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BlogWho will win at Hoylake on Sunday?

British Open

July 17 – 20, 2014

Royal Liverpool G.C.

Hoylake, England

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,312

Purse: $ 8 million

with $1,546,838 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Phil Mickelson

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

Things you need to know before Sunday’s final round:

So how good was the third round?

Have to say one thing to start it off.  Both the R&A and the USGA dodged major weather bullets during their championships.  Several times at Pinehurst some bad storms skirted the area, only to pass to the north or south by 20 to 50 miles.  On Friday evening, the R&A got one of those armageddon forecasts in which lightning would cause havoc in the afternoon.  So the R&A decided to move the tee times up, pair them into threes inside of twos and for the first time in 143 British Open’s, play off of both tees.  Now there were many snide remarks in the media room on how the weatherman got it wrong but it doesn’t matter as the third round is in the books.  Oh, that storm hit about a half hour after the final group finished, I have to think that the third round wouldn’t have finished if the times weren’t change.  The good news, the forecast is for a great day on Sunday.

In looking at the first three days, the big news has to be the play of Rory McIlroy.  He has always been a Jekyll and Hyde and you just don’t know what he is going to do.  As good of a talent McIlroy is, he hasn’t shown the same power of winning as Tiger Woods had in his mid-20s.  But for many he is pretty good and does have two majors under his belt.  When Rory shot 66 on Thursday, many in the media pointed out his Jekyll and Hyde fall in which his scoring average was 68.15 in 14 worldwide events in 2014 but 72.23 in the second round.  Hard to believe a four-hole swing from one round to another, but there was.  So when Rory shot 66 in the second round, many started to take him seriously.  Then what did Rory do to start out on Saturday?  Make a bogey at one and scramble over the next hole in which he needed a 8 footer to save par got him going.  He picked up his third birdie of the week on the par 5, fifth hole.  What could have been the most important hole of the day was the seventh, as a poor drive put him in deep rough.  He had to chop back into the fairway and pitched to 18 feet away.  He drained that putt and was able to keep things together, even though Rickie Fowler tied him momentarily with a birdie at 12.  McIlroy made only his third bogey of the week at 12, but when McIlroy hit the 14th tee, he was a shot ahead of Fowler.  But things would change over the course of the next hour.  While McIlroy played those holes in par, par and then an eagle at 16, Fowler made bogey at 14, 16 and 17 to fall back to 9 under par.  Garcia got it up to 10 under, but a bogey at 17 brought him back to 9 under.  So by the time McIlroy stepped to the 17th tee, he had a six-shot lead and could of just about put the whole tournament out of reach.  But he bogey 17 after a poor third shot but made up on that with another eagle at 18.  With his play on the final holes, he may of won the Open Championship.  He is at 16 under and leads Rickie Fowler by six and Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson by seven.  So it could be game point since nobody outside of Greg Norman has ever blown that kind of lead in a major.

What has made Rory so good?

A combination of making only 4 bogeys but his key is on the par 5s.  Just look at the chart below, and you can see why he has blown everyone away that is close to him:

  • Player                          Score          Score on Par 5s
  • Rory McIlroy                 -16                      -11
  • Rickie Fowler                -10                       -7
  • Sergio Garcia                 -9                        -5
  • Dustin Johnson              -9                        -4
  • Victor Dubuisson            -8                       -8

These are great numbers and just remember 2006, Tiger was 14 under on the par 5, the best in the British Open since stats were maintained in 1997.  So Rory could catch Tiger’s mark tomorrow, but the point is he has overpowered Hoylake’s long holes.

So can anyone catch him?

If you look at history as you will see below, no.  Since the Open went to 72 holes in 1892, eight times players have had six shot and better leads and every one of them have been won by the third-round leader.

  • 1900 – Harry Vardon led after three by 6, won by 8.
  • 1903 – Harry Vardon led after three by 7, won by 6.
  • 1908 – James Braid led after three by 6, won by 8.
  • 1934 – Henry Cotton led after three by 10, won by 5.
  • 1951 – Max Faulkner led after three by 6, won by 2.
  • 1964 – Tony Lema led after three by 7, won by 5.
  • 1996 – Tom Lehman led after three by 6, won by 2.
  • 2000 – Tiger Woods led after three by 6, won by 8.

But as we know from what happen to Greg Norman in the 1996 Masters, anything is possible.  One thing for Rory, he had been in this position before, at the 2011 U.S. Open he had a 9 shot lead shot 69 and won by 8.  At the 2012 PGA Championship he had a three-shot lead going into the final round, shot 66 and won by 8.

Now on the other end of things, Rory did have a four-shot lead going into the final round of the 2011 Masters and shot 80, finishing T-15th.

In a way, McIlroy is not as meticulous as Martin Kaymer, who you would trust your life with a six-shot lead.  McIlroy has a bit of Greg Norman and Arnold Palmer in him, and he will have to prove me wrong by winning this on Sunday.  If I were to gauge things, I would give Rory a 5 in 6 chance of winning, he will do the deed on Sunday.

If McIlroy falters, who could win?

If disaster hits Rory, the combination of Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson will probably be around to pick up the pieces.  Gosh, Sergio Garcia is playing his 64th major without a victory, he has been close many times wouldn’t it be weird to see him win this?  Rickie Fowler is such an explosive player, if we have great weather on Sunday he could shoot 64 and possibly sneak in there.  The same with Dustin Johnson, he is explosive and can shoot 64.  Other than these three, nobody else has a chance.

So what does Fowler have to favor him on Sunday?

He has made 18 birdies, more than anyone else.  He is also T-7th hitting 40 of 54 greens.  What favors him is his age, he doesn’t fear a big deficit and knows he is just a 64 away from a possible victory.  Fowler has to take advantage of Rory’s slow starts and has to come out making birdies early.

So what does Garcia have to favor him on Sunday?

The golfing Gods owes him one big time.  I think Garcia will be tough know he has to make up a seven-shot lead; he will come out playing for the pin.  I have always thought Sergio will win a major, but I think he will have to back into one.  So Sunday could present that for him.

So what does Johnson have to favor him on Sunday?

He can overpower a golf course.  Johnson showed us on Friday by shooting 65 that he has the game to go low at Hoylake.  Just like McIlroy, Johnson has made four bogeys all week, three of them came in consecutive holes on 7, 8 and 9 on Saturday.  Without those bogeys, Johnson would be close.  It also hasn’t helped him playing the par 5s in just four under.

What about Tiger?

He hasn’t shown us much.  I just wonder why he didn’t use the same plan he did in 2006 in limiting his driver.  Over the first 54 holes he has used his driver nine times and is 10 over on those holes.  Do I need to say anything else?

Tiger has made two doubles and two triples.  He just isn’t the same player he was before, and I am not talking about his game, I just don’t think he is thinking the same way.  The Tiger of old would make two doubles and two triples in his hey-day.

So is there an “Arnold Palmer 65” out there for Sunday?

That round in 1960 at Cherry Hills is the most iconic round in U.S. Open history and one of the best in championship golf.  Can someone do that tomorrow?  Yes.  Lot’s of rain will make a very wet and slow course.  But when we say can anyone shot 65 it could be Rory that does it, he is playing that well.  This isn’t the lock of the year like Kaymer’s victory was, but I think Rory is a lot wiser and smarter than he was at the 2011 Masters and will win.

Below is a list of the top-18 players on the leader board going to five under which is 11 shots back of Rory McIlroy:

Of the top-18 on the leaderboard, who is playing the best for the British Open

Player John Deere Scottish Open Greenbrier French Open Quicken Loans BMW Intern. Travelers Irish Open U.S. Open FedEx St. Jude Lyoness Open Memorial Nordea Masters
Justin Rose
(311.33 pts)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(50.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Graeme McDowell
(218.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP DNP T6
(40)
T28
(29.33)
T24
(17.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Rickie Fowler
(204.67 pts)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(133.33)
T13
(24.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Robert Karlsson
(182 pts)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP 4
(80)
DNP T22
(28)
DNP T44
(4)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(20)
Dustin Johnson
(138 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T31
(12.67)
DNP T4
(106.67)
T24
(17.33)
DNP T46
(1.33)
DNP
Sergio Garcia
(124.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T12
(38)
T2
(66.67)
DNP T35
(20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Marc Warren
(114.67 pts)
DNP 3
(90)
DNP T26
(24)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T29
(14)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Ryan Moore
(114.67 pts)
T7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP T48
(2.67)
DNP DNP T19
(10.33)
DNP
Adam Scott
(86.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T9
(60)
DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP
Matteo Manassero
(81.33 pts)
DNP T4
(80)
DNP T48
(2)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T32
(6)
Rory McIlroy
(77 pts)
DNP T14
(36)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T23
(36)
DNP DNP T15
(11.67)
DNP
Edoardo Molinari
(72.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T35
(15)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
Marc Leishman
(70.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP T11
(26)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Of the top-18 on the leaderboard, who is not playing the best for the British Open

Player John Deere Scottish Open Greenbrier French Open Quicken Loans BMW Intern. Travelers Irish Open U.S. Open FedEx St. Jude Lyoness Open Memorial Nordea Masters
Darren Clarke
(-30 pts)
DNP T59
(0)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T58
(0)
CUT
(-13.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Charl Schwartzel
(3.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
DNP
Victor Dubuisson
(54.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T48
(2)
DNP T57
(0)
DNP DNP T28
(29.33)
DNP DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
Jimmy Walker
(59 pts)
DNP T41
(9)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T9
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jim Furyk
(61 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T12
(50.67)
DNP DNP T19
(10.33)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

In Conclusion:

Again like the U.S. Open with Kaymer, we would have a great final round if Rory wasn’t playing.  Hoylake is really set up well like Pinehurst was, but I just can’t see anyone beating Rory.  One big thing in major championships, Rory could surpass a really big record on Sunday.  Right now he is at 16 under and just look at this list of the lowest scores in relation to par in a major:

  • 2000 British Open at St. Andrews                      Tiger Woods       19 under
  • 1990 British Open at St. Andrews                      Nick Faldo          18 under
  • 1997 Masters at Augusta                                   Tiger Woods       18 under
  • 2000 PGA Championship at Valhalla                  Tiger Woods      18 under
  • 2000 PGA Championship at Valhalla                  Bob May            18 under
  • 2006 British Open at Hoylake                            Tiger Woods       18 under
  • 2006 PGA Championship at Southern Hills       Tiger Woods       18 under

Rory could surpass and get to 20 under, a new milestone in the majors, if he shots 68 on Sunday.  Another thing Rory could do, he is 25 years old and a win will giving him three of the four majors.  He will join Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only 25 and under players to win three different majors and will be the biggest winner born in the United Kingdom since Tony Jacklin.  Now many will say he is English, due to being born in Northern Ireland, but he considers himself more Irish than English.  But it doesn’t matter, Rory will be a big hero in the British Islands if he can hold on to win on Sunday.

 

Who to watch for at the British Open

Bet the farm on him:

Rory McIlroy

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT T60 T25 T3 T47 T42

He goes from one of my worst picks to a sure thing for Sunday. He has played great and if he can get around in par on Sunday will win. He has done it with good putting, he has 28 one-putts which leads the field and on Saturday he made 8 putts in the five to 15 foot range. Just his play on the par 5s shows that Hoylake is a perfect place for him to win. Can he loss, doubtful.

Needs for Rory to get hit my a bus on Sunday:

Sergio Garcia

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T21 CUT T9 T14 T38 T51 2 T5 T5 CUT T10 T8

He needs a 65 or lower. Yes he is six back but Mickelson won with a 65 last year to make up a five shot deficit. I always thought that Garcia will only win a major by backing into it, so if he can get to the 16 tee at least six under for the day, he will have a great chance.

Rickie Fowler

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT T31 T5 T14

How frustrating this must be for him, second major in a row he is playing great but one person has played much better. Can Fowler do it, probably not. He worked his way into a tie with McIlroy and let it all go by playing back now the stretch. Bogeys at 14, 16 and 17 may of sealed his faith. One thing, with his T-5th at the Masters, his T-2nd at the U.S. Open and a high finish this week should be one of the favorites at the PGA Championship.

Dustin Johnson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T32 T9 T2 T14 CUT

He will not be able to sleep on Saturday when he see’s how well he has played on par 3s and par 4s, but has stumbled on the par 5s. This is the reason he is seven shots back and probably too far back to make a difference

Just a small heartbeat:

Victor Dubuisson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT

Sorry I just don’t think he has a 62 in him, that’s what it would realistically will take.

Adam Scott

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T3 2 T25 T27 CUT T16 T27 T8 T34 T42 CUT CUT

Another great performance in a major. Could be the most consistent of any other player that seems to be in the hunt in every major. Sorry he is too far back but could get a top-three.

Jim Furyk

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT T34 T48 CUT T34 T5 T12 4 CUT CUT CUT CUT

Just like with Adam, he is too far back but looking for a high finish.

Comments

  1. Ghillie Forrest says:

    Yikes, Sal: Rory IS British, as well as Irish. Under NO circumstances could he be considered English! His family could have a hit put on you for that — people have been kneecapped for less.

    Just to be clear: Northern Ireland is part of the British Isles. So are England, Scotland and Wales. I can assure you Monty or Marc Warren, and Ian Woosnam or Bradley Dredge, would not thank you for calling them English, any more than Rory, Darren Clarke or Graeme McDowell would.

  2. Ghillie, always nice to hear your “rants”. Have missed you.
    I am only writing what Rory has said, yes he was born and has an English passport but many from Northern Ireland also claim “duo” alliances to Ireland and England. Guess he is in a tough boat and trust me it’s his decision in 2016 if he plays for the English Olympic team or the Irish team.
    I am an American but also love my Italian heritage and sometimes state I am Italian. But I didn’t write what I did to bother anyone on if Rory is Irish or English. Guess that is what is so great on the European Tour, they are all considered “European.”

  3. Scott M says:

    Sal
    There’s no such thing as an English passport. Rory has a passport of the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’.

    There is no English Olympic team either. You would do well to check your facts before posting such rubbish.

  4. You guys are taking this way too seriously.
    All I said in the story is that Rory considers himself more Irish than English which he has stated on many occasion. “English passport” is a term just like “American Passport”, to be technical it’s a Passport of the “United States of America” But most folks understand the term English this and English that.

  5. Scott M says:

    Sal

    English passports just do not exist. They never have, so stop using the term and admit you got this wrong.

    Do Americans in Anchorage have Alsakan passports? Do Americans in Los Angeles have Californian passports?

    No, they both have US passports. Alaskan passports do not exist, Californian passports do not exist, English passports do not exist.

    A ‘British’ passport is the general, if incorrect term, for any citizen of Britain (Wales, Scotland and England) and Northern Ireland. McIlroy is therefore either ‘British’ or Northern Irish.

    He can represent the GB & NI Olympic team (‘Team GB’) or the Republic of Ireland Olympic team. As the Golfing Union of Ireland represents golfers from both the Republic and Northern Ireland, McIlroy felt loyalty to the organisation that gave him his start in international golf as both a junior and senior amateur golfer, and has chosen to represent Ireland at the 2016 Olympics.

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