The 2014 season's third major is upon us, and a loaded field will head to Royal Liverpool for 143rd edition of the British Open Championship. For many casual fans, however, it's the first major of the year because it's the first time Tiger Woods will be teeing it up with a chance to cut into that gap between his 14 and Jack Nicklaus' record 18 majors championships. Woods is almost always the favorite in any event he plays, regardless of health, recent form, venue, or the rest of the field. Even if he's not an overwhelming favorite, he's still at the top with the lowest odds.
But that's not the case at the start of the week, as his Nike partner, Rory McIlroy, has been installed as the early favorite at 10/1. It's understandable that Woods would be a bit down the list for the oddsmakers, but still surprising to see him there. Tiger's record this year is basically not applicable, and the last time we saw him, he was bombing out early and missing the cut at his own event at Congressional. That was largely treated like more of a competitive warm-up for this week, but we saw some of the old Tiger short-game slip-ups that were there before the injury, and not necessarily caused by that back issue. He's had a few more weeks now to get what he calls his "feels" right, but based on his incomplete record, Woods is rightly down the board and not the favorite.
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Hank Haney takes aim once again at his favorite target, Tiger Woods, ahead of next week’s British Open.
Tiger's not too far though, with only four players listed with lower odds and still ahead of the defending champ and his top contemporary, Phil Mickelson. Woods is currently 16/1 while Phil, who has had just as underwhelming a season without being injured, is 20/1. Adam Scott has finished second and third in the last two Open Championships and is at 14/1, alongside Henrik Stenson and Martin Kaymer right behind Rory. Scott said on Sunday that the conditioning (not setup of course) at Royal Liverpool is just like Augusta right now, with not a blade of grass out of line. Given his recent track record at this event, Scott is a very good bet to pick up his second major title if he can just keep his putter rolling at an average to mediocre level.
All four majors have their identity and quirks, but the Open Championship is way out there on its own. The links-style venues and weather conditions make the tournament so unpredictable in so many years. The last time this major was held at Hoylake, Tiger Woods won it and didn't hit a driver all week. That club has historically gotten him into trouble, and he'll probably attempt the same general game plan this year. But depending on the wind, everything can change from hour-to-hour at the Open and often your chances are simply a luck of the draw, which side of the tee sheet -- morning or afternoon -- you land on through the first two days.
With just four spots left to round out the complete 156-man field, here are your odds at the top of the week in Hoylake:
|Player||Odds to Win the Open|
|Miguel Angel Jimenez||80/1|
|Bo Van Pelt||150/1|