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Down go the past champs

July 17, 2012
B.J. LISKO - Salem News Sports Editor ( , Salem News

I'm not against new guys. Really, I'm not. You won't find me on Sunday afternoon cursing the first-time winners on my television during golf's major events. It's great for these guys to achieve their dream and up their status in the professional golf world.

But can it stop this week? Please?

The Webb Simpsons, Bubba Watsons, Keegan Bradleys and Charl Schwartzels of the world are good golfers, sure, but I can tell you right now none of them will ever be dominant. Recent major crowns have all been given to the guy who is still standing at the end because everyone else either shot themselves in the foot, or course conditions were so horrific the guy standing with the trophy at the end was the only one who miraculously managed to avoid getting a bad hop for four rounds. Right now in professional golf, it's way better to be lucky then good.

I'm not saying recent major winners won't ever win again, but as this insane list of first-time major winners continues to grow it's just another guy added to the "notables" list on ESPN, The Golf Channel and this very paper. Sure, they're notable, but they're not dominant or even consistent for that matter. They're not Tiger or Phil. They're not even John Daly. A lot of these guys have the personalities of a wood pallet, and despite being able to admire their skill and success it's simply not as exciting as a viewer.

The only new major winners I hope to see soon are either Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald or Lee Westwood. Steve Striker and Miguel Angel Jiminez, too. If it's not one of those five, it better be a Tiger, Phil, Daly or someone equally as exciting. If I stay up until 5 a.m. four days straight to see Chad Campbell hoist the claret jug (nothing personal, Chad), I'm gonna be ticked.

Now that my most recent pro golf pet peeve is out of the way, on to my picks.

Top 5

1. Tiger Woods - I'm picking him until he wins a major because I'm that confident it's right around the corner from happening. He's coming off a win/missed cut in his last two, but he's still the betting favorite and likely always will be. Woods wins it come Sunday.

2. Phil Mickelson - Mickelson played in last week's Scottish Open and did pretty well. He's good at getting his head back into things relatively quickly even after particularly bad spells of golf. He was runner-up to Darren Clarke last year, and he'll add the British Open to his resume before his career is done. This year just might be his time.

3. Graeme McDowell - McDowell relishes the spotlight especially in European events. It doesn't get any bigger for European events than this.

4. Lee Westwood - He's too good not to win a major. Right? Hello ...?

5. Ian Poulter - Okay, I lied. There's six guys I wouldn't mind winning their first major. Poulter, like McDowell, is good for rising to the occasion across the pond. He also has the accuracy to avoid the sand for four rounds.

Wild Cards

1. John Daly - No one expects anything from Daly other than me, who has been championing his comeback now for years. He actually looks closer to it than ever before and with his recent struggles in the only two majors he can still play (British, PGA), it's time he makes some noise again.

2. David Duval - Another Mr. Irrelevant in recent years, Duval's last ever win came at this very course in 2001 when he was No. 1 in the world. He's never offered excuses for his lack of contending. Anywhere near the Sunday leaderboard would make for a huge story.

3. Vijay Singh - Remember when Vijay Singh was in the final groups practically every week? It wasn't that long ago, and he's finally showing signs of life again. It could be a surprise week for the big Fijian.

Mr. Anonymous

I have to pick at least one guy that has no business being picked simply because since Tiger went absent from the top spot in the world, just about every winner was Mr. Anonymous at one time or another. That being said, and if Tiger or someone we actually recognize doesn't win this week, then Francesco Molinari will. He lost in a playoff last week at the Scottish Open where he should've won. Going with the playoff loss then win theme of 2012 (see Kyle Stanley), expect Molinari to bounce back this week.



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