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      Power Rankings: The Open Championship

    • Henrik Stenson owns a trio of top-three finishes at The Open Championship. He was T48 at Hoylake in 2006. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images) Henrik Stenson owns a trio of top-three finishes at The Open Championship. He was T48 at Hoylake in 2006. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

    It seems that no matter how worthy the winner, we're surprised annually by the outcome. Yet, since Tiger Woods cruised to victory for his third Claret Jug the last time the R&A hosted The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England, in 2006, a contemporary Who's Who has joined him in the annals. Even when Tom Watson didn't win at Turnberry in 2009, it came with a bit of a jolt. Further consider that the last two champions are Hall of Famers -- Ernie Els (2012) and Phil Mickelson, who defends his first title in the season's third major.

    Maybe it's because the elements and the inherent (mis)fortune of links golf caps our expectations. That's fair. For the 143rd edition of The Open Championship -- the 12th at Royal Liverpool -- rain and wind cannot be ruled out, but it wouldn't be an Open without either anyway.

    This wasn't the case when Woods authored another chapter of brilliance on what was a sufficiently dry Royal Liverpool. His 270 aggregate remains the lowest since he dusted the field by eight en route to 269 at St. Andrews in 2000. Both sites of those victories are par 72s. (All of the other courses in the rota since 1990 are either par 70s or 71s.) Therefore, what's not surprising is how Woods scored on the quartet of par 5s here in 2006. He went bogey-free 14 under with two eagles and 10 birdies. All seven of his bogeys for the week were on par 4s. He played the par 3s in 3 under.

    Up 54 yards from its 2006 measurement to a maximum 7,312 this week, Royal Liverpool boasts three par 5s on the second nine -- Nos. 10, 16 and 18 -- so it plays as a par 35-37. In 2006, it averaged just 0.366 strokes over par and surrendered a par-5 scoring average of 4.52, good for fifth-easiest of any course that season. It showed its teeth in scrambling (47.53; second in 2006), but the field hit a healthy two-thirds of the greens in regulation on average anyway. Par-4 scoring checked in at 4.20, good for fifth-highest of the year.

    POWER RANKINGS: THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

    Rank

    Player

    Comment

    1 Henrik Stenson Henrik Stenson

    No Scandinavian has ever won a major. Top sevens in five of last six starts; T2 in Germany. Three top threes in The Open Championship.

    No Scandinavian has ever won a major. Top sevens in five of last six starts; T2 in Germany. Three top threes in The Open Championship.

    2 Adam Scott Adam Scott

    Came close to redemption following 2012 meltdown with T3 at Muirfield. World's top-ranked golfer last competed at the U.S. Open (T9).

    Came close to redemption following 2012 meltdown with T3 at Muirfield. World's top-ranked golfer last competed at the U.S. Open (T9).

    3 Martin Kaymer Martin Kaymer

    Big-stage performer. Only two top 10s of last eight months are wins at THE PLAYERS and U.S. Open. T12 in Paris in last start two weeks ago.

    Big-stage performer. Only two top 10s of last eight months are wins at THE PLAYERS and U.S. Open. T12 in Paris in last start two weeks ago.

    4 Sergio Garcia Sergio Garcia

    May be best active without a major title, so he'd fit profile of a surprising yet worthy champion. Seven Open top 10s, including T5 in 2006.

    May be best active without a major title, so he'd fit profile of a surprising yet worthy champion. Seven Open top 10s, including T5 in 2006.

    5 Zach Johnson Zach Johnson

    Last missed cut in this event occurred at Hoylake in 2006, but he has two top 10s and another two top 20s since. Solo second at John Deere.

    Last missed cut in this event occurred at Hoylake in 2006, but he has two top 10s and another two top 20s since. Solo second at John Deere.

    6 Justin Rose Justin Rose

    The knock is he's peaked too early, but he's never won two in a row, either. Winner at Congressional & Royal Aberdeen has poor Open record.

    The knock is he's peaked too early, but he's never won two in a row, either. Winner at Congressional & Royal Aberdeen has poor Open record.

    7 Rory McIlroy Rory McIlroy

    May want a rainout on Friday when he almost always struggles. MC in Ireland in June is only finish outside top 25 in 14 starts in 2014.

    May want a rainout on Friday when he almost always struggles. MC in Ireland in June is only finish outside top 25 in 14 starts in 2014.

    8 Matt Kuchar Matt Kuchar

    After opening his Open career 1-for-7, he's placed T9 (2012) and T15 (2013). Leads PGA TOUR with nine top 10s. Second in adjusted scoring.

    After opening his Open career 1-for-7, he's placed T9 (2012) and T15 (2013). Leads PGA TOUR with nine top 10s. Second in adjusted scoring.

    9 Graeme McDowell Graeme McDowell

    Won the Open de France two weeks ago when Kevin Stadler collapsed on Sunday. G-Mac tied for sixth two weeks prior in Ireland.

    Won the Open de France two weeks ago when Kevin Stadler collapsed on Sunday. G-Mac tied for sixth two weeks prior in Ireland.

    10 Dustin Johnson Dustin Johnson

    Second on the PGA TOUR in par-5 scoring and strong across the board. Trio of top 15s in this tournament; T2 in 2011. T4 at Pinehurst.

    Second on the PGA TOUR in par-5 scoring and strong across the board. Trio of top 15s in this tournament; T2 in 2011. T4 at Pinehurst.

    11 Jordan Spieth Jordan Spieth

    Last major before 21st birthday. Inside the top 20 in 15 of his 19 starts in 2014, including the last five. T7 in John Deere title defense.

    Last major before 21st birthday. Inside the top 20 in 15 of his 19 starts in 2014, including the last five. T7 in John Deere title defense.

    12 Rickie Fowler Rickie Fowler

    Work with Butch Harmon continues to pay dividends. Three straight top 15s upon arrival, end-loaded with T2 at Pinehurst and T8 in Scotland.

    Work with Butch Harmon continues to pay dividends. Three straight top 15s upon arrival, end-loaded with T2 at Pinehurst and T8 in Scotland.

    13 Angel Cabrera Angel Cabrera

    What shoulder injury? Comes off a win at Greenbrier, his third straight top 25. Tied for 11th last year at Muirfield. Solo seventh in 2006.

    What shoulder injury? Comes off a win at Greenbrier, his third straight top 25. Tied for 11th last year at Muirfield. Solo seventh in 2006.

    14 Brendon Todd Brendon Todd

    Since breaking through at the HP Byron Nelson, he's added four top 10s and a T17 in his major championship debut at the U.S. Open.

    Since breaking through at the HP Byron Nelson, he's added four top 10s and a T17 in his major championship debut at the U.S. Open.

    15 Brandt Snedeker Brandt Snedeker

    Transition to Butch Harmon has helped yield three straight top 25s, including T9 at Pinehurst. T3 in 2012 Open Championship; T11 last year.

    Transition to Butch Harmon has helped yield three straight top 25s, including T9 at Pinehurst. T3 in 2012 Open Championship; T11 last year.

    16 Phil Mickelson Phil Mickelson

    His win at Muirfield last year was supposed to be out of his grasp. No top 10s in his last 14 starts, but he's posted six top 20s.

    His win at Muirfield last year was supposed to be out of his grasp. No top 10s in his last 14 starts, but he's posted six top 20s.

    17 Bubba Watson Bubba Watson

    While maybe not a formulaic fit for links golf, he's survived last three cuts with a T23 in 2012. Two wins, two T2s and a third in 2014.

    While maybe not a formulaic fit for links golf, he's survived last three cuts with a T23 in 2012. Two wins, two T2s and a third in 2014.

    18 Hideki Matsuyama Hideki Matsuyama

    After battling a wrist injury for months, broke through at the Muirfield Village. Shared sixth in Open debut at Muirfield last year.

    After battling a wrist injury for months, broke through at the Muirfield Village. Shared sixth in Open debut at Muirfield last year.

    19 Charl Schwartzel Charl Schwartzel

    All of his four cuts made in nine starts in The Open are top 25s, including a T22 in 2006. Eight top 20s in 14 starts worldwide in 2014.

    All of his four cuts made in nine starts in The Open are top 25s, including a T22 in 2006. Eight top 20s in 14 starts worldwide in 2014.

    20 Keegan Bradley Keegan Bradley

    Gets some benefit of the doubt coming off T4 at Greenbrier. Also T4 at Pinehurst five weeks ago. T15 last year at Muirfield.

    Gets some benefit of the doubt coming off T4 at Greenbrier. Also T4 at Pinehurst five weeks ago. T15 last year at Muirfield.

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