Leading American golfer Matt Kuchar believes his fellow British Open competitors will have more to worry about than Rory McIlroy next week.
McIlroy has been installed as favourite to capture a second straight major after his commanding eight-stroke success in the US Open at Congressional.
And while many are predicting that the curly-haired Northern Irishman will get his hands on the gleaming Claret Jug, world No. 8 Kuchar is not so certain.
"Usually we are always looking to see where Tiger Woods is on the leaderboard but in going to Royal St. George's, I wouldn't say Rory is the benchmark," said Kuchar at Castle Stuart, where persistent rain caused major disruption at the Scottish Open.
"If you see Steve Stricker's name up there you know you are going to have your hands full. There's players like Ernie Els, who's won two British Opens, and Phil Mickelson, and guys like them who could very well be in contention.
"The British Open could throw up a guy who most people would not be familiar with but that all of us would then have to worry about.
"So I don't think you can go there next week just worrying about what Rory's going to be doing, it's much more wide open."
Kuchar will be competing in his seventh British Open since his debut, as the then U.S. Amateur champion, at Royal Birkdale in 1998.
He made the cut in an Open for the first time at St Andrews 12 months ago and went on to top last year's PGA money list.
He has been impressed by the efforts of McIlroy in returning to winning form some two months after his Masters meltdown.
"I am not a big follower of what all the news is in golf, so I don't know what people have been saying about Rory's US Open win," said Kuchar.
"But all I know is it was a fantastic win. He's an exciting player. He's got a huge amount of talent and to win a US Open in the manner he did is fantastic.
"Also it didn't take me by surprise that he bounced back as quickly as he did from what happened at Augusta.
"But then it was great to see him the following week going to play in Malaysia because straight away he was playing good golf again. So players who display that much talent, you know they are going to bounce back."
Kuchar carded rounds of 70 and 66 at the Scottish Open to be well-placed at eight under par and just three shots off the lead.
The tournament has been reduced to 54 holes and the delayed second round is not due to resume until 7pm local time, meaning Kuchar has been able to enjoy a Saturday off.
Source: AFP American Edition