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Michael Taylor 14th Jul 2009 - 20:55

Slick Stricker to be top US

If last year's Ryder Cup taught European Tour golf fans anything it was that the USA has an abundance of talent outside of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickleson, so we're now asking punters, who will finish this year's Open Championship as the top North American (Canada included) without Tiger Woods?

When you look down this market you cannot help but be impressed, as a mixture of Ryder Cup heroes, former Major champions and multiple Tour event winners allows for massive potential returns but a hard job in finding the right man.

So who does stand out from the conspicuous crowd?

My own personal choice has to be last week's John Deere Classic winner Steve Stricker who is available at an unbelievable 10/1.

The world number six just seems to have everything in place for good success this week with the most encouraging aspect for bettors being his ability to consistently scramble at the very highest level.

We've all heard about the tough Royal Turnberry venue with its narrow fairways, long rough and often tempestuous weather conditions, so an ability to make par from seemingly impossible situations cannot be underestimated.

So when you hear Stricker had a scrambling success of 100% over 72 holes at TPC Deere, you should realise it's a stat worth its weight in gold - in fact he is one of the few men that could actually teach his good friend Tiger a lesson.

He also proved with a respectable seventh at Birkdale last year that he's not like so many of his compatriots that run scared whenever faced with a links course.

While just 9 points between Woods and himself in the race for the FedEx Cup shows he has not only been the second best US player on the PGA Tour but the second best player full stop.

Despite all of this I don't expect it to be a walkover for Stricker with another unlikely to be intimated by the conditions, and one I'll be more than keeping an eye on, is 1997 Open winner Justin Leonard - a bargain in anyone's book at 25/1.

The gritty Texan has been one of the most consistent players on the Tour this year and had he been even a tiny bit more fortunate he could have three titles to his name already.

Fifth place finishes in the Mercedes-Benz Championship, World Golf Championships and Valero Texas Open could have been so much better but a similar performance at Turnberry will make 25s look enormous.

There is no reason he can't challenge either. He's above average in drive accuracy, putts per round and has enough tenacity and concentration to maintain a challenge throughout four rounds of major championships.

All of which are similar traits to what my final tip has, 18/1 shot David Toms.

Toms may have let me down in last week's John Deere where he failed to make the cut but I still believe he's in good enough form to maintain a threat throughout this week.

He's been around long enough for me to tell you where his strength lies however his accuracy from the tee has been immense this year and is the driving force behind his resurgence.

You know he won't be hitting 300+ yard drives but if he stays within the fairways then he should be in with as good a chance as anybody of landing himself at the top of the leaderboard.

One thing that is for sure is The 138th Open Championship will provide us with four days of enthralling golf. So why not have a bet with William Hill to make your viewing even more entertaining?

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