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Open Championship: 7 players you’re backing for Muirfield glory

by Sean Goff | July 17, 2013

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Sean Goff | Open Championship betting

It’s the third Major of the season and if  you’re not fazed by Ian Poulter’s dress sense or Lee Westwood’s putting than you’ll be all over the action from Muirfield.

Tiger Woods is back in action for the first time since finishing well down the field (32nd) at the US Open – but won’t have happy memories of his worst-ever score – an 81 here – back in 2002.

The World No1 is chasing his fourth Open Championship and 15th Major title. Although he heads the market at 10/1 fav he’s just outside the 7 biggest losers in the book at 12 noon on Wednesday. But that could change as his Thursday afternoon tee-off time gets closer.

Here are the 7 players you’re backing to make Paddy’s weekend rougher than Wayne Rooney on a night out.

1. Phil Mickelson 18/1

SANDMAN: Can Leftie win his 5th AT&T title? (pic:Getty)

SANDMAN:  Lefty’s chasing his first Open Championship win

It was always on the cards. Most people expected Lefty to coast around the Scottish Open to get his eye in for the main event this week. But despite a three-putt at the last forcing him into a play-off –  the multiple Major winner held his nerve to beat Branden Grace.

While the last three Open Championships winners have played in the Scottish Open (Els, Clarke and Oosthuizen) without threatening to win it – no Scottish Open winner has won the Open Championship this century.  Mickelson – who has six second place finished to his name in the US Open  – has been backed off the boards to break that stat at Muirfield.

2. Jason Day 35/1

Jason Day

DAYDREAMER:  Jason has proven form on the big stage

Establishing himself as a big-game player at the Augusta Masters – led by two strokes with four holes to play – before finishing third to Adam Scott. Followed that up with a US Open second to Justin Rose at Merion. Seems to save his best for the big stage but his Open Championship form is patchy. Missed this tournament last year as his wife was having a baby and was 60th at St Andrews the year before. If he takes to Muirfield he could justify punters’ support.

3. Lee Westwood 33/1

Lee Westwood:

WEST’S AWAKE : It’s now or never for Lee as he chases his first Major

Seven Top 10 finishes this year proves Westwood has lost none of his sparkle but a Major is still proving elusive. Was a rookie when making his debut at Muirfield in 2002 and was runner-up in 2010 to Louis Oozthuizen at St Andrew’s and third at Turnbury the year before. Seven Top 3 finishes in Major tournaments but would love to finish two places higher.  Can 2013 be the Englishman’s year?

4. Nicolas Colsaerts  70/1

Nicolas Colsaerts

CAN HE NIC’ IT: Colsaerts booms it off the tee

Punters have cottoned on to the Belgian bomber’s links form after he finished T7 behind Ernie Els at Royal Lytham last year. Finished T8 at Castle Stuart last weekend and the Ryder Cup rookie can take a lot of the fairway bunkers out of play with his long drives. Has spent most of the season on the US Tour and looks a fair price to improve on his  T10 at the US Open.

5. Branden Grace  60/1

Branden Grace

GRACE UNDER PRESSURE: Branden has proven form on Links courses

Became the first player to win four European Tour events in 2012 in what was a stellar season for the South African.  More importantly for the test that lies ahead – he broke the scoring record (-22) at the Dunhill Links Championship.

A play-off loss to Phil Mickelson last weekend at Castle Stuart means his links ability is unquestioned – but he has yet to shine at the Open Championship. Looks to emulate his compatriots Els and Oosthuizen and become the third South African to win the Open Championship in the last five years.

6. Martin Laird 100/1

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UNDER THE RADAR: Laird’s form has been solid all season

A Valero Texas Open win Stateside in April saw the journeyman Scot break into the millionaire’s club. Finished T5 at the Players Championship and T21 at the US Open so is holding his own at the top table against more fashionable rivals. Four sub-70 rounds in the Scottish Open saw him finish T5 and there’ll be worse – although more recognisable – 100/1 shots at Muirfield.

7. Luke Donald  33/1

Luke Donald

MAJOR AMBITION:  Donald won’t want to get left behind in the Major stakes

In danger of slipping into Westwood territory of ‘best player yet to win a Major’. The former World No1 is usually thereabouts and had his chance at Merion – but a final-day 75 sent him tumbling to finish T8 behind Justin Rose. Was fifth behind Els last season and occupied the same spot in 2009. A T42 at the Open de France means he’ll have to raise his game to become the first Englishman to lift the Claret Jug since Nick Faldo in 1992.

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