Tiger ‘open’ for No. 10

Jun 14, 2005 6:34 AM

The U.S. Open golf at Pinehurst No, 2 and Wimbledon on grass. Oh, my allergies!

No matter, both tournaments favor the heavy hitter — and we’re not talking about that lawyer. Michelle Wie has a special invite into the Open, which is especially interesting considering her impressive second place finish in the McDonald’s LPGA behind Annika Sorenstam.

Whether the story becomes Big Wiesee will be uncovered later in the week. For now, it about Annika calling out Tiger with a friendly email that reporting said "9." That, of course, refers to the number of majors Annika has won. The same number as Tiger.

Tiger often says he likes a challenge. Well, now he’s got one from his golfing buddy. Sorenstam is halfway toward the women’s slam. Tiger can match that this week at famed Pinehurst and go one up in career majors with 10.

At 4-1 odds early in the week at the Las Vegas Hilton Superbook, there’s plenty of incentive to take Woods. He won the Masters and his game appears solid enough to take the second step forward.

Contenders? There are plenty. There are the usuals — Vijay, Ernie, Phil and Retief — but we’ll throw in some longer shots with value.

Davis Love III (30-1): Love knows North Carolina courses, having played for the Tar Heels golf team. He had a nice tournament last week at the Booz Allen and always plays well at Hilton Head, the plush South Carolina island that hosts the Heritage. Harbour Town has similar characteristics to Pinehurst and nobody plays the Heritage better than Love.

Luke Donald (20-1): We really like this English lad, so much that he just could be our favorite to win the British Open. Donald hasn’t won on the PGA Tour this season, but he’s been right there several times including last week.

Donald is similar in demeanor to Adam Scott, one of the rising international stars.

Kenny Perry (40-1): Another Southerner, who is a streak player. Perry won at Colonial a few weeks ago and will be very focused to capture his first major.

Ryan Moore (150-1): The ultimate longshot, but definitely worth a wager. Moore is the latest of the UNLV contingent of golfers that include Scott, Chad Campbell and Chris Riley. Moore was outstanding at the Masters and it wouldn’t surprise us if he contends here.

Wie: It will be tough for Michelle to make the cut here. Pinehurst No. 2 is a lot tougher than anything she has ever seen. But, her game continues to evolve. I don’t think she will make the cut, but I’d be more than willing to bet she’ll beat David Duval.

Crossing the Atlantic to Wimbledon, this is a serve and volley contest. That eliminates all the clay court specialists that rose to the surface at the French Open, except for the world’s top men’s player Roger Federer (2-3).

It would be highly unlikely that Federer will lose at the Big W. Andy Roddick will try and Marat Safin has the game, but Federer should roll to another title.

As for the women, we would favor Serena Williams if she were healthy and in top form. That hasn’t been the case for a few years and the 5-2 odds at the Plaza seem rather generous.

We think it will come down to Lindsay Davenport (11-1) and Justine Henin-Hardenne (5-1), who comes off the French Open title. The Belgian is healthy again and the fittest player on the circuit.

Davenport has the big serve and, at those odds, will get our money. Venus Williams is not the same player she was and should be 15-1 instead of 8-1.

Other contenders include last year’s Wimbledon women’s singles champ Maria Sharapova (3-1), Kim Clijsters (7-1) and French star Amelie Mauresmo (23-1). Jennifer Capriati (53-1) is our longshot.