British Open 2016: You should be rooting for these nine golfers at Royal Troon
Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Henrik Stenson are all easy stories at the Open
The British Open is here, and boy do we have some storylines. After two first-time major winners took the Masters and U.S. Open, might we see another at Royal Troon next week? Troon has often delivered strange winners, and we are tracking to have four first-time major winners for just the third time since 1970. That might be good news for the first three guys on this list.
These nine golfers are the ones you should be rooting for if you're an innocent bystander or neutral party and just want to enjoy some good golf. Obviously there are plenty of other stories to root for, but these nine represent the best stories with the most realistic chances of holding the Claret Jug.
Let's jump right in.
1. Sergio Garcia: There are more of us riding with Garcia than I can count at this point. It seems completely unfair that the man has 21 top-10 finishes at major championships and no wins while Todd Hamilton (who is the last golfer to win Troon) has two top-30 finishes but also has a Claret Jug. This would be a fitting place to rectify that.
2. Lee Westwood: Speaking of top-30 finishes.
This is another guy for whom a major championship would mean so much. Especially a British Open. Especially at this stage of his career. Nobody has come up short more often than these two players (both Garcia and Westwood have four top-five finishes at the Open). A playoff between them would be exhilarating and excruciating. And it's not that unlikely that either could win. Garcia finished T5 at Oakmont and Westwood T2 at Augusta.
3. Rickie Fowler: Fowler hasn't gone through the valleys those two have, but he could reasonably be called the best player in the world without a major championship now that Dustin Johnson has his. I've long thought his best shot was in the whipping, nasty weather across the pond. He has two top fives in his last five Opens to prove it. If you're lusting for an American dream to come true, this is the one to root for.
4. Jordan Spieth: To avenge last year and get within one tournament of the career Grand Slam. Spieth's star can jump ahead another galaxy and get closer to Planet McIlroy with a British Open victory. The "wait, let's look at his numbers against Tiger's again" talk would get turned up a lot.
5. Henrik Stenson: Yet another no-time major championship winner. The Big Swede doesn't quite have the heartbreak of the others, but he does have three top-threes here since 2008. It would be a delight to see him get off the mat and take home a jug.
6. Dustin Johnson: He could (should?) probably have at least one if not two of these already. Some of the allure of rooting for D.J. was erased with his U.S. Open win, but who isn't rooting for one of the best in the world to win three straight tournaments including two major championships?
7. Rory McIlroy: McIlroy can drive a real wedge between himself and the other players in the top four in the world (Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson) with a win here. We are too presumptive when it comes to winning major championships so it's easy to forget McIlroy has as many as the other three men combined. Another Jug here and he will have lapped them, at which point it will take an all-time career from one of the other four to surpass him. McIlroy might be cocky and eject from tournaments too easily, but his greatness is a fun one to root on.
Has as many majors as the other three combined. https://t.co/xg0z82T4XX— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) July 9, 2016
8. Adam Scott: Scott is an easy man to root for what with his geniality, buttery swing and righteous good looks. What makes it even easier is the way Scott gagged away the 2012 Open at Lytham. Redemption this year would taste so sweet.
9. Shane Lowry: Lowry makes it easy to like him with statements like this at Oakmont.
"I mean, let's be honest, I've already visualized myself winning," said Lowry. "Even out walking around the course this morning, when you get a few moments to yourself, you do think about that."
Lowry would not go on to win that U.S. Open (because Johnson would), but he's a passionate Irishman with a flair for dramatic wins. To see him get his first major in Europe would be sweet. Guinness stockholders would rejoice too.
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