2018 British Open predictions, picks: One of these nine golfers will win at Carnoustie

An Open Championship is a grown-man's event. An Open Championship at Carnoustie takes the major to another level entirely.

The winning score in 1999 was 6 over, and eventual winner Paul Lawrie shot exactly one score better than 73 over the four rounds. The 2007 version of The Open was significantly easier (if you want to call it that), but still only five players were better than 5 under on the week.

So when I think about a golfer who I think can win this week, I'm thinking about tough, patient, good-weather golfers who can drive it both ways off the tee with long irons on to slick, lightning fast fairways. There aren't a ton of golfers who fit that description at a high level, but I have a list of nine from which I think the champion golfer of 2018 will come.

Rickie Fowler
I'm not going to pick Fowler (because I've picked him for each of the first two events), but he fits all the qualities I mentioned above. He's a tough player with a good short game who drives the ball well with his irons. Fowler has a ball flight built for Opens, and he's coming off a really strong week of links play at Gullane and the Scottish Open. Zero surprise if he wins Carnoustie.      
As confident as I feel about Fowler's trajectory, I feel the opposite about that of Spieth. What I'm banking on is his supernatural ability showing itself at the proper time for him to try and do what Brooks Koepka did at the U.S. Open, back up last year's major with another one. No young player is as mentally tough as Spieth, and that will serve him well at this specific track.  
Tommy Fleetwood
It seems inevitable and maybe even obvious that Fleetwood would win an Open at some point. He might hit more pure long irons than anyone alive, and he's going to feast on these tight, blazing fairways this week.  
Henrik Stenson
I did not have Stenson in my top 10 in terms of most likely to win because of an elbow injury that caused him to withdraw from the Scottish Open, but I'm pushing my chips to the middle of the table here. He has a lot going for him. Two straight top-11 finishes, a steely demeanor made for Opens and that whole "beware of the injured golfer" thing. I could see Stenson coming to the dais at the winner's press conference in a cast like LeBron James did after the NBA Finals before taking it off and throwing it at some poor media member as the whole center erupts.
Tiger Woods
I've been sucked back in! But seriously, Big Cat with a driving iron at what could be golf's toughest test? I could not be more in on seeing how his week plays out. I'm mentally prepared for pretty much anything from a missed cut to major No. 15, but I do think that as long as he gets the right side of the draw he'll have a real shot at a nasty course that doesn't demand you to hit driver too often. That shouldn't be said of U.S. Opens because of their length and quantity of rough, but The Open is a completely different animal.   
Sergio Garcia
I'm riding history here. Runner-up in a playoff in 2007 shouldn't trump the miserable stretch of golf he's played on the PGA Tour, but it does. Also, I can't quit the ball flight or his outrageous record at Opens in general (10 top 10s but no wins).
Brooks Koepka
The last golfer to win both Opens in the same year was Tiger Woods in 2000 at Pebble Beach and St. Andrews. Koepka could hold up a nearly-as-great Shinnecock-Carnoustie double against Tiger's.  
Marc Leishman
Speaking of ball flights ... this guy has them all, and he's going to be helped by the fact that players might be able to hit irons off the tees this week. Leishman has finished in the top six in three of the last four years at this event, and if the weather goes sideways, even better for him.
Justin Rose
Rose was terrific at last week's Scottish Open where he finished T9. I don't love his Open history, but I do love how seasoned he is at major championships. He won't get rattled when it starts to come undone, and he's one of the best ball-strikers alive. He or Fleetwood could end England's 25-year winless streak at Opens.  

So who will win the 2018 Open Championship, and what massive long shots will stun the golfing world? Visit SportsLine now to find out and see the full leaderboard from the model that nailed the Masters.  

CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

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