Player backs European golfers at Open
South Africa’s three-time champion, Gary Player, believes a European golfer is favourite to win the Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St. Annes in Lancashire this week.
While the last three Majors have been won by Americans — Keegan Bradley (2011 PGA Championship), Bubba Watson (2012 Masters) and Webb Simpson (2012 US Open) — Player wrote on the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation website that he did not believe the United States would hold all four Majors by Sunday.
“If I look at what the weather man is saying, this Championship, in my opinion, is favouring a European player,” Player wrote in a blog on laureus.com.
“Anyone can win. So to try and predict winners is very difficult.
“However, I would love to see Lee Westwood win. He’s been working hard and came so close to winning that I think it might be his turn.
“A golf course like this is made for him, because it’s very narrow and he is a straight driver.
“Luke Donald is another who is always consistent and you don’t become world number one for nothing.” Player, a nine-time Major champion, believed American Tiger Woods was also back in serious contention after winning three tournaments this year.
“He is a force to be reckoned with again. He has a good mind, is very focussed and is playing smarter golf than he did before,” Player said.
“Tiger will be right there at Lytham, I am sure.” Player, who won his third Open Championship at Royal Lytham in 1974, had no sympathy for golfers who had complained this week about the rough on the course ahead of Thursday’s opening round.
“If you’re a good player, that should be to your advantage,” he said.
“When I went to a tournament I wanted the rough to be very high, because that meant if you hit it straight you were going to win.
“Heavy rough will stop a real outsider winning. I think this year it’s going to take a special champion to win.” South Africa will be represented by 14 players in the 141st edition of the Open Championship, including 2002 champion Ernie Els and 2010 winner Louis Ooszthuizen.