The homework is done. The practice is nearly complete. The course is ready. All that's left is to make the picks. The Open Championship is the hardest place for this because of just how many players its courses bring into play. When Matt Kuchar and Kevin Kisner are regularly contending in your event, I'm just not going to be able to accurately decipher a winner.
But that doesn't mean we're not going to try! I'll save my actual pick for later, but for now, here is a pool of nine golfers from which I think the 2019 Open Championship winner will come.
1. Brooks Koepka: He might be playing chess.
Been fascinated by the Major Brooks vs. Non-Major Brooks disparity: "I just practice before the majors. Regular tournaments, I don't practice."— Daniel Rapaport (@Daniel_Rapaport) July 16, 2019
Love the honesty—would love even more to see the faces at PGA Tour HQ in Ponte Vedra upon hearing this. SHOTS!pic.twitter.com/6jdCOoJNPd
2. Rory McIlroy: We've been over it ad nauseam. This Open runs through Rory. Four straight top-five finishes here. He's been the best in the world on the PGA Tour this season and one of the best on any tour over the last eight months.
SG total results. Slightly under the radar Open Champ picks: Patrick Cantlay (OWGR rank 10, SG rank 1) and Adam Scott (OWGR rank 16, rank 1 in SG in recent 8 weeks). Others in top 10 in SG & SG-rec: Rory, Rahm, Xander, Tiger, Simpson, Casey. Rank 1 (by a lot) last 3 Maj: Koepka. pic.twitter.com/t2P1vIwB4K— Mark Broadie (@MarkBroadie) July 15, 2019
3. Henrik Stenson: He's flying in the way he likes it: with no fanfare and no hype. The field should be wary, though. He's playing his best golf of the season and has been a demon at the last six Opens (three top 11s and a victory).
4. Patrick Cantlay: His ratio of how much we discuss him to how good his ball-striking is might be wider than anyone else in the sport. He's maybe not a mainstream pick, but there's a reason Las Vegas has him eighth in odds this week.
5. Xander Schauffele: I enjoyed this little tidbit from the tidbit king, Justin Ray.
Xander made his major championship debut at the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills. Since then, he has finished sixth or better in five of his 10 starts in majors. The only player with more top-six finishes in majors during that span is Koepka. Xander was tied for the 54-hole lead last year at Carnoustie, before a final round 74 left him in a tie for second.
6. Adam Scott: Mark Immelman pointed out on our podcast on Tuesday that I might be a little obsessed with Scott right now, and he might be right! He's having a truly unbelievable statistical year and has finished in the top 25 in seven of his last eight Opens. A forgotten superstar (at times) whose game travels all over the planet.
7. Matt Kuchar: I'd like him a little bit more on a more traditional Open Championship course, but when you combine his recent Open history with the year he's had, I think he's a legitimate threat to grab the first big one of his career.
8. Jon Rahm: I've been talked into it despite no real history at the Open. He wins everywhere and is feeling it at the moment following his victory at Lahinch a few weeks ago. I won't be fired up about him if the weather rolls in, but if it doesn't? He should crush.
9. Jordan Spieth: I get it, really I do. He's been lousy, and this course is penal on poor drivers (which he's been this year). But I have a strange feeling that it's going to click this week. Crazy? Maybe, but he was in the final pairing a year ago at this tournament. It didn't go so well, but he was still in the final pairing!
So who will win The Open Championship, and which long shots will stun the golfing world? Visit SportsLine now and see the projected Open leaderboard from the model that's nailed two straight golf majors to find out.