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The No. 27-ranked Ian Poulter reserves his best form for Ryder Cups and a sore right wrist won’t help his chances this week. He did, however, get on a roll in the final round last year and tied for third with Westwood.

Paul Casey could be a dangerous outsider. He rolled in nine birdies during the final round of the Scottish Open last week to demonstrate that his links game is in good shape and has shown glimpses in the past two seasons of the form that took him to No. 3 in the world in 2009.

“Maybe I can fly under the radar a bit and pop up on the leaderboard on Sunday,” said Casey, who tied for third at the British Open at St. Andrews in 2010. “I have been playing some great stuff but the English in general have.”

“It is building up,” he said of the English challenge. “Justin will take the focus, as he should, being a major champion and recent winner. He has to be one of the favorites. But Poulter is always good for a punt at the Open. Lee as well. Luke is great at links golf.”

Hoylake enjoys big crowds — there were 230,000 over the four days when it hosted the event in 2006 — so English players won’t be short of backing this week.