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Spieth? Johnson? McIlroy? Fowler? Picks to win the 2017 Open Championship

The 146th Open Championship tees off this week at Royal Birkdale, and as is always the case in golf these days, the tournament’s a wide-open affair. Gone are the days when you could pencil in the man in red-and-black for a guaranteed top-three finish; now anyone with a putter and a bit of courage has a shot. But these four have a better shot than most. Join us as we run through our Yahoo Sports picks for the Open. And if you win some money off these picks, kick us back a finder’s fee. We begin with a guy who ought to have won this tournament already …

Adam Scott. (Getty)

Adam Scott, the shoulda-been champ
He’s finished just about everywhere … hey, wake up! … he’s finished just about everywhere in the top 10 at (snobby voice) The Open but first. Sure he missed the cut at the U.S. Open, and it would be more fun watching Jon Rahm huck clubs around Birkdale en route to a Claret Jug, but I’m going with Scott. -Jay Hart

Rickie Fowler. (Getty)

Rickie Fowler, the BPNTHWAM
It’s finally time for the 28-year-old fan favorite to breakthrough in a major championship. Fowler is on a roll this year recording seven top-10s in the calendar year including a ninth-place finish at the Scottish Open last week. He has had success at The Open in the past with a T2 finish at Royal Liverpool in 2014. Look for the always brightly clad Ricky to contend in a serious way this week and get off the major championship schneid. -Vikram Bodas

Lee Westwood. (Getty)

Lee Westwood, the wily veteran
When Sergio Garcia won the Masters in April, the golf world didn’t hesitate in delivering the title of “best player to never win a major” directly to Rickie Fowler. But what about Lee Westwood, I asked? “He’s too old,” I was routinely told, “His window is closed.”

Months later, I still don’t buy it. The 44-year-old Englishman and former world No. 1 has nine top-3 major finishes under his belt — the most for any non-major winner — and I believe Westwood will hoist the Claret Jug before his career is over. The Open, of course, plays to the experience and patience exhibited by the older golfers in the tour. Eight of the last 10 winners have been over 35 with Darren Clarke, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson winning in their 40s for three straights years between 2011-13. If Tom Watson can make a run at last one major at the Open at the age of 59, Westwood can definitely do it at 44. A Westwood win would make it eight straight first-time major winners — and give Fowler the undisputed title that no golfer really wants to hold. -Kevin Kaduk

Jordan Spieth. (Getty)

Jordan Spieth, the favorite
Sure, this is chalk from the betting perspective; only Dustin Johnson gets the odds that Spieth does now. But Spieth is playing some of his best golf of the last two years right now, and he knows how to get around an Open venue, having nearly won in 2015. He hasn’t played in a month, a nice long break after a victory at the Travelers Championship, and so he’s rested and ready for what ought to be a strong performance. He’s the best bet to end the streak of seven straight first-time major winners we’ve got in play right now. –Jay Busbee

The action begins Thursday morning at 1:30 a.m. ET. Get that coffee and Red Bull lined up now.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.