British Open Preview

As the world’s best partake in their final practice rounds, THE SPORTS DISPENCER is ready to deliver who and what to watch for at Royal Lytham & St. Annes for this year’s Open Championship.

Odds

Tiger Woods 7.5 to 1 — After three wins this year, Woods has cemented frontrunner status.

Lee Westwood 14 to 1 — With countless top-five finishes, Great Britain’s own is still searching for his elusive first major.

Rory McIlroy 16 to 1 — After falling off the map at recent majors, can McIlroy return to championship form?

Luke Donald 14 to 1 — The world number one finds himself in the same boat as fellow Englishman Lee Westwood.

Padraig Harrington 16 to 1 — With two Open Championships under his belt, Harrington is always in the conversation.

Phil Mickelson 28 to 1 — Last year’s runner up hopes to improve upon his career best performance.

Justin Rose 30 to 1 — Grouped with perennial contenders Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia, Rose hopes to make some noise early.

Jim Furyk 50 to 1 — After a quality U.S. Open performance, Furyk hopes to carry his success to Royal Lytham

Bubba Watson 50 to 1 — Bubba has found little success across the pond, but this year’s Masters champ is hoping to turn it around.

The Field (Any Other Player) 2 to 1 — With fifteen different victors in the past fifteen major championships, “Lady Luck” sides with the field.

Notable Tee Times (All Times Eastern)

4:09 a.m.: Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Zach Johnson

4:20 a.m.: Lee Westwood, Yoshinori Fujimoto, Bubba Watson

4:31 a.m.: Dustin Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Hiroyuki Fujita

4:42 a.m.: Tiger Woods, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia

8:59 a.m.: Nicolas Colsaerts, Hunter Mahan, John Senden

9:21 a.m.: Rory McIlroy, Louis Oosthuizen, Keegan Bradley

9:32 a.m.: Rickie Fowler, Padraig Harrington, Manuel Trappel (A)

9:43 a.m.: Luke Donald, Phil Mickelson, Geoff Ogilvy

Prediction

Sand save ace Seve Ballesteros remains the only golfer to have walked away twice with the Claret Jug at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. This time around, Lee Westwood — ranked third on tour for sand save percentage — will survive the course’s 206 bunkers to earn his well-deserved first major win.

* Photos Courtesy of National Post, Bleacher Report, Washington Post

What do you think? Anything we missed? Who would you choose? Comment below and let the discussion begin.

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Sunday Sports Preview

Euro 2012 Final (ESPN 2:45 ET)

After weeks of competition, Euro 2012 is prepared to come to a climactic finish in Kiev. The final pits together Italy and Spain, the last two World Cup champions, in what is sure to be a competitive match. Ultimately, the game will likely be decided in the midfield, where Spain’s Xavi Hernandez and Italy’s Andrea Pirlo will fight to dictate the match’s pace and momentum. Prediction: Spain’s fierce defense keeps Balotelti quiet, beating Italy to notch a second straight Euro title.

AT&T National (CBS 3:00 ET)

Behind a four-under-par 67, Tiger Woods shot up the leaderboard to pull within one shot of 54-hole leader Brendan De Jonge. Joining Tiger at six-under are Seung-yul Noh and Bo Van Belt. With six golfers within three shots of the lead, Sunday’s clustered leaderboard will not disappoint. Prediction: With a third straight round in the sixties, Tiger Woods edges  Brendan De Jonge to gain his third win on the year.

X Games Enduro X Men’s Final (ESPN 10:45 ET)

The 2012 Summer X Games come to a close in Los Angeles. In the event’s final competition, the Staples Center will be transformed into a dynamic and challenging Enduro X course. Poland’s Taddy Blazusiak will look to repeat but faces fierce competition from several world-class motorcyclists. Prediction: Mike Brown, last year’s runner-up, finds his away to the top of the podium.

* Photos Courtesy of Bleacher Report, Motorcycle USA

What do you think? Anything we missed? Comment below and let the discussion begin.

Weekend Review

After a thrilling weekend in the world of sports, fans are beginning to recover from two days of constant remote flipping. Carpal tunnel aside, THE SPORTS DISPENCER is here to take a look at what we learned from this weekend’s action.

Flawed Finals Format

For a reason unbeknownst to many, the playoff game format switches once the NBA Finals are reached, varying from a 2-2-1-1-1 to a 2-3-2 setup. Instead of benefiting play, it detracts from it. Take this year for example. The Miami Heat split Oklahoma City’s first homestand one game a piece. With three straight road games, the Thunder faced the daunting task of winning in South Beach to keep the series alive. If David Stern opted for the prefered 2-2-1-1-1 format, Oklahoma City is gifted the home court advantage they rightfully earned, and Miami would be forced to win the series in front of Chesapeake Energy Arena’s raucous crowd.

The U.S. Open Returns to Form

After the world’s best lit up the scorecards in 2011 at Congressional, the 2012 U.S. Open returned to its previous gut-wrenching form. After four days of intense competition, Olympic Club gave us a winner. Webb Simpson emerged from a crowded field to take the tournament with a four-round score of one stroke over par.

Euro’s Team to Beat

Behind a consistently explosive offensive attack, Germany has emerged victorious from Euro 2012’s Group of Death. The Germans held steady, winning three of three. Gomez and Podolski anchored the front line with midfield support from world-class players Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Expect the heavily favored German squad to cruise to victory in their quarterfinal matchup against Greece.

Junior Ends the Drought

After a 143-race losing streak, fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. found victory lane in the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The 37-year-old driver finds himself second in the Sprint Cup Standings and a likely contender to earn his first ever Sprint Cup title.

What do you think? Anything we missed? Comment below and let the discussion begin.

* Photos Courtesy of Chicago Tribune, ESPN

Eye of the Tiger

With one swing of the club, Tiger Woods sent trembles throughout the golf world. Off the green on Muirfield’s par-3 16th, Woods was left with a near impossible shot. Tiger drilled the chip, tied the lead, and left golf great Jack Nicklaus stunned from the gallery.

When describing the shot, Nicklaus remarked, “The most unbelievable, gutsy shot I’ve ever seen. Look at the position he was in. If he’s short, the tournament is over. If he’s long, the tournament is over. He puts it in the hole.”

Tiger held on for the win. The Memorial was Tiger’s second on the season and his seventy-third career win, tying Nicklaus for the second-most all-time. Tiger trails Sam Snead by ten, but his primary focus remains on Jack’s career majors mark.

As the U.S. Open approaches, Woods, a fourteen-time major champion, has positioned himself as the man to beat, but the question remains — is Tiger back?

After his win at Bay Hill, Tiger earned frontrunner’s status at this year’s Masters before stumbling to a disappointing 40th place finish. Woods’ win at Bay Hill, however, lacked one key element — a Tiger-esque moment. His fist-pumping birdie at the 16th seems to be the first iconic Tiger moment since news of the scandal broke in November 2009.

Down the stretch, Tiger took control. He did not coast to a victory; he birdied three of the final four to take it. Woods’ 16th hole miracle was an instant reminder of the Tiger of the past and a preview of things to come.

What do you think? Anything we missed? Comment below and let the discussion begin.

* Photos Courtesy of NY Times, ESPN