Five outsiders to look out for at the Open Championship

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Tiger Woods is in the pack marked "outsiders" this week at the Open.
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Marc Leishman
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Updated 18 July 2018
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Five outsiders to look out for at the Open Championship

It would be all too easy to pick Dustin Johnston, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth as likely winners, but we are going to pick five outsiders who we think have what it takes to lift the famous Claret Jug at Carnoustie on Sunday evening...

MARC LEISHMAN

The Australian has been knocking on the door of a Major win for some time now and has the game to succeed on the famous course — three top-six finishes in his past four Opens proves that. He is not in the best of form, but do not be surprised to see his name near the top of the leaderboard.


 

CHRIS WOOD

Began his Open career with two top-fives in his first two starts. That was 10 years ago but the tall 30-year- old knows how to play links golf and a recent second-paced finish at the French Open suggests he is in good form. Finished tied for 14th at Royal Birkdale last year and knows Carnoustie well.



TIGER WOODS

It may seem strange to see the best golfer ever bracketed with the “outsiders” but that is exactly what he is. Without an Open win since 2006, and a Major since 2008, Woods is on the comeback trail, but still outside the world’s top 50. He will know how to plot his way around the course and is definitely one to watch.



BRANDEN GRACE

Has five top-six finishes 
in Majors 
in the past three and half years and two top-five finishes in his past four tournaments. Those stats suggest he could contend at Carnoustie. Add to that the fact his low ball flight is perfect for links golf and it is clear that the South African is a contender.



TYRELL HATTON

The Englishman has twice won the Dunhill Links, where Carnoustie is one of the three courses used, so will know how to get around the fabled course. He was not in the best of form recently — four missed cuts in five starts — but since then has recorded three top 20s and will fancy his chances. Scotland.

 


Petra Kvitova positive ahead of Dubai final against Belinda Bencic

Updated 22 February 2019
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Petra Kvitova positive ahead of Dubai final against Belinda Bencic

  • World No. 4 wins third three-setter of the week beat Hsieh Su-wei and claim place in the final.
  • Swiss star Bencic deals a forehand smash to Svitolina's chances of unprecedented hat-trick.

LONDON: If Petra Kvitova does get her hands on the Dubai trophy against Belinda Bencic on Saturday, she will be quick to admit she did it the hard way.
The two-time Wimbledon champion was once again made to toil at the Aviation Club as she finally overcame Hsieh Su-Wei 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. It was her third three-setter in four days and came about as much through sheer grit and determination as any superior groundstrokes or serves.
“Yeah, it was (tough),” the Czech said.
“It was a tough one, for sure. She really didn’t give me anything for free.
“It was a tough first set. I’m glad that I was able to came back in the second. Anyway I didn’t play great at the end of the first.”
Coming into the event the world No. 4 admitted she was undercooked and in need of some game time. While, in hindsight, the three-setters against Katerina Siniakova and Jennifer Brady in the first two rounds probably did her some good, another match that went the distance was probably not in the ideal script for the 2013 Dubai champion.
But Hsieh is a tricky opponent and she proved it once again on Centre Court. The world No. 31 hits two-handed shots off both sides and was trying to beat her fourth top-10 seed of the week. That included wins over Angelique Kerber in the third round and Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals.

Bencic will try to upset Kvitova in Saturday's final at the Aviation Club (AFP) 


She started off in much the same vein as she had finished against Kerber and Pliskova, hurrying Kvitova around the court and making life as uncomfortable as possible under the hot Dubai sun.
“She’s very tricky,” Kvitova said about Hsieh, who grabbed five games in a row to take the opening set and go up 1-0 in the second.
“I didn’t really play the best at the end of the first set. But I calmed down afterwards a little bit,” Kvitova said.
“With Hsieh, I need to be a little bit patient. ... It’s not really that easy to make those winners against her.”
While she has 
not consistently displayed her A-game this week it should come as no shock that Kvitova has made today’s final. It was the second seed’s 17th victory of 2019 — a feat bettered by no one — and it will be her third final of the season and 35th of her career. She revealed that her presence in the showdown is thanks to her mental toughness and she admitted that after a long week she will have to draw on that a lot today.
“I think I’m pleased with my kind of mental focus after losing the first set, that I was more calmer when I came back and played from the beginning of the second set,” Kvitova said.
“I still kind of felt that I can do that somehow — it was something weird.
“I’m a bit tired right now, to be honest. I have a final, so I don’t know how I going to recover. Hopefully I have a few hours to do something with me.”
Of her sparkling form so far this year she said: “It’s a bit weird, to be honest. I didn’t really expect anything like that. Well, to be honest, I didn’t expect anything, which I already achieved this year. For me, everything is just bonus.
“As I mentioned, the tennis, it’s a bit like escape this week. This is unbelievable to be in the final when I’m escaping from something. Yeah, very interesting.”
In the other semifinal Bencic once again upset the odds to overcome world No. 6 Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-3, 7-6. The Swiss went into the clash as the underdog, but from the off the world No. 45 was aggressive and deservedly won.
In doing so she ended Svitolina’s 12-match winning streak in Dubai and ended the two-time defending champion’s hopes of becoming the first woman to win three Dubai titles in a row.