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Assessing the amateurs' chances at the Open

SANDWICH, England -- Is the third time the charm for Peter Uihlein?

Playing his third major in 2011, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion has one last chance at taking home an extra bobble from a championship by virtue of being the field's low amateur. The British Open and Royal St. George's might not have been the most logical choice for Uihlein to accomplish the feat had you picked at the start of the year, but he can take solace in the fact that he only has four other golfers to contend with this week if he wants to stand next to Peter Dawson late Sunday at the prize ceremony.

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The biggest hurdle, then, is likely just making the cut. It's something Uihlein has done twice in PGA Tour events this year (in March at the Transitions Championship and two weeks ago at AT&T National) but failed to do at the Masters or the U.S. Open.

Interestingly, the last time that no amateur played all four rounds at the British Open was in 2003 -- at you guessed it -- Royal St. George's. That's not to say the course hasn't seen amateur success. In 1993, Iain Pyman shot a 281, the lowest 72-hole total by an amateur in Open Championship history.

Here's a look at this week's Fab Five and their odds (from worst to best) of playing four times at RSG:

Craig Hinton, 22, England
How he qualified: Medalist, Local Final qualifying (Royal Clinque Ports)
Odds of making the cut: 50-1
Skinny: Keeping healthy has been Hinton's biggest issue in recent years. In 2009 he took a trip to Spain only to fall ill and need to be rushed to the hospital, going blind for a short time. He eventually returned to England but needed eight months to recover. Earlier this year he traveled to Spain again for the Spanish Amateur in February, only to get sick again, this time being diagnosed with myopericarditis (and inflammation of the heart). Hinton only resumed playing golf in May, but came back to finish ninth at the Welsh Amateur then perform well in qualifying. Expecting too much more, however, would seem unwise.

Lucas Bjerregaard, 19, Denmark
How he qualified: 2010 European Amateur champion
Odds of making the cut: 40-1
Skinny: Hockey was the Dane's primary sport until taking up golf at 10. Bjerregaard has been one of the country's most highly regarded amateurs for some time now, having played in several of the country's Ecco Tour pro events, but plans to come to the U.S. and play at Florida State this fall as a freshman. He's a solid player, but will the specter of playing a major championship rankle his nerves?

Bryden Macpherson, 20, Australia
How he qualified: 2011 British Amateur champion
Odds of making the cut: 30-1
Skinny: Playing well in the match-play portion of the NCAA Championship for Georgia in June, Macpherson took that momentum to England and became only the second Aussie to win the British Amateur title, and the first since 1954. His match-play chops are solid, but how he'll play on the links in stroke play remains to be seen.

Peter Uihlein, 21, United States
How he qualified: 2010 U.S. Amateur champion
Odds of making the cut: 25-1
Skinny: The Oklahoma State All-American came over to the U.K. early, doing a little reconnaissance at Royal Aberdeen prior to this September's Walker Cup. Getting adjusted to the time change and to links golf should be a help, as does the fact that Uihlein had success at Chambers Bay last August on a course set up hard and fast like the one he'll play at Royal St. George's. Plus having played in two majors previously (the only amateur to have that experience) presumably will make the quest to play four rounds an easier one.

Tom Lewis, 20, England
How he qualified: Medalist at Final Local Qualifying (Rye GC)
Odds of making the cut: 20-1
Skinny: Lewis has a history at Royal St. George's, having won the 2009 British Boys title at the course. He also has been playing in top form of late, walking off with the St. Andrews Links Trophy last month before shooting a 63-65 at Rye CC to earn his spot in the field. Additionally, he'll be paired with Tom Watson the first two days, the good vibes having rubbed off well on Matteo Manassero when the two were paired in 2009 at Turnberry. The combination of the three makes him the favorite to claim low amateur honors.

-- Ryan Herrington

(Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images)


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July 28, 2014

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