Phil Mickelson was almost a shoe-in for The Masters at Augusta. The U.S. Open as usual, went to the survivor of a ridiculous course, Graeme McDowell. But the British Open seems to be the major championship with the most intriguing story-lines year in and year out. Last year it was 60-year-old Tom Watson going all the way to the end in a bid to become the oldest major champion before a missed putt on the 72nd hole left him in a playoff where he was beaten by the guy no one on earth was rooting for, Stewart Cink.
This year is shaping up to be quite the same. Tiger Woods has won the last two Open Championships at St. Andrews and one might think him a sure bet to win again this week. There's no doubt Tiger has the game, but no one has ever won more than two Opens at St. Andrews, and I really don't think with where Tiger's mental state is right now that he'll be the first.
So where are the stories this week? All over the place. Take the story-lines, not the favorites in this week's Open. That's what I'm doing, and here's my top five to take the Claret Jug.
1. Nick Faldo -Yes, I just heard the collective "what?" from all of our readers, but let me explain. Faldo won at St. Andrews in 1990. He also recently was in the golf press for a bit of a squabble with European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie about not even talking about whether or not he would be included on this year's team. Faldo is a staple and a proven winner as a Ryder Cup participant. What better way to stick it to Monty than by winning the Open? If Tom Watson could make it to day four, so can Faldo. He is a total dark-horse, but these picks are all about the dark-horses. He's mine.
2. Colin Montgomerie - Speaking of which, you want drama? How cool would it be to see Faldo and Montgomerie in the same pairing on Sunday somewhere near the top of the leaderboard? I hope it happens. Montgomerie has never won a major title, has been atrocious on U.S. soil, but remains one of Europe's best golfers. He has the game to win at St. Andrews. He made it all the way through qualifying to be here, and this could be the week he finally gets it done in front of a friendly, non-American crowd which bodes better for his confidence.
3. John Daly -If not for two holes because of some rather ridiculous chances taken last week, Daly would've had a top-10 finish at The Barclay's. He's been eyeing this one as his comeback story. His game is close enough to get him there, it's whether or not he has the confidence and patience to pull it off. If there was ever a week to test whether or not Daly was truly making a return to the form of old, this would be it at the site he won his second major title in 1995. He will make noise one way or the other. I highly suspect he'll be in the top 10 at some point during this tournament. Whether or not he stays there for long is up for serious debate.
4 and 5. -The Molinari brothers, Edoardo and Francesco - They both hit the ball a country mile, both have serious game, and Edoardo is coming off a European Tour win last week against a very tough field in terrible playing conditions. These two are already serious notables across the pond. If you want a big story, how about two brothers on the first page of the leaderboard come Sunday? If that wouldn't be huge, I don't know what would be.
E-mail B.J. Lisko at firstname.lastname@example.org