Leonard Shapiro, Sports Columnist

The Contenders at the British Open

By Leonard Shapiro
Special to washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, July 18, 2007; 1:51 PM

1. Tiger Woods: He says his game is sharp and he's had no problems with the sluggish speed of Carnoustie's greens as he goes for three straight British titles.

2. Phil Mickelson: Four rounds in the 60s last week at the Scottish Open indicate his wounded left wrist may be okay, though Mickelson has only one top ten finish in 14 previous Opens.

3. Ernie Els: He's also starting to see his game come around, with three top ten finishes in his last five events, including second in the Scottish Open with a final round 65.

4. Sergio Garcia: He's missed the cut in the first two majors of the year, but has had five top ten finishes in his last six British Opens, including a tie for fifth the last two years.

5. Jim Furyk: He's had four top ten finishes in his last five PGA Tour events, including a tie for second at the U.S. Open. He was fourth last year at Liverpool, ending a streak of missing the Open cut the previous five years.

6. Padraig Harrington: The Irishman has been struggling lately and missed the cut in his last two Opens, but loves links golf and should be in the hunt on Sunday.

7. Colin Montgomerie: The obvious sentimental choice who won 10 days ago at the European Open and finished second in the St. Andrews Open two years ago. He knows the course better than anyone in the field.

8. Jonathan Byrd: Playing in his first British Open, the 2002 PGA Tour rookie of the year won last week's John Deere Classic and is the only American player under 30 years old with three career victories.

9. David Toms: Finished fourth in his first Open at St. Andrews in 2004 and has three top tens in his last three starts on the PGA Tour, including a tie for fifth in the U.S. Open.

10. Zach Johnson: Has never made a cut in three previous Opens and has missed the cut in his last two PGA Tour events. Still, the Masters champion has plenty of game to succeed at Carnoustie.

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