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Player capsules for the British Open

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A capsule look at 20 top contenders in the British Open, to be played July 19-22 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes (listed in predicted order of finish):

LEE WESTWOOD

Age: 39.

Country: England.

World ranking: 3.

Worldwide wins: 38.

Majors: None.

At his best in 2012: Won the Masters twice _ Scandinavian and Indonesian.

At his worst in 2012: Staring up at a tree at Olympic Club, watching his U.S. Open hopes fade.

British Open moment: Fairway bunker shot that cleared the lip without an inch to spare on the 18th at Turnberry, a magnificent shot wasted when he three-putted to miss out on a playoff by one shot.

Pot bunker mentality: Equipped to bring England its first British Open title in England since Tony Jacklin in 1969 at Royal Lytham. He has the most top-3s (seven) of any player to have never won a major since 1934.

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LUKE DONALD

Age: 34.

Country: England.

World ranking: 1.

Worldwide wins: 11

Majors: None.

At his best in 2012: Winning at Wentworth to reclaim No. 1 for the third time this year.

At his worst in 2012: Missing the cut at the U.S. Open.

British Open moment: Only one top-10 in his career, a tie for fifth at Turnberry.

Pot bunker mentality: The second-most equipped player to bring England a British Open title on home soil. Has proven he is No. 1 in the world, though his major performance remains a major disappointment.

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HUNTER MAHAN

Age: 30.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 10.

Worldwide wins: 5.

Majors: None.

At his best in 2012: Beating Rory McIlroy in the final of the Match Play Championship in Arizona.

At his worst in 2012: Failing to break par in any round at the U.S. Open.

British Open moment: Closing with a 65 at Carnoustie in 2007.

Pot bunker mentality: A win would make him the front-runner for PGA Tour player of the year. Supremely gifted as a ball-striker, and slightly above-average length could make him well-suited for Royal Lytham. Will always have a reputation as a poor chipper until he wins a major _ or a key Ryder Cup point.

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IAN POULTER

Age: 36.

Country: England.

World ranking: 27.

Worldwide wins: 14.

Majors: None.

At his best in 2012: Five top-10s and has yet to miss a cut.

At his worst in 2012: If that's the nicest thing that can be said about him, it hasn't been much of a year.

British Open moment: Practicing his putting for so long in one spot at Royal Birkdale that he left two footprint-sized patches of dead grass.

Pot bunker mentality: The Open would seem to rank among his best chances because of a strong short game and a knack for getting the ball in the hole. Surely that palace he built at Lake Nona has room for a claret jug.

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TIGER WOODS

Age: 36.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 4.

Worldwide wins: 86.

Majors: Masters (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005), U.S. Open (2000, 2002, 2008), British Open (2000, 2005, 2006), PGA Championship (1999, 2000, 2006, 2007).

At his best in 2012: Won three tournaments.

At his worst in 2012: Failed to finish three tournaments _ two missed cuts, one WD in the final round.

British Open moment: Not hitting into a single bunker at St. Andrews when he won in 2000 by eight shots to complete the career Grand Slam.

Pot bunker mentality: Woods has somehow morphed into Phil Mickelson _ no one can predict what he's going to do next. Has not had a top-10 at the British Open since he won at Hoylake in 2006, though he has missed two years with physical ailments.

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BRANDEN GRACE

Age: 24.

Country: South Africa.

World ranking: 51.

Worldwide wins: 3.

Majors: None.

At his best in 2012: Won three times, tied with Tiger Woods for most worldwide.

At his worst in 2012: When he doesn't win, he has only finished in the top 10 one other time.

British Open moment: Opened with a 67 at Turnberry in his major championship debut at age 21.

Pot bunker mentality: Next to come out of the enlarged pipeline from South Africa. Hits the ball a long way, and has an experienced caddie (Zack Rasego, former looper for Louis Oosthuizen) at his side. This will be only his third major championship.

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PADRAIG HARRINGTON

Age: 41.

Country: Ireland.

World ranking: 60.

Worldwide wins: 15.

Majors: British Open (2007, 2008), PGA Championship (2008).

At his best in 2012: Had a chance to win the U.S. Open playing the 72nd hole.

At his worst in 2012: Missed three out of four cuts after the Masters.

British Open moment: Walking up the 18th fairway at Royal Birkdale in 2008, a moment he calls the best in all of golf.

Pot bunker mentality: His recent form has led some to wonder if the three-time major champion is on his way back. Made a good run at the Irish Open at Royal Portrush, and he's getting another dose of links-styled golf at the Scottish Open. He and Westwood are the only players to finish in the top 10 at both majors this year.

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STEVE STRICKER

Age: 45.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 13.

Worldwide wins: 12.

Majors: None.

At his best in 2012: Won the season opener in Kapalua despite twice losing large leads over the last two rounds.

At his worst in 2012: Missing the cut at The Players Championship, ending a streak that dated to the 2009 PGA Championship.

British Open moment: Playing in the final group with Sergio Garcia in 2007 at Carnoustie and missing one short putt after another.

Pot bunker mentality: The proverbial window is closing with every major that passes without Stricker winning, much less giving himself a chance. The worrisome thing is that his putter, of all clubs, is the one that has held him back. Open will be third straight start, after he added Greenbrier to his schedule.

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GEOFF OGILVY

Age: 35.

Country: Australia.

World ranking: 53.

Worldwide wins: 9.

Majors: U.S. Open (2006)

At his best in 2012: Remains the most insightful interview in golf.

At his worst in 2012: That his "best" is about what he says and not how he plays pretty much says it all. No top-10s in 14 starts.

British Open moment: A tie for fifth at St. Andrews in 2005, his lone top-10 in the Open.

Pot bunker mentality: There's not much to suggest he will get out of his rut at Royal Lytham, considering he has missed his last five cuts in the Open. He feels as though he has played well and can't post a reasonable score. Coming off a month holiday at home in Melbourne _ during the winter _ it could give him a fresh start. Can't hurt, anyway.

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GRAEME MCDOWELL

Age: 32.

Country: Northern Ireland

World ranking: 11.

Worldwide wins: 7.

Majors: U.S. Open (2010).

At his best in 2012: One putt away from forcing a playoff at the U.S. Open.

At his worst in 2012: A stretch in the spring when he missed the cut, was runner-up, missed two cuts and was runner-up.

British Open moment: Three shots out of the lead going into the weekend at Royal Birkdale and falling back with an 80.

Pot bunker mentality: He seems to have recovered from his post-2010 hangover and should be a factor in the next two majors, particularly at Royal Lytham. His driving can be a liability though, and there's an awful lot of bunkers at Lytham.

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ERNIE ELS

Age: 42.

Country: South Africa.

World ranking: 40.

Worldwide wins: 62.

Majors: U.S. Open (1994, 1997), British Open (2002).

At his best in 2012: Came within one shot of joining a sudden-death playoff at Innisbrook.

At his worst in 2012: Badly missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the 16th and a 4-foot par putt on the 18th at Innisbrook.

British Open moment: Saving par from a bunker on the 77th hole at Muirfield in 2002 to win his lone claret jug.

Pot bunker mentality: He can never be counted out on links golf, especially at Royal Lytham. He tied for second in 1996 and tied for third in 2001. The Big Easy got a big shot of confidence with a gallant run at the U.S. Open. A win puts him in distinguished company of players with multiple wins in U.S. and British Open _ Jones, Hagen, Nicklaus, Trevino, Woods.

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TOM LEHMAN

Age: 53.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 696.

Worldwide wins: 7.

Majors: British Open (1996).

At his best in 2012: Won a major on the Champions Tour.

At his worst in 2012: Has played only one PGA Tour event this year. In Mexico. Won by a 21-year-old rookie.

British Open moment: Winning at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 1996.

Pot bunker mentality: If a senior is going to rise to the occasion _ as Greg Norman did at Royal Birkdale and Tom Watson did at Turnberry _ the safe pick for the dark horse would be Lehman. He has made the cut in his last five trips to the Open.

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RORY MCILROY

Age: 23.

Country: Northern Ireland.

World ranking: 2.

Worldwide wins: 6.

Majors: U.S. Open (2011).

At his best in 2012: Won the Honda Classic to go to No. 1 in the world for the first time.

At his worst in 2012: Made big news just by making the cut at the Irish Open.

British Open moment: Telling reporters last year at Royal St. George's that he prefers conditions that are warm, sunny and without much wind.

Pot bunker mentality: For the No. 2 player in the world, his form has been mysterious of late. Had a chance to win at Quail Hollow, and since then has missed the cut in four out of six tournaments. Like the tide, that can turn without much notice. Remember, the kid shot 63 at St. Andrews at age 21. That wasn't an accident.

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PHIL MICKELSON

Age: 42.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 16.

Worldwide wins: 42.

Majors: Masters (2004, 2006, 2010), PGA Championship (2005).

At his best in 2012: Won at Pebble Beach with a 64 while playing with Tiger Woods.

At his worst in 2012: Cited "mental fatigue" (not to mention his irritation with managing the use of cellphones) in pulling out of the Memorial after one round.

British Open moment: Making a Sunday charge at Royal St. George's last year, only to miss a 3-foot putt on the 11th hole.

Pot bunker mentality: His performance last year was a surprise, because only once (Royal Troon in 2004) had Mickelson been much of a factor. He looks to be a veteran who is only concerned about the majors at this stage in his career. He could surprise again.

___

LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN

Age: 29.

Country: South Africa.

World ranking: 20.

Worldwide wins: 8.

Majors: British Open (2010).

At his best in 2012: One putt away from winning the Masters this year.

At his worst in 2012: Missed the cut at the U.S. Open.

British Open moment: Winning by seven shots at St. Andrews in 2010 for his first major.

Pot bunker mentality: Some might speculate that his runner-up finish at the Masters took a lot out of him. Doubtful. He possesses what many believe to be the best swing in golf. When he gets the putts rolling the right speed, he is dangerous anywhere.

___

JUSTIN ROSE

Age: 31.

Country: England.

World ranking: 9.

Worldwide wins: 10.

Majors: None.

At his best in 2012: Won his first World Golf Championship at Doral.

At his worst in 2012: Was not a factor in either of the first two majors of the year.

British Open moment: Chipping in on the 18th for birdie to tie for fourth at Royal Birkdale in 1998 at age 19.

Pot bunker mentality: The good news for Rose is that he has not missed a cut all year. Then again, he has had only given himself a serious chance in two tournaments. Make him the third-most equipped English player to end his country's drought of winning the Open on English soil.

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ROBERT ROCK

Age: 35.

Country: England.

World ranking: 59.

Worldwide wins: 2.

Majors: None.

At his best in 2012: Winning the Abu Dhabi Championship against the strongest field on the European Tour this year.

At his worst in 2012: Failing to finish in the top 10 in stroke play since winning at Abu Dhabi.

British Open moment: A 67-69 weekend, the best at St. Andrews in 2010, to tie for seventh.

Pot bunker mentality: He was tied for the lead with Tiger Woods, playing in the final group, and beat him to win the Abu Dhabi Championship. When something like that happens, the year rarely ends without a player doing something else special.

___

CHARL SCHWARTZEL

Age: 27.

Country: South Africa.

World ranking: 18.

Worldwide wins: 7.

Majors: Masters (2011).

At his best in 2012: Served a dinner that Masters champions were raving about.

At his worst in 2012: Has yet to play a round under par at the majors this year, and is a collective 18 over at the Masters and U.S. Open.

British Open moment: Two shots out of the lead going into the weekend last year and posting a 75 in the third round.

Pot bunker mentality: He is returning to how he was before he slipped on the green jacket. Very polished. Lots of talent. Doesn't really do anything memorable. To win two majors in his 20s would set him apart, though he needs to do something that will get people to take notice.

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JIM FURYK

Age: 42.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 32.

Worldwide wins: 19.

Majors: U.S. Open (2003).

At his best in 2012: Played in the final group at the U.S. Open and was tied for the lead with three holes to play.

At his worst in 2012: Snap-hooked a fairway metal into the trees on the 16th hole at Olympic for a bogey that knocked him out of the lead.

British Open moment: Began his Open career by making the cut five straight times, followed by five straight years of missing the cut.

Pot bunker mentality: His low ball flight might make him look like a good fit for links golf, but it's all about controlling the weight (distance) and making putts. Furyk has struggled in both those areas. Has the experience of playing Lytham twice, in 1996 and 2001.

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DARREN CLARKE

Age: 43.

Country: Northern Ireland.

World ranking: 84.

Worldwide wins: 17.

Majors: British Open (2011).

At his best in 2012: Got married.

At his worst in 2012: The Irish Open and Volvo Champions are the only tournaments he has made the cut when there was a cut.

British Open moment: Winning the claret jug when no one expected him to win a major, Clarke included.

Pot bunker mentality: He is listed strictly out of respect, although this has been one heck of a hangover in so many ways. And who can blame him? Clarke won the Open in his 20th attempt and became one of the more popular winners. He did have one of his better events at the Irish Open, so perhaps he will have a respectable title defense at Lytham.

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