Top 25 Open rankings: Weather looms large over predictions

SOUTHPORT, England -- Time for you to enjoy the bane of my existence -- The Open Top 25. Why do I call it that? Because 90 percent of the time, Mother Nature decides who gets to be in the best position to win. I'm writing this from the media center here at Royal Birkdale, and right outside there are very few clouds, and it's about 74 degrees Fahrenheit with a 10 mph breeze. No chance it stays like this, but I can dream, right?

Just once, I want Mother Nature to mind her own business so my top-25 list can be perfect! Enjoy.

25. Jeunghun Wang -- Because his caddie has the greatest hat in golf, and I have one. It travels around and gets photos taken with random people like a gnome!

24. Rory McIlroy -- Coming off two missed cuts and with talk of his being "content," Rory will prove the doubters wrong. It might not be a win or even contention, but there will be a flash of the Rory we know can dominate.

23. Pat Perez -- Talk about a guy who's not afraid to shut it down! After the U.S. Open, Perez went on a 2½-week European vacation with his wife and dog. Don't knock it, though; he's missed only two cuts in the current season.

22. Thomas Pieters -- The "Belgium Bomber" missed the cut at the U.S. Open, but that won't happen here. This is a guy you should expect to see on many Ryder Cups in the next 10 years. Conservative play this week bodes well for Pieters.

21. Branden Grace -- Grace has not done anything spectacular this year, but he's missed only one cut (the Arnold Palmer Invitational) and had to withdraw from the Honda Classic. Outside of that, he's been consistent. There's something to be said for that, knowing the weather conditions he's faced and will face this week.

20. Louis Oosthuizen -- Good, solid golf from a guy who has won this event before. That's what you see when you look back at Oosty's play this year. The last cut he missed was actually this event last year. That's not happening this week.

19. Sergio Garcia -- This one was tough. Sergio finished T-2 at the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship a few weeks ago. I think if he gets the good part of the draw, he could contend to win. I put him here expecting Mother Nature to come at him.

18. Bill Haas -- After three MCs in a row earlier in the year, Haas found something going into Colonial. Whatever it was is still working. I saw his caddie at the airport Sunday (also getting off a red-eye), excited to be here. That's a good sign to me.

17. Ian Poulter -- It seems as if playing with a little chip on his shoulder is working brilliantly for Poulter. Having to play his way into everything is fueling a fire that we haven't seen for a while, and it looks good. Thank goodness it's not a Ryder Cup year.

16. Zach Johnson -- That whole "get over to The Open early" thing -- Zach ruined it for everyone with his 2015 victory. He again comes straight from the John Deere Classic with a game that should do well at Royal Birkdale.

15. Hideki Matsuyama -- This might seem like a low spot for the world No. 2 player, but he hasn't played particularly well in this major. His debut at The Open in 2013 was his best finish in the event at T-6. I believe this year, he'll have his second-best finish.

14. Tommy Fleetwood -- This man is on a run. His past four tournaments: T-10, 1, T-6, 4. I'd say he's primed for a solid finish at this year's Open. The fear is that the run is on the downside instead of the upside.

13. Shane Lowry -- If I said a few months ago the highest-finishing Irishman would be Lowry, I'd have been thrown out of the biz. Now it seems like the right call.

12. Adam Scott -- I'm looking for Scott to give himself a chance going into the weekend. I think when he and Steve Williams have two weeks in a row together (Steve was on the bag last week at the Scottish Open), they have a much better connection, which will be reflected in the results.

11. Justin Rose -- While he did miss the cut at the U.S. Open, I believe that was an anomaly. I spied Rose and his wife congratulating Roger Federer after Federer's victory at Wimbledon. Inspiration? I'd say so.

10. Jason Day -- The man is, after all, the sixth-ranked player in the world and a former No. 1. Yes, the back-to-back MCs are disconcerting, but Day is one to quickly work out swing issues. This will be a nice return to form.

9. Patrick Reed -- Even though he missed the cut last week at the Scottish Open, his time spent adjusting to the climate and time zone will pay off. I think the MC works in his favor, leaving Reed better rested while hungry to perform up to his standards.

8. Paul Casey -- Remember last year when Casey could have won the FedEx Cup without winning a tournament? Well, that same guy is rounding into that same form again.

7. Matt Kuchar -- Kuch has found a groove in his past five tournaments, finishing no worse than 16th while throwing in three top-10s. Don't be shocked if he's in contention Sunday.

6. Dustin Johnson -- I believe his past two MCs were related to fatherhood and the birth of baby No. 2. Now that the stress of that is out of the way, that guy we've seen dominate on the course will be back contending again.

5. Rickie Fowler -- Expect Fowler's major winless streak to come to an end next month. But he'll be close this week, matching his finish at the U.S. Open. Even the marshals this week dress like Fowler -- all orange.

4. Brooks Koepka -- We haven't seen him since his U.S. Open victory. I'm pretty sure he hasn't forgotten how to play golf. Now he's well rested and hungry for his second major title.

3. Rafa Cabrera Bello -- Last week's champion in Scotland has momentum, and that great play will continue this week. That's a testament to his swing and how in shape he keeps his body and mind.

2. Jon Rahm -- Coming off a win in Ireland two weeks ago, Rahm is doing exactly what Phil Mickelson predicted a year ago: becoming one of the top five golfers in the world.

1. Jordan Spieth -- After his win at Travelers, it's easy to see Spieth back in the form that brought him so close to this title a couple of years ago. It will be three majors down for his career, with the PGA Championship to go.