Even more so than all other sports, golf is tough to predict. There are a million different variables to take into consideration, yet even the man who does the most thorough analysis almost always ends up being dead wrong.
Make no mistake, this will be the case with the 2011 British Open. And with the treachery of Royal St. George's about to be increased tenfold by Mother Nature's winds, actually picking a winner is an exercise that will probably be for naught.
Nevertheless, both the odds and the army of golf pundits agree that Luke Donald has as good a shot as anyone of capturing the Claret Jug this year. He is, after all, the No. 1 golfer in the world, and an Englishman like him should be well-equipped to tackle a tough links course like Royal St. George's.
Donald, however, is taking nothing for granted.
"It's a different set of circumstances, different grasses, different shots," said Donald of Royal St. George's, via ESPN. "You're having to manipulate the ball a lot more, really control it, and especially when you get [windy] conditions like we had, it's a challenge."
Despite Donald's cautiousness, there is one aspect of his game that could very well give him the advantage: his short game. Donald is widely considered to have the best, or one of the best, short games in all of professional golf, and that should give him a leg up during a tournament where the big hitters are regularly going to have their balls blown astray by the wind.
The wind will have an effect on the greens too, but Donald should be able to power through. He ranks in the top five in the PGA Tour in most putting statistics, including strokes gained and putting average.
To be sure, there are variables that are not in Donald's favor to go along with the ones that are. Despite his talents, Donald has a tendency to disappoint in majors, as he has only five top-10 finishes in his career, not to mention zero victories.
Still, Donald is nothing if not well-prepared. Prior to arriving at Royal St. George's, he was last seen winning the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart, another tough links course.
Add it all up, and his 11/1 odds of winning the tournament almost make Donald a can't-miss bet.
-Zachary D. Rymer