Westwood vs. Donald
This 140th edition of The Open Championship, also known on the United States side of the pond as the British Open, will come down to a country-wrenching battle for the title between Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.
The English will be torn. Their tabloids will wring their hands in indecision that will manifest itself in big, black wobbly headlines. Whom to root for? Which one is truly our lad? They are both Englishmen, of course, but which is more English than the other?
Soon, the tide will turn toward Westwood, born and raised and stayed on the Isles, over Donald, who went off to school in the States, at Northwestern. The surge of public support will leave the claret jug on Westwood's mantle.
A long shot: Johnson
But I'll take an 80-to-1 shot: Zach Johnson. The fact that he's American probably should make him 180-to-1, considering the five-major losing streak for the Stars 'n' Stripes.
But Johnson has the experience, the guts and the short game to get it done on the quirky Royal St. George's layout. He finished tied for third at last week's John Deere Classic. And, hey, he is less obscure than Louis Oosthuizen.
Rory McIlroy now has the spotlight's full attention. Luke Donald has the world No. 1 ranking. That leaves Lee Westwood no better than third for the attention of his own countrymen — and maybe the perfect setting for him to finally nab that first major.
The 38-year-old pro has been knocking on the door long enough, with top-3 finishes in five of his previous seven majors. That includes a runner-up finish last year at St. Andrews.
The Englishman has seen enough windblown days by now to handle whatever Royal St. George's figures to throw this week. He'll catch the Brits' eye again when his name hits the leaderboard — earning a hard-fought reward with his name on the claret jug.
Claret jug stays home
Lee Westwood has finished third or better in six majors since 2008. Westwood certainly presents himself choice opportunities but slips at the moment of conversion. As a result, those six finishes are the latest letdowns of an 0-for-53 career at the majors.
Westwood's testing of the law of averages either will end smashingly (the Phil Mickelson Theory) or continue on forever (the Colin Montgomerie Conundrum). Since the last two Open champions (Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink) were upsets and underdogs — and since an Englishman hasn't won since Nick Faldo in 1992 — it's time for the claret jug to be kissed by one of its own.
And since Luke Donald is a de facto American (he played at Northwestern), we'll go with Westwood.