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Most of our experts think that Tiger Woods will be the one smiling come Sunday evening at Carnoustie. (Photo: Getty Images)
Most of our experts think that Tiger Woods will be the one smiling come Sunday evening at Carnoustie. (Photo: Getty Images) Expert Picks: Guess who?

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Who will win the 136th Open Championship at Carnoustie? Who could surprise us all and walk away with the coveted Claret Jug? No one knows for sure, but our panel of experts have an idea and they've put their picks in writing.

T.J. Auclair, Interactive Producer

Winner: Tiger Woods
I'm putting all my quid on Tiger becoming the first player since Peter Thomson to win three Open Championships in succession from 1954-56. Tiger might not "own" this major, but he's pretty darn close. He has six top-10s in 12 starts, highlighted by three wins and four top-10s in the last four years. Also, Carnoustie would be a special place for Tiger to win. The first time he ever played links golf was in 1995 and the two courses he played were St. Andrews and Carnoustie.

Sleeper: Davis Love III
This has been far from a memorable season for Love. He has just two top-10s in 16 starts and has missed the cut in each of his last three starts. Along with that, he's missed the cut in the last two Open Championships. So why do I like him this week? Davis is hit or miss at the Open. When he does well at the Open, it's great, as evidenced by his five top-10s in the last decade. When the Open was here in 1999, Love finished in a tie for seventh. Look for him to turn his season around at a place where he's played well in the past.

Brett Avery, The Fantasy Insider, Contributor

Winner: Tiger Woods
What, there's another guy who has a shot at dominating this field?

Sleeper: Ian Poulter
Would've considered him penny candy a month ago during his nasty MC-DQ-T36-MC stretch across five weeks, from the BMW PGA Championship through the BMW International Open on the PGA European Tour (it swallowed up the Memorial and U.S. Open, too). But he's much crisper with solo ninth in the Open de France and tie for eighth in last Barclays Scottish Open. He'll draw plenty of British support, especially by living up to his European numbers for fairways hit (70.1 percent, ranked 14th) and greens in regulation (72.6 percent, 19th). Plus he'd fit into a Zach Johnson-Angel Cabrera run of major winners outside the World Ranking top 30 (he's 31st).

Lauren Deason, Editorial Coordinator

Winner: Tiger Woods
Let's start with the stats. The two-time defending champion is the all-time leading money winner at the British Open and has made the cut in all 12 of his starts, his longest current streak in a major. Woods has finished in the top-10 for four straight years and, if he wins his third straight, will be the first player since Peter Thomson (1954-56) to do so. Yes, Woods has so many records and will likely set so many more, but winning what he says is his favorite major would mean a lot to him and prove that the new daddy hasn't gone soft.

Sleeper: Chris DiMarco
The runner-up in last year's Open Championship, DiMarco was just three strokes shy of winning his first major. Granted, he had Tiger Woods standing in his way, but DiMarco - whose mother had passed away earlier that month - battled through his emotions and nearly earned a win. DiMarco also set the course record at Royal Liverpool in the second round with a 65, safely making his fifth British Open cut in seven starts.

Melanie Hauser, Correspondent

Winner: Tiger Woods
Until further notice, he's the major choice. This time around, Sam's dad is going for his third consecutive Open Championship and first major as a father. The latter may seem like we're reaching for milestones, but at this point there's just not much left. Other than 18 majors -- it's not if, but when -- looming in the distance. Seriously, though, the guy has been right there in the last two majors and played the Open wondering if he would finish before Elin delivered. Carnoustie/Carnasty, diaper rash and colic are nothing after that.

Sleeper: Jerry Kelly
Once again, rules don't permit obvious choices like David Toms, Steve Stricker, Scott Verplank or Justin Leonard, so the dart lands squarely on the Cheesehead. Don't laugh, either. He finished in the top nine at both the Masters and the U.S. Open. Yes, he's entertaining and a bit mercurial, but don't dismiss him. He's got game and can hang with the nasty weather crowd. It's going to depend on the bounces.

Dave Lagarde, Correspondent

Winner: Tiger Woods
First, Zach Johnson at the Masters, then Angel Cabrera at Oakmont. Now it's time for the big dog, or more precisely, the Big Cat to have his turn. It's difficult to pick against Tiger Woods in this spot, especially the way he carved out an emotional victory in the 2006 Open Championship. He's got all the shots required and if he needs something new he'll reach into his bag of tricks and pull it out. He improves six places on his tie for seventh at Carnasty in 1999.

Sleeper: Boo Weekley
Imagine the most famous resident of Jay, Fla., aw-shucking his way to hoisting the Claret Jug. I reckon it can happen because Weekley has the ability to bore holes in the wind with his shots. And at Carnoustie, it's shot-making more than putting, Weekley's Achilles heel, that counts.

Helen Ross, Chief of Correspondents

Winner: Ernie Els
Once again, I want to be different. But I'm not going out too far on a limb here in picking Ernie Els. Since the turn of the century, the affable South African has one win, two seconds and two thirds, including last year. He's coming off a solo third at the Barclays Scottish Open, too, where he shot a 65 on Sunday. It's time for the Big Easy to get back into the winner's circle and this would be the perfect place.

Sleeper: Sean O'Hair
He had to get a passport virtually overnight in 2004 when he played in his first Open Championship. The young American made a whirlwind trip to Scotland after winning the John Deere Classic that year and went on to tie for 15th at St. Andrews. He followed that with a share of 14th last year at Royal Liverpool. Can a top-10 be far behind?

Dave Shedloski, Senior Correspondent

Winner: Tiger Woods
Paul Lawrie aside, Carnoustie is a place for players with pedigree ... Cotton, Player, Armour, Watson, Hogan. Yeah, Woods fits the profile, and he is going for three in a row in the Open Championship, which hasn't been done too often -- the last time by Peter Thomson in the 1950s! Tiger likes to write himself into golf's historical narrative as much as he likes his privacy. A tie for sixth in the '99 debacle only cements the notion that he can be meaner than Car-nasty.

Sleeper: Davis Love III
A veteran of Love's stature should have another major on his record, and he's got the reputation and name to meet the Carnoustie History Standard, as we might call it. His five top-10 finishes at the British Open came during an eight-year spurt ending in 2004 when he didn't place worse than 21st. He was joint seventh in his last trip to Carnoustie, obviously proving he has the patience to handle the hardest layouts. A great story is waiting to unfold. Can Love finally conquer all at the Open?

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