The Open kicks off in just two days, and as we inch closer to the opening tee shots, we think of the players that need this major championship win the most. While anyone at Royal Liverpool would gladly take the Claret Jug on Sunday and run, we narrowed it down to five big names that we think could use this victory the most for one reason or another.
5.) Justin Rose — Rose doesn't need to validate anything he's done this season, winning his last two starts at the Memorial and Scottish Open, but the man that burst on the scene at this championship back in 1998 has never been in better form to win his first Claret Jug. If Rose is going to get it done, and add a second major win in as many years, this is the best week he might ever have at this trophy. Leaving Hoylake without the trophy will be as disappointing to Rose as it will to any other player in the field, and I think he knows this and is ready for the challenge.
4.) Rickie Fowler — Sure, Fowler went through a slump after that T-5 at the Masters, but he's played solid golf the last month, finishing T-13 at the St. Jude, T-2 at the U.S. Open and T-8 at the Scottish Open that included a final-round 65. Fowler only has one career PGA Tour win, but his dedication to his swing changes have paid off at the big events this year, and a win would validate all the hype and all the expectations most have for Fowler moving forward.
3.) Henrik Stenson — You might expect someone like Lee Westwood or Jason Day to make this list over Stenson, but Westwood has missed his last three cuts and Day doesn't have a top-10 finish at the Open. But Stenson seems ready to take another big step in his career, playing solid at Pinehurst, and has now finished in the top 4 in three of his last four major starts.
2.) Tiger Woods — We don't expect Woods to really compete at this championship considering his time off from injury and his play at the Quicken Loans National, but if there is a man that could use a major championship to shut everyone up, it's Tiger. It just doesn't seem like this is the week he'll do it.
1.) Rory McIlroy — This hasn't been Rory's favorite major over the years, but great players, the type that get mentioned only with a first name, learn how to play any and all golf courses. Rory will need to figure something out at this event, and with the way Hoylake looks to play this week, it might be his best chance in the next few years to claim a Claret Jug. McIlroy must avoid the big numbers, and the letdown day like he had on Friday at the Scottish Open to have a shot at this title, but McIlroy would love to win his first major since the 2012 PGA Championship and reset the expectations for this 25-year-old.
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