Looking at Potential Sleepers for The 2013 Open Championship

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The 2013 Open Championship

Leo Mason-USA Today

Four years ago, a 59-year-old man walked to the 18th tee with a one-stroke lead in the final round of The Open Championship. A year later, an unheralded South African golfer, who was ranked 54th in the world and had previously only made one cut in a major championship won The Open by seven strokes on the Old Course at St. Andrew's. A decade ago, a 26-year-old American from Northeast Ohio captured The Open Championship.

Now, it should be noted that Tom Watson lost that Open four years ago in a playoff to Stewart Cink. Also for every Louis Oosthuizen and Ben Curtis, there are more than a few Tiger Woods, Nick Faldos and even Watson, himself, legendary players with multiple wins in golf's oldest major championship. Oosthuizen, Curtis, Todd Hamilton, Paul Lawrie and others tell us that upstarts can and do win The Open. Arguably, last year's winner, Ernie Els, was an upstart of sorts, as many believed The Big Easy's best years were behind him. Watson, in 2009, and Greg Norman, who played in the final group with eventual winner Padraig Harrington in 2008, tell us that players in their 50s can contend.

And while many fans tune in hoping to see the game's biggest stars like Woods, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson, history tells us there is a good chance a Hamilton, Lawrie or Curtis may be lifting the Claret Jug come Sunday.

So, who might the dark horse this year be?

Today, we will take a look at some of the potential dark horses in this year's field.

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#5 Thomas Bjorn

Bjorn and Woods
Allan Henry-US Presswire

The 42-year-old Dane, who endured a heartbreaking loss in The 2003 Open, is back in form after spending a few years battling a nagging neck injury. Bjorn also played well last time The Open was a Muirfield, finishing tied for eighth.

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#4 Fred Couples

The Open Championship
Brian Spurlock-USA Today

Couples typically plays well across the pond, as he has recorded nine top-10 finishes in The Open. Last year, he won the Senior Open Championship. And although Couples is 53, and has been battling chronic back pain for years, we all know Boom Boom has the potential to go low.

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#3 Jordan Spieth

The Open Championship
Allan Henry-USA Today Sports

The 19-year-old Texan punched his ticket to Muirfield with his recent win at The John Deere Classic. We know Spieth, a two-time Junior Amateur Champion, and former Big 12 Player of the Year at Texas, has game. Will it translate into a shock Open Championship?

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#2 Branden Grace

The Open Championship
Jack Gruber-USA Today

The 25-year-old South African already has six professional wins. Plus, he comes into muirfield with momentum after losing the Scottish Open to Phil Mickelson in playoff. And how can any Open Championship preview looking at potential dark horses not include a South African?

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#1 Thorbjorn Olesen

Kyle Terada - USA TODAY Sports

At 23, the Dane already boasts six worldwide wins, and is ranked 39th in the world. Olesen also recorded top-10 finishes in both The Masters and U.S. Open.