Open Championship Third Round Thoughts

I said it before, I’ll say it again: I love Open Championship. I love the courses, the style of play.

Lee Westwood looked like a champion today. Unfortunately, he has eighteen more holes to play.

The good news for Westwood is that the trend has recently been of first time winners. He probably leads the dubious category of best never to win a Major. Hunter Mahan and Ryan Moore wouldn’t be bad choices either.

Tiger has never come from behind to win a Major. To me, that’s an astonishing factoid. Sunday, he won’t even be in the final group. I will stick to my prediction of several years ago that Tiger is done winning majors. He may back into one or two when all about him collapse, but the days of his getting out in front and dominating the competition are over.

There are a lot of really good players in position to win this 2013 Open Championship. In fact, there isn’t a weak link within five of the lead: Westwood, Hunter Mahan, Woods, Adam Scott, Ryan Moore, Angel Cabrera, Zach Johnson, Henrick Stenson, Francesco Molinari, and Phil Mickelson. Any of those could win. I would even give an outside chance to several of the ones at three over, particularly Sergio Garcia, Brandt Snedeker and Jason Day. In an interview after the round, Phil said that he thought even par would win. If so, one of the three overs shooting three or four under could win. 

I still think Phil can win this one. He needs a little final round chaos, through which he successfully and calmly navigates. But that’s true of pretty much anyone.

Discouraging fact for those at +2. Of the last 110 champions, only six have come from outside the top five in the final round.

Good news for those at +2. Ernie Els won last year from six back.

Sean Foley has three players in the top five: Tiger, Westwood and Hunter Mahan. It’s an interesting fact but that sort of thing has to me always been a sort of chicken-or-the-egg question. If you’re coaching the best players in the world, wouldn’t you expect to have a bunch of them at the top. I could “coach” Tiger and he’d still win tournaments. And if Tiger won with me as coach, others would join my ludus. Then pretty soon, I’d have a couple of players in the top ten.

Hideki Matsuyama was penalized for slow play. Tiger’s group also was warned. But there is no way anyone would penalize The One for slow play.

Tiger has a new Nike Covert Tour prototype in his bag. Not that he’s used it.

I didn’t see. Was Ryan Moore wearing his True golf shoes? I like his sense of style. Hope he plays in a tie tomorrow.

Who was the most surprising player to miss the cut: Luke Donald? Justin Rose? Rickie Fowler?

Not surprised by Rickie Fowler, actually. And I don’t know anyone who realistically thought Rory McIlroy would make the cut. He is, in his own words, lost.

Great tweets from Dan Jenkins:

“Tiger has 2 chances to close deficit vs. Jack: win would get him within 3 of major win total, 2nd place would get him within 12 of Jack’s 19”

“Question: What do you have when you combine Ryan Moore’s beard with Miguel Angel Jimenez’s ponytail? Answer: An endangered species.”

“Rory McIlroy has a new part-time job: Mowing the rough at Muirfield with his golf clubs.”

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