Open experts' picks

October, 9, 2012
Each week of the season, our experts will share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories: Horse for the Course (a golfer who knows the track inside and out), Birdie Buster (a guy who could take it low this week), Super Sleeper (a player who could unexpectedly contend) and Winner.

This week's tournament: Open at CordeValle Rosewood Resort in San Martin, Ca.

Want another opinion? Check out's FOREcaster page.

Horse for the Course

Michael Collins, senior golf writer: Trevor Immelman
Yes, the pressure of being in the top 125 (he's 120th) is on his mind. And, yes, he missed the cut last week in Vegas. But he was coming off his longest made-cut streak of the year (four) and he's coming to a course where he shot four rounds under par, including a closing-round 66 last year.

Bob Harig, golf writer: Bud Cauley
The PGA Tour rookie seemed to like it here in his only appearance, finishing third last year to help him earn his PGA Tour card for 2012.

Kevin Maguire, senior golf editor: Billy Horschel
In the two previous years the Open has been held at Corde Valle, only Will MacKenzie has finished inside the top 15 both times (and he's not playing this week). So who might fit the mold for this track? How about Horschel, who tied for seventh in his first appearance last year and closed with a final-round 65?

Birdie Buster

Michael Collins: Bud Cauley
We haven't seen the young man for almost a month, last time being the BMW Championship. But it won't be an issue for this Fall Finish star. Last year he finished third here with four rounds in the 60s, and if he can hit 82 percent of his greens in regulation and average 29 putts per round, he'll again enjoy a top-five finish.

Bob Harig: Jonas Blixt
The Swede led after 54 holes in Las Vegas last week and has been making good progress during his rookie year.

Kevin Maguire: Luke Guthrie
Who said they have to be a PGA Tour birdie buster? With his 2013 PGA Tour card already secured by two Tour wins last month, Guthrie owns six top-10s in eight starts this year on the PGA Tour feeder circuit. Can he play with the big boys, though? In three starts in 2012 he finished T-19 (FedEx/St. Jude Classic), T-5 (John Deere Classic) and T-18 (True South Classic) -- so that's a yes.

Super Sleeper

Michael Collins: Nicolas Colsaerts
Now that the Ryder Cup hangover has subsided it's time for Colsaerts to secure his PGA Tour card. He's on a special temporary tour membership and after he overpowers this golf course (yes, he can overpower this course) to a top 10, you can probably expect to see him winning rookie of the year in 2013.

Bob Harig: Justin Leonard
The former British Open champ is struggling to keep his card, but he's familiar with the venue, having played the tournament the past three years.

Kevin Maguire: Patrick Cantlay
Before turning pro earlier this year prior to the Travelers Championship, Cantlay teed it up in the 2011 Open as an amateur and nearly matched Tiger Woods, Cantlay's round 1 and 2 playing partner. Cantlay shot 143 to Woods' 141. Cantlay ended up finishing T-67, but he's been playing better in recent weeks after cashing his biggest paycheck as a pro with a playoff loss in a Tour event two weeks ago.


Michael Collins: Vijay Singh
It's almost strange to think his last victory was in 2008 but it has been that long. Injuries have taken their toll on Vijay, but it seems he's finally healthy and playing consistently. His last missed cut was at the US Open and, although he only has four top 10s this year, three of them have come since the Open Championship. Welcome back to the winners circle, Mr. Singh!

Bob Harig: Ernie Els
The only player in the field who made it to the Tour Championship, Els hasn't finished top 25 since winning the Open Championship and he's coming all the way from Scotland. But he finished fourth last year.

Kevin Maguire: Kevin Chappell
The California native's best performance of 2012 came in the Golden State (T-10 in the U.S. Open at Olympic Club). The former NCAA champ at UCLA can lock up his 2013 playing privileges with a strong showing this week at Corde Valle.




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