Third Round Open Championship Thoughts 2012

I can’t resist the headline that every unimaginative news hack will use today and again tomorrow if Adam Scott pulls off an Open Championship win: Great Scott!

Adam Scott played as aggressively as Royal Lytham would allow, bombing shots with his driver to move from second to a four shot lead. Graeme McDowell also moved ahead, while Brandt Snedeker faltered.

Meanwhile, playing the careful strategy that won three other Open Championships, Tiger hit irons off the tee, opting to find fairway even if it meant long irons on the second shot. He’s playing in the next to last group Sunday, so that has worked to a point. However, if not for an heroic 40 foot putt in the third round and an unlikely bunker hole out in the second, Tiger’s strategy would not look as good.

An interesting question is whether Tiger will stick with his strategy now that he is several shots back. If he does, he is sticking to his tried and true path to victory: play steady golf on Sunday and let everyone else fall apart around you. Tiger’s rope a dope strategy has always reminded me of the Kipling poem:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you

I actually like the careful strategy for working a golf course. Amateurs would score much better if they would think their way around a course (as I argue in my book, The Five Inch Course: Thinking Your Way To Better Golf. Infinite patience is not, however, a solid strategy for winning from behind. If Scott, McDowell or any of the others ahead of Tiger can keep their heads, then Tiger has to change his stripes and play to win on Sunday rather than trying not to lose.

Remember: Tiger has never come from behind on Sunday to win a Major. Indeed he has won from behind only a couple of times in his career.

I’m guessing that Scott and McDowell don’t give Tiger the opening. And if that’s the case, Tiger will have to do something he has never done: go out and take a Major from someone else.

I think the smart money is on McDowell or Scott at this point.

And how about this pairing? Tom Watson and John Daly. I would pay money to see that. I hope television captures some of the play.

If Adam Scott wins this thing, I hope Steve Williams has the good sense to keep his mouth shut.

Adam Scott had better win this one. A recent news report says that golf’s governing bodies will ban the long putter.

For those who were wondering, the rule on water in the bunker is this: If you’re in casual water in the bunker, you get a free drop IN the bunker, but if you want to drop outside, it costs you a stroke.

From all accounts, we’re going to hear a lot more from Thorbjorn Olesen

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