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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 18:06 GMT 19:06 UK
Open predictions
Tiger Woods after winning last year's Open
Will Tiger triumph again? Not all the pundits think so

Hoylake's moment in the sun has arrived and play is under way. After a week discussing the course's merits or otherwise to stage the Open, it's time to focus on the competition.

With Royal Liverpool off the rota for 39 years, there's no guidebook to say who plays well here.

So we asked the experts in the media who follow golf year round to pick their 2006 Open champion.


DAMON HACK - NEW YORK TIMES

Winner: Retief Goosen
"The hot and dry conditions here are reminiscent of both Shinnecock Hills and Southern Hills where Goosen won his US Opens. He's due a win, I know he loves this championship and his tremendous long putting ability will carry the day."

Good week: Tim Clark
"Proved his mettle in the Masters, playing late in the day with major champions Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples. Hoylake is not tremendously long which will aid him and push him to a top-10 finish."

KEN BROWN - BBC SPORT

Padraig Harrington
Harrington gets the most votes to win this year

Winner: Padraig Harrington
"Has the absolutely perfect game for Hoylake. Has played a lot recently and the only reservation is whether he is puffed out before the race he really wants to win. A tremendously controlled striker of the ball, knows how to get round links courses, has a lovely touch on greens and is a lovely chipper."

Good week: Darren Clarke
"Worth a bit of interest. Brought up on links golf and has done well in previous Opens. Would be magical if he can win and really fulfil his tremendous potential. Despite the off-course problems, his mind will be on the job. It won't be easy for him, but he'd be a very popular winner. Certainly capable of it."

PAUL HAYWARD - DAILY MAIL

TOP CHOICES TO WIN
1. Padraig Harrington
(4 votes)
2. Tiger Woods (3 votes)
3. Retief Goosen (2 votes)
Winner: Tiger Woods
"It will be a tournament of craft, skill and dexterity, particularly with the pace of the fairways, and his technical expertise will play a huge role. From a romantic point of view, for him to win so soon after his father died would be immensely poignant."

Good week: John Daly
"His concert in the Cavern Club was apparently sensational, and whether it's knocking spectators out with over-hit drives or trying to actually win, he could become a cult figure this week. Liverpudlians love eccentric people and Daly is certainly that."

MARK LAMPORT-STOKES - REUTERS

Winner: Tiger Woods
"Despite only two events in the last three months, Woods' competitive juices are flowing again. He's determined to get back in the winner's circle, and has fresh incentive to win a first major since the death of his father. Defending champion and prepares well."

Good week: Stuart Appleby
"Lost in play-off at Muirfield in 2002. Loves firm, fast-running links courses and is good in the wind. Has won twice on PGA Tour this year. Will be in top 10 by the end of the week, at least."

MARTIN JOHNSON - THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

Winner: Jim Furyk
"If it doesn't blow, an American will win it. And he's good."

Good week: Luke Donald
"He's straight, and you don't have to be long here by the look of it. A good putter, a good head, a good egg - and he's British."

JOHN HOPKINS - THE TIMES

Winner: Jose Maria Olazabal
"A brilliant iron player. His weak driving will not matter so much here. Excellent short game."

Good week: Phil Mickelson
"Over the last few years he has proved himself to be almost as gifted Tiger Woods."

IAIN CARTER - RADIO FIVE LIVE

Winner: Padraig Harrington
"Harrington grew up on links courses and is not fazed by wind. He's been knocking on the door at major level for some time and has played himself into good form."

Good week: Jim Furyk
"All the talk here is of being in play and you can bet your bottom dollar the American will be in play."

ISAO AOKI - ASAHI TV

Luke Donald
Donald is the most popular choice for a good week at Hoylake
Winner: Tiger Woods
"It won't be about who beats the course, but who beats the weather. Hoylake doesn't have many ups and downs which might favour the Europeans, while the par fours of 16 and 17 will be pivotal. But Woods is still the favourite."

Good week: Adam Scott
"He could lead the youngsters in their attempts to steal the throne from Woods. If the wind blows a European might do well - Harrington or Clarke."

JIM McCABE - BOSTON GLOBE

Winner: Retief Goosen
"He's a vintage feel player which you need to be for links golf and this is links golf at its finest. You have to feel how far to hit it and visualise every shot. It's not the US Open where you have 160 yards to go so you hit it 158."

Good week: Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh
"Woods will be in the hunt all week. After a long rest his game is back where he wants it. The key to Singh's game is ball-striking. You don't have to be a great putter because the greens are big and flat. He'll make enough putts to stay in the hunt."

OLIVER HOLT - DAILY MIRROR

Winner: David Howell
"He's got the game for it - he's a strong driver and a great putter and putting will be at a premium here."

Good week: Phil Mickelson
"He's great around the greens and if he gets into trouble he can improvise."

DAVID FACEY - THE SUN

TOP CHOICES FOR A GOOD WEEK
1. Luke Donald (3 votes)
=2. Jose Maria Olazabal
(2 votes)
=2. Phil Mickelson (2 votes)
Winner: Tim Clark
"Very impressive second at the Masters. Lack of length won't be a problem. If there is bad weather he's a great scrambler. Possibly the best bad-weather player I've ever seen."

Good week: Jose Maria Olazabal
"Another good scrambler. They'll need a bit of imagination around this course and Ollie's got that."

BOBBY CLAMPETT - TURNER SPORTS

Winner: Too difficult to pick
"This is the most difficult venue in any major I've covered to pick a winner because the course is unpredictable and the weather is unpredictable. Woods, Mickelson and Singh won't have a distinct advantage. I wouldn't be surprised if a player from outside the top 50 wins."

Good week: A European/Tom Lehman, David Duval
"Wouldn't surprise me if a European won. They're due, and maybe Padraig Harrington has a strong chance. There's a premium on driving the ball in play, which brings in Lehman and a resurgent Duval."

GEOFF BARNES - WIRRAL GLOBE

Winner: Padraig Harrington
"He's got length off the tee and has the ability to force par from almost any situation."

Good week: Greg Owen
"He knows all about the British golf scene and has made a name for himself over in America too."

TONY ADAMSON - RADIO FIVE LIVE

Winner: Vijay Singh
"Has underperformed in the Open over the years and would love to add it to his collection. With his high ball-flight he won't find it such a problem here in the light winds."

Good week: Luke Donald or Jose Maria Olazabal
"For exactly the same reasons. They are very similar, very straight, they putt well and in these conditions should do well."

WAYNE GRADY - BBC SPORT COMMENTATOR

Winner: Luke Donald
"It's hard to look past Tiger, but anyone can pick him. Otherwise Donald. He's very solid and played well last week. This is a precision golf course - you've got to land in the right place and manoeuvre your ball."

Good week: Rod Pampling
"The Aussie's playing very well and he's got a bullet tee shot which is ideally suited."

YUTAKA HAGAWA - ASAHI TV

Winner: Geoff Ogilvy
"Mentally, he's really relaxed and playing well and if there's wind he could win."

Good week: Colin Montgomerie
"I really want Monty to win. This would be a great way to avenge his US Open disaster."

DOUGIE DONNELLY - BBC SPORT COMMENTATOR

Winner: Padraig Harrington
"Could be the year Europe's major drought ends and I take Harrington, if it's not going to be my old mate Monty. Padraig's coming into form at the right time, he's a good links golfer and can win if he holes a few putts."

Good week: Luke Donald
"Has the kind of game to do well here - straight and he putts well."


SEE ALSO
Ten of the best
18 Jul 06 |  Golf
Open tee-off times
18 Jul 06 |  Golf
The BBC at the Open
11 Jun 06 |  Golf


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