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Friday, July 20, 2012

A Few Surprises

Well, the first round of the Open gave us a few surprises... starting with decent weather! First, let me put up the scores of my "5 to Watch":
  • Tiger Woods: -3, T6
  • Rickie Fowler: +1, T54
  • Lee Westwood: +3, T99
  • Francesco Molinari: -1, T22
  • Zach Johnson: -5, T2
Currently the cut is projected at +1, although we know that will probably change today. But given that Zach was one of my two favorites, his good play was especially satisfying to watch.

There were 3 big shocks for me in the first round. Of course, I expected more from my other favorite, Lee Westwood. He'll need a really good round today if he even hopes to make the cut. Funny thing -- I thought his comment after the round that he didn't feel as if he had any control over the ball was something everybody could relate to!

I was also shocked by Justin Rose's poor performance -- at +4 he was even worse than Westwood. Given his play this year, I didn't expect that at all.

But I may have been even more shocked by the good play of Bubba Watson. That he had learned so much from Tiger and Phil in 2 days at the U.S. Open AND had successfully figured out a way to use it so soon was amazing to me. Granted, he had good weather in which to play, but that hasn't helped him in the past. If he can maintain the good attitude he had Thursday, I think he's got a good chance this week.

We saw a lot of firsts Thursday as well -- Adam Scott's best score and first-ever lead in a major, and best scores by both Paul Lawrie and Zach. Sneds made a good showing in his comeback from injury, and several other struggling players posted good numbers. Luke Donald even managed to post an even par opening round! But what should we expect today?

Well, as I'm writing this, Weather Channel says it's 99% humidity in Lancashire. Today they predict 50% chance of rain with 78% humidity, 61 degrees F, 6mph wind. In other words, it's going to be sloppy and uncomfortable! I think that's going to thin the herd a bit.

I don't know how Adam will do, but I won't be surprised if he does well. While he's not used to having the lead, his caddy is and I suspect Steve Williams will keep him calm.

Look for the past major winners to move up the leaderboard and the number of players under par to decrease. A full 36 players were under par after Thursday's round; if the weather does turn, I'd expect that number to drop to maybe 25 by day's end. And depending on the weather, I'm looking for the lead to be -8 or less.

And while Zach's still my favorite, watch for moves by Paul Lawrie, Ernie Els, and Graeme McDowell in that order. Lawrie was awfully impressive on the back 9 Thursday.

Now if Mother Nature will just surprise us with a little weather!

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