Ranking the Top 25 Golfers Heading into the 2014 British Open

Ben Alberstadt@benalberstadtFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2014

Ranking the Top 25 Golfers Heading into the 2014 British Open

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    With mere days until the tournament begins at Royal Liverpool, it's time to take a look at the top 25 golfers entering the Open Championship (or British Open, depending on your persuasion). 

    And before anyone gets bent out of shape about why so-and-so is ranked ahead of so-and-so, remember: This isn't an odds list. It's not a regurgitation of the FedEx Cup standings or the Official World Golf Ranking. 

    Rather it's a ranking of the top 25 golfers that is one part recent play, one part performance this season and one part career achievement. 

    With that in mind, on to the ranking. 

25. Harris English

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    OWGR: 48

    Best of 2014: Harris English claimed victory at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. He's made 18 of 22 cuts this year and has finished inside the top 10 nearly 30 percent of the times he's teed it up. 

    Why He's Here: There are several one-win players on tour this year who have multiple top-10s. English gets the nod due to top-10s in two of his last three starts. 

    Open Championship History: English tied for 15th at the Open Championship last year. 

24. Webb Simpson

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    OWGR: 29

    Best of 2014: Webb Simpson won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. He's made 14 of 17 cuts, with seven top-10 finishes. 

    Why He's Here: Twelfth in the FedEx Cup standings, Simpson finished third his last time out. He's one of the 25 best players on tour right now and has been for the past couple of campaigns. 

    Open Championship History: Simpson has made two of three cuts at the Open Championship. He tied for 16th in 2011. 

23. Brendon Todd

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    OWGR: 41

    Best of 2014: One of the strongest players on tour recently, Brendon Todd won the Byron Nelson Championship. 

    Why He's Here: Simple: In his last six starts, Todd has finished outside the top 10 just once. Other than Justin Rose, no golfer is hotter.

    Open Championship History: This will be 28-year-old Todd's first Open Championship. 

22. Patrick Reed

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    OWGR: 30

    Best of 2014: Patrick Reed has two wins on tour this year. Beyond the victories, Reed has made 13 of 20 cuts and is seventh in the FedEx Cup standings.

    Why He's Here: Although not predicted to fare incredibly well in his first Open Championship, Reed has the tools to put together a solid performance at Hoylake. In addition, he's one of four players with more than one win this year. 

    Open Championship History: Reed will be making his first appearance in an Open Championship this year. 

21. Angel Cabrera

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    OWGR: 55

    Best of 2014: Angel Cabrera won the Greenbrier Classic. He's been strong as of late, with top-25 finishes in his two starts prior to the Greenbrier.

    Why He's Here: If this weren't a major, Cabrera wouldn't make the list. As it is a major, the notoriously unpredictable Cabrera could do anything. 

    Open Championship History: Cabrera finished seventh last time the Open Championship was held at Hoylake. He finished tied for 11th at the tournament last year. 

20. Luke Donald

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    OWGR: 20

    Best of 2014: Former world No. 1 Luke Donald has made nine of 11 cuts on the PGA Tour this season. He finished second at the RBC Heritage. 

    Why He's Here: Donald would have accumulated more FedEx Cup points at this point if he'd played more. He missed the cut at both majors and should be incredibly motivated as he returns to Hoylake. 

    Open Championship History: Donald finished tied for 35th at Hoylake in 2006. He's notched two top-10s in past Opens. 

19. Thomas Bjorn

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    OWGR: 24

    Best of 2014: The Great Dane, Thomas Bjorn, is having an excellent season on the European Tour. In addition, he finished eighth at the Masters in April. 

    Why He's Here: Bjorn is leading the European Tour's Race to Dubai. Quality play across his career helps him slide inside the top 20 in this ranking. 

    Open Championship History: Bjorn has had heartbreak at the Open Championship. He's also had four top-10 finishes since 1997. 

18. Rickie Fowler

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    OWGR: 25

    Best of 2014: In the midst of swing changes, Rickie Fowler has played well this season. In his last start on tour, Fowler finished tied for second at the U.S. Open. 

    Why He's Here: Fowler lands here thanks to a solid record at the Open Championship and a brilliant showing at the U.S. Open. 

    Open Championship History: Fowler's best showing at the Open Championship is a tie for fifth at the tournament in 2011. He missed the cut last year. 

17. Jim Furyk

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    OWGR: 11

    Best of 2014: Pennsylvania native Jim Furyk has made the cut in all 13 of his starts this season. He's finished inside the top 10 five times. 

    Why He's Here: Furyk is a grizzled veteran who has been one of the top 10 or 15 golfers on the PGA Tour for the past decade. He's having a solid 2014 and is perched at 14th in the FedEx Cup standings. 

    Open Championship History: Furyk has five top-10s at the Open Championship. He missed the cut last year, however.

16. Graeme McDowell

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    OWGR: 17

    Best of 2014: Graeme McDowell won the French Open at the beginning of the month. On the PGA Tour, he's totaled five top-10s in 11 events. 

    Why He's Here: McDowell lands here thanks to a solid record of top-10s and a win on the European Tour. 

    Open Championship History: GMac's best showing at the Open Championship is a tie for fifth at the 2012 tournament. He tied for 58th at Muirfield last year. 

15. Matt Kuchar

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    OWGR: 5

    Best of 2014: Matt Kuchar won the RBC Heritage in late April. In addition, he's recorded a ridiculous nine top-10 finishes in 17 starts. 

    Why He's Here: Kuchar falls behind Sergio Garcia as a result of the former's superior play at the R&A's annual event across his career. 

    Open Championship History: Kuchar finished tied for ninth at the 2012 Open Championship. He tied for 15th at Muirfield last year. 

14. Sergio Garcia

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    OWGR: 9

    Best of 2014: Garcia has made nine of 10 cuts this year with six top-10 finishes, including a second and two thirds. 

    Why He's Here: In his last three starts, Garcia has two top-five finishes. His past solid play in the Open Championship and career of quality performances vault him up the ranking. 

    Open Championship History: Starting in 2001, Garcia finished inside the top 10 six out of seven years. He finished tied for 21st at Muirfield last year. 

13. Jason Day

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    OWGR: 6

    Best of 2014: Jason Day won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. He's tallied three top-10 finishes in eight starts this year. 

    Why He's Here: Although he's seen limited action due to injury, Day has been superb in his starts this year, especially the important ones. 

    Open Championship History: In three starts at the Open Championship, Day's best finish is a tie for 30th in 2011. 

12. Phil Mickelson

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    OWGR: 13

    Best of 2014: Phil Mickelson hasn't been having a great year. He missed the cut at the Masters and The Players.

    Why He's Here: Although he hasn't been fantastic in 2014, Mickelson is still the second-best golfer of the past decade and the defending champion. 

    Open Championship History: Mickelson won the Open Championship at Muirfield last year.

11. Dustin Johnson

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    OWGR: 16

    Best of 2014: Dustin Johnson won the WGC-HSBC Champions. He's made 13 cuts on the year with nine top-25 finishes. 

    Why He's Here: Fourth in the FedEx Cup standings, Johnson has been solid all year long. His tie for fourth at the U.S. Open positions him again as a major contender (he missed the cut at the Masters). 

    Open Championship History: In four starts at the Open Championship, Johnson has two top-10 finishes, including a tie for ninth in 2012. 

10. Jimmy Walker

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    OWGR: 18

    Best of 2014: Three wins defined the early part of Jimmy Walker's 2014 season. He also finished inside the top 10 at the Masters and the U.S. Open. 

    Why He's Here: Although he missed the cut at the Greenbrier Classic his last time out, Walker leads the FedEx Cup points race and has top-10s in four of his last 10 starts. He's simply playing great golf this year. 

    Open Championship History: Walker has only played in one Open Championship in his career (Muirfield, last year). He missed the cut. 

9. Zach Johnson

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    OWGR: 14

    Best of 2014: Zach Johnson won the Tournament of Champions. He's made 17 of 19 cuts and has racked up five top-10 finishes. 

    Why He's Here: Johnson finished second and tied for ninth in his last two outings, respectively. He's been one of the best players on tour this season.

    Open Championship History: The Iowa native has top-10s in his last two Open Championships. He finished tied for sixth at Muirfield last year. 

8. Jordan Spieth

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    OWGR: 10

    Best of 2014: Jordan Spieth finished tied for second at the Masters. He's made 16 of 20 cuts with seven top-10 finishes. 

    Why He's Here: Spieth's solid play has earned him the fifth spot in the FedEx Cup standings. His strong showings at the U.S. Open and Masters prove he's an upper-echelon player.

    Open Championship History: Spieth has only teed it up at the Open Championship once in his career thus far. He tied for 44th at the tournament last year. 

7. Henrik Stenson

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    OWGR: 2

    Best of 2014: Henrik Stenson has made eight of nine cuts on the PGA Tour this season. He tied for fourth at the U.S. Open in his last PGA Tour start. He also finished second at the BMW International Open. 

    Why He's Here: Stenson has come on strong lately. As the second-ranked player in the world and a favorite to win the Open, the Swede deserves premium billing. 

    Open Championship History: Stenson finished runner-up to Mickelson at last year's Open Championship. He's finished inside the top 10 on two other occasions in the event.

6. Tiger Woods

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    OWGR: 7

    Best of 2014: The best occurrence in the golf life of Tiger Woods this season is his recent pain-free return to competitive golf. 

    Why He's Here: You can throw Woods' lackluster start to 2014 out the window. He's rebooted, refreshed and returning to a course he dominated in 2006. 

    Open Championship History: Woods has won the Open Championship three times, most recently in 2006. He finished tied for sixth at Muirfield last year.

5. Bubba Watson

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    OWGR: 4

    Best of 2014: In April, Bubba Watson won his second Masters in three years. He also won the Northern Trust Open and has seven top-10s in 12 starts. 

    Why He's Here: A major victory, another win and a tie for 16th his last time out, Watson has been great this season and is still on form. 

    Open Championship History: Watson has struggled at the Open Championship: He's hasn't finished better than a tie for 23rd in five appearances. 

4. Martin Kaymer

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    OWGR: 12

    Best of 2014: Martin Kaymer won the U.S. Open and The Players Championship. He's made 10 of 12 cuts with five top-25 finishes. 

    Why He's Here: Kaymer lands here on the strength of winning the second major of the year and the tour's informal "fifth" major. 

    Open Championship History: In five starts at the Open Championship, Kaymer has finished inside the top 10 once (2010). He's only missed the cut at the tournament once. 

3. Adam Scott

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    OWGR: 1

    Best of 2014: In addition to assuming the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking, Adam Scott's year has included a win at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. Further, he's accumulated a total of six top-10s. 

    Why He's Here: Scott hasn't finished outside the top 10 in his last three starts. One of the most talented golfers in the world, Scott has been one of the tour's most consistently good golfers this year. 

    Open Championship History: Scott bogeyed away the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham. He finished tied for third at Muirfield last year. 

2. Rory McIlroy

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    OWGR: 8

    Best of 2014: Rory McIlroy won the BMW PGA Championship in May. On the PGA Tour, he's made 10 of 10 cuts and notched six top-10 finishes.

    Why He's Here: A respectable 14th-place finish at last week's Scottish Open proves that McIlroy is ready for the season's third major. His combination of ability and recent performance lands him in the second spot.

    Open Championship History: McIlroy tied for third at the 2010 Open Championship. He missed the cut at last year's competition. 

1. Justin Rose

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    OWGR: 3

    Best of 2014: Rose was victorious in his last two starts. The Englishman won the Quicken Loans National on the PGA Tour and the Scottish Open on the European Tour. He's totaled six top-10s in 13 starts on the PGA Tour. 

    Why He's Here: There isn't a hotter golfer in the game than Rose.

    Open Championship History: Rose famously finished tied for fourth as an amateur at the Open Championship in 1998. Since that finish, he hasn't cracked the top 10.