2012 Open golf preview
The 2012 Open starts at Royal Lytham & St Annes on July 19th. We look at the main men with a shot at winning the third major of the season.
What are his chances? Six months ago, some were writing Woods off but he has bounced back to silence his critics with three tournament wins this year. He starts as the Open favourite and once again looks the man to beat.
His 2012 to date: Woods has claimed a hat-trick of victories on the PGA Tour, most recently at the AT&T National earlier this month which was his 74th career win. That moved him one in front of Jack Nicklaus and second on the all-time list behind Sam Snead.
What are his chances? A leg injury has hampered Westwood's preparations but he insists the complaint is now a thing of the past and that he fully expects to battle it out at the top of the leaderboard as he bids to end his barren run in the majors.
His 2012 to date: Westwood has mixed it up on the European, Asian and PGA tours and played well in all three. He boasts five top-10s out of his eight appearances on the European Tour and has victories from the Nordea Masters and the Indonesian Masters.
What are his chances? Well, to be frank it depends which McIlroy turns up on the first tee on day one. If it's the McIlroy that was briefly world No.1 and heralded as the current best exponent of the game then he'll be fine. But too often this season there have been inconsistent performances at various events.
His 2012 to date: He has been blowing rather too hot and cold to be seemingly capable of stringing together four consistent rounds of golf this week. Saying that, he boasts an impressive win at the Honda Classic in March and showed signs of better form at the recent Irish Open.
What are his chances? It's difficult to know exactly. He should fare well on the course but the problem is that he's rarely shone at the Open, his only performance of note being fifth in 2009. His game seems better suited to American courses but he has the iron play to star.
His 2012 to date: Donald has been flipping in and out of the No.1 spot, losing it with a WGC Accenture Match Play slump before wrestling it back with a Transitions Championship win in March. He followed that up by bagging the BMW PGA title and remains at the top of the world rankings.
What are his chances? His odds are tempting bearing in mind how well he's been playing this season and the fact that, if anyone has listened to him, he believes a fourth major win is on the cards in the ensuing days.
His 2012 to date: Very few players have been more consistent in the majors following his eighth place at the Masters and an even more impressive run to fourth at the US Open. He's now bidding for his third Open crown after previously triumphing at at Carnoustie and Birkdale.
What are his chances? If there is one player that was born for the courses which host the Open Championship each year then it is Garcia, one of the great iron players in world golf. Seven times he has finished the tournament in the top 10 and once - in 2007 - as runner-up.
His 2012 to date: Unlike last season, there have been no big tournament wins for the Spaniard but he will not be particularly fazed as he has been there or thereabouts. His majors form is decent following a Masters finish of 12th and 38th at the US Open.
What are his chances? The usually ever-reliable game of Mickelson has slightly gone to pot of late to the extent that he failed to get under par for seven consecutive rounds recently. Mickelson, though, is one for peaking at the big events so can't be discounted but his record at the Open isn't great - he boasts two top-10 finishes although one was second last year.
His 2012 to date: It's been a mixed season for Mickelson. At times, his driving and putting have both been truly wayward but, true to form, his short game remains among the best in the world. But there has still been a title: the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and a third spot at the Masters.
What are his chances? Rose's love affair with the Open began in 1998 when he finished fourth while still an amateur. He's not got close to that result since but his game ought to be well suited to the course.
His 2012 to date: He has gone about his business solidly if at times unspectacularly, although has a big win to his name this year in the form of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, in which he carded a breathtaking second round of 64, one of his best golfing days in recent seasons.
What are his chances? His previous form at the Open would suggest that Molinari is not about to take the world of golf by storm over four rounds. In four Open appearances, he has missed the cut three times but his game is perfectly suited to links golf so he should come to the fore.
His 2012 to date: Molinari has been overshadowed by some of his European Ryder Cup rivals but 19th at the Masters and 29th at the US Open were not bad results. He also has a tournament win in Spain and finished second at the French Open, plus he carded a record round of 62 at the first round of the Scottish Open.
What are his chances? The results in the majors have not exactly been blistering since he stunned the sport with victory at the Open 13 years ago but he is playing some of the best golf of his career.
His 2012 to date: Lawrie has been one of Europe's form players this season and has climbed up the rankings thanks to some strong showings including victory at the Qatar Masters and 24th at the Masters. He professes to enjoy playing at Royal Lytham so expect his surprise year to continue.