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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Well, I Wasn't Far Off...

As it was with Friday's post, some of my predictions for yesterday's round were spot on while others missed badly. Here's a quick refresher:
Today we'll probably see the top 10 or so jockey for position; I'm not sure what the score will be at the end of the day, but I expect to see Adam Scott leading. I don't think Sneds is going to play badly, but he's gotten awfully lucky with some of his tee shots and I don't see his luck holding up. It only takes one or two bad breaks in that rough to make par a great score. Unless Tiger's putter gets hot, I expect him to repeat his last two performances and finish at -8 or -9. Beyond that, I expect McDowell, Kuchar, and Dufner to get in the mix.
Clearly Tiger shot an even par round so I missed that one. Likewise, Kuchar and Dufner both went backwards. However, I was pretty much on target with the rest of my predictions, especially with Scott leading, Sneds falling back, and McDowell entering the fray.

Here's the update on my "5 to Watch":
  • Tiger Woods: -6, 4th
  • Rickie Fowler: +3, T43
  • Lee Westwood: +4, T54
  • Francesco Molinari: +2, T33
  • Zach Johnson: -5, T5
I take some consolation knowing that all of my picks (except Tiger) improved their positions from the 2nd to the 3rd round. Zach really proved my faith in him by surging back into the top 5, but I think he's too far back unless Adam stumbles.

As for today's final round, I'm going to use a phrase that I absolutely detest because most of the time I think it's an inaccurate cliche. That phrase is:
This is Adam Scott's tournament to win.
In this case, I believe it's impossible to say anything that's more accurate. Here's my reasoning: Scott is 4 shots ahead of McDowell and Sneds, 5 ahead of Tiger, and it gets worse from there. All Adam Scott has to do is shoot -2 today -- a 68 -- and both McDowell and Sneds will have to tie the course record just to force a playoff, while Tiger and all his other pursuers will have to break the course record. Granted, Sneds did that earlier this week... but doing it twice is a big ask. McDowell is certainly capable of it if he gets on a roll... but his best score this week is a 67. Again, a big ask.

Let me repeat: This is Adam's tournament to win IF he can manage to post a 68, which would tie his worst score this week.

If we get some wind -- and I won't be surprised, since Weather Channel is currently predicting 17mph winds gusting to 25mph -- I think it's a two-man race between Scott and McDowell, as both men are good wind players. Tiger's current strategy would probably have worked well had we seen wind all week, but I don't see him breaking the course record today with his current iron play; he's just not hitting it close enough to make a good run. (I don't believe that's going to last, but it's too late for this Open.)

As for the winner... gotta be Adam Scott. If Graeme was only 2 strokes back, I wouldn't be nearly so sure, but 4 strokes is too much unless Adam stumbles... and Adam isn't going to stumble.

Sports psychologist Steve Williams will earn his money today.

And if Adam does indeed get this major, I'll go out on a limb and say that the golf scene has seen its first major power shift (sorry, couldn't resist) since Tiger fell out of the OWGR's #1 spot.

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