

19. Tiger Woods (18-1): So he's going to come back from major back surgery and win the British Open against 100 of the best golfers on the planet in his third, fourth, fifth and sixth competitive rounds since March? Yeah, OK.

20. Tom Watson (500-1): A guy can dream, can't he?

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnGolf and @KylePorterCBS on Twitter or Google+ and like us on Facebook.

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