FAVORITE — Phil Mickelson. It's his neck of the woods, he'll have the fan base, and frankly, Tiger Woods won't be 100 percent no matter what he says. Now, does Phil have the moxie to pull it off?
CONTENDERS — Eldrick T. Woods will always be in the conversation, and he'll need to post a definitive number in one of the first two rounds to show he's not affected by his bum knee. Sergio Garcia did wonders for his confidence by winning The Players and appears ready to make a "major" statement. Vijay Singh never seems to play well at Opens, but Torrey Pines is just up his alley: It favors bombers off the tee, and Vijay is one of the longest. Jim Furyk is not, but he plays well in Opens, and he can't be discounted. He is the last American-born player to win the Open (in 2003). Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 champ, is not a long hitter, either, but if it turns into a putting contest, Retief Goosen has the edge over anybody not named Woods.
DARK HORSES — An up-and-comer is Wachovia champ Anthony Kim, who has a little of the young Tiger in him (brash, but not cocky). And he got's game, to boot. Just a hunch, but he might be in one of the final groups on Sunday. Angel Cabrera will get props as the defending champion, but like Michael Campbell at Pinehurst in '05, he might be a one-shot wonder. Trevor Immelman, the Masters champion, lost in a playoff for the Stanford St. Jude title Sunday, and will be among the long shots.
CONNECTICUT CONNECTION — None, unless you count Met Section pro Mike Gilmore of Piping Rock on Long Island, who spent some time at Stanwich in Greenwich a few years back.