5 things you need to know entering the weekend at the Open Championship
We’ve made it to halftime at The Open. The 36-hole mark. We’ve got 36 more at Royal St. George’s (and maybe a playoff) before we crown a Champion Golfer of the Year. Moving day will be a big one in the chase to decide all of that.
Will Louis Oosthuizen actually get it done (and maybe win Player of the Year as a result)? Will Jordan Spieth add to his major total? Or will Collin Morikawa continue to not miss a single shot? Here are five things to know as we enter the weekend.
No one will run away with it
This is a good thing! Conditions are too calm, and Royal St. George’s is not set up difficult enough for one person to differentiate themselves. Think back to our last major championship blowout. It was at Pinehurst for Martin Kaymer’s win. He got out front early and played great golf to avoid bogeys. It was too much to ask for players to shoot a pair of 67s on the weekend there.
This course is different. There are a number of birdie holes and even a couple of eagle-able par-5s. The greens are super receptive, so hitting it tight is much more likely for the best players in the world. Louis Oosthuizen’s two-shot lead will probably be in tact when he tees off Saturday afternoon, but it’ll surely be a more packed leaderboard up top.
It’s an irons bonanza
This leaderboard is loaded with your favorite ball-striker’s favorite ball-strikers. The absolute best of the best irons players. Did you see those Morikawa highlights from the middle of the night? The guy hit everything inside five feet.
But have you been watching Spieth, too? He’s been hitting everything to 15 feet and rolling in a bunch of putts. Emiliano Grillo is at six under. He’s known for one thing and one thing only: brilliant iron play. Some of this bunched leaderboard is attributable to slower greens speeds on this links course. That makes life a bit easier on guys like Morikawa and Grillo who don’t putt all that well. But that’s what we’ll see this weekend as well. Strap in.
During every major our attention leaps to the top of the leaderboard, and with good reason. But it’s always worthwhile to peer down a little bit. Like I said, this is halftime. Halftime leads are blown in every sport. And the size of those leads will sometimes surprise you.
Dustin Johnson is just four shots back. He’s the No. 1 player in the world. Jon Rahm is just six shots back. He’s playing better than anyone. Brooks Koepka is tied with Rahm, just lurking. We know what he can do in major championships. One of those heavy hitters will make a run on Moving Day.
Some big names have the weekend off
As for those who missed the cut at Royal St. George’s, we have to start with the PGA champion, Phil Mickelson. Lefty made just three birdies all week (all of them Friday) and flamed out at a shocking 12 over. Yikes.
But he wasn’t alone. Matt Kuchar, Jason Day, Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Reed, Marc Leishman and Francesco Molinari all missed the 36-hole cut. The only question remains is how they’ll spend the weekend. Some of them, no doubt, have private jet reservations for a Sunday night departure. But that’s two days away.
History could be challenged
Scoring has been incredibly low this week, and the forecast isn’t going to make things anymore difficult for the field. If anything, the breeze seems like it’ll lay down on the weekend, making it an all-out aerial attack. Chances are, scoring records will be broken.
Henrik Stenson’s 20-under performance at Royal Troon in 2016 might be in danger. Oosthuizen just needs to repeat what he’s done thus far. The low scores at St. Andrews in 2015 might have a cousin for easiest scoring conditions in an Open ever. Here’s to hoping the course can bare some teeth this weekend.