The British Open is as open as ever

When the world's top golfers fail to win majors, there's little certain at tournaments like the British Open.

    World number one Luke Donald is just one of many favourites at the British Open this year [GALLO/GETTY] 

    Golf's world ranking system is a subject worthy of its own degree course at Oxford or Cambridge.

    It is likely only golfing enthusiasts who tutor mathematics understand exactly why England's Luke Donald is currently world number one.

    The system revolves around the six major worldwide Tours, taking into consideration the scores of each player and the number of tournaments played. 

    The scoring system gets more complicated as it also reflects the quality of the field present, as well as the prestige of each event.

    This complex system allows Donald and Lee Westwood to be the world's number one and two without a single major win between them.

    Because of this factor, world rankings don't mean all too much to the fans or players at the British Open –which started on Thursday at Royal St George's.

    Major puzzle

    Picking a winner out of the 156 British Open competitors is as complex as the world ranking system itself.

    It wasn't world number one Donald but recent US major winner Rory McIlroy who had the journalists clambering for space at his press conference.

    Northern Ireland's McIlroy is the favourite with the bookmakers who believe the youngster is about to steal Tiger Woods' crown to dominate the sport.

    When top ranked golfers fail to win majors, we are left with a host of players the media and public have to keep their beady eyes on. 

    Firstly, we could start looking at the players who have faired well at the British Open in previous years.

    Woods has opened the doors to winners, many hailing from the other side of the pond [GALLO/GETTY] 

    In 2010, it was South African Louis Oosthuizen who lifted the Claret Jug with a 16 under par total of 272.

    Surely this makes Oosthuizen one to watch?

    But then again his win was at St Andrews, not Royal St George's. 

    So what about someone who has a great record at this year's British Open course, such as USA's Ben Curtis who won in 2003. 

    Could Curtis prevent the in-form world number two Lee Westwood from claiming his first major in front of his home crowd? 

    At majors like the British Open it is also important to watch out for anybody with a point to prove i.e. Thomas Bjorn who set a stunning 65 on his first day of golf on Thursday after crumbling at the tournament back in 2003.

    Maybe he could keep his position at the top?

    Or it could be a recent major winner that has the metal to live up to the big occasion.

    In this case, it leaves us with US Open winner McIlroy, reigning PGA Championship holder Martin Kaymer and Masters victor Charl Schwartzel to consider. 

    The mind boggles with possible winners.

    Tiger trail

    Major winners, top ranking golfers, people who have come tantalisingly close in the past, upcoming youngsters, those with a lucky club – there's no end to the golfers who could get their hands on the Claret Jug this year.

    Very little gives away who will be triumphant over the next few days at the British Open.

    In golf, gamblers might as well flip a coin to decide where their hard earned bucks should go.  

    All this makes the accomplishments of Tiger Woods the more remarkable.

    His absence will be felt at the British Open because in a world of complex rankings systems and ever changing variables it is simply phenomenal one man managed to call all bets off.

    Tiger Woods was the favourite who made the world ranking system simple. 

    Without a Tiger in his prime prowling the course, the majors have been blown wide open. 

    Considering the world number one and two are still without a major title, if Rory McIlroy can pull off back-to-back major wins he will be following in the steps of a true great.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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