Player: European to win Open

2012-07-18 19:55

Lytham - Laureus World Sports Academy Member and South African golf legend Gary Player says he believes a European golfer is favourite to win the Open Championship at Royal Lytham.

Although the last three Major Championships have been won by Americans - Keegan Bradley (2011 USPGA), Bubba Watson (2012 Masters) and Webb Simpson (US Open) - Player does not believe the United States will end up holding all four Majors by Sunday.

Writing on, Player, one of only five men to win golf’s Grand Slam of the four Major Championships, says: “If I look at what the weather man is saying, this Championship, in my opinion, is favouring a European player.

“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 No 1 for nothing.”

Player also says Tiger Woods is 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 focused and is playing smarter golf than he did before. Tiger will be right there at Lytham, I am sure, but the other big debating point, of course, now that he is back to something like his old self, is: can he match Jack Nicklaus’ total of 18 Major Championships?

“I always felt that Tiger, who has already won 14, would do it, but the lost two years have hurt him. That’s eight Major Championships that have slipped by. I think if he is going to do it, he has to win one Major Championship this year - that means the Open or the US PGA in August. When he’s playing well, he’s much better than anybody else. I would be surprised if he doesn’t do it.”

Player, who won his third Open Championship at Lytham, has no sympathy for golfers this week who have been complaining about the rough on the course. He says: “If you’re a good player that should be to your advantage. 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.”