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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Meanwhile, at the Halfway Point...

So, during the first two rounds, Muirfield proved she can be just as dreadful when it's pleasant as she can be when it's nasty. The freezing monsoon of 2002 gave way to the concrete jungle of 2013... and players found themselves sweating. I certainly can't root for the golf course... she's been a bit of a bitch the two times I've seen her!

Did anybody really expect this leaderboard? There are 9 major winners within 4 shots of the lead and a ponytailed 49-year-old leading the field. The fairways stimp out at a higher speed than the greens. And this baby is wide open!

In a rare tour de force, all 5 of my picks made the cut. Granted, neither Fred Couples nor Graeme McDowell is likely to win unless there is a MASSIVE collapse from the leaders but at least they made the cut.

At +1 both Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth still have decent chances to win. Conditions over the weekend are predicted to be about the same as Friday, so players will have a chance to adapt. Even if the R&A decides to soften the greens a bit or use easier pins (and really, do we expect that? Really?) it's unlikely that we'll see any deep scoring. I'll be surprised if the winner goes deeper than -6, and I'm thinking it'll be closer to the -3 where the Mechanic currently sits.

Despite having picked Tiger, Phil, and Jordan as likely winners beforehand, I have to like Lee Westwood and Miguel Angel Jimenez to get it done. Being 4 shots back is a lot in these conditions -- especially with the caliber of players at -1 and -2 -- so I believe Phil and Jordan have only outside chances now.

As for Tiger, he has yet to prove he can play well over the weekend at a major since his comeback, plus he's never won from behind at a major. I certainly don't see any reason this couldn't become his first time... but he's still got to do it.

On the other hand, the Mechanic has nothing to lose and Westwood is putting better than I can ever remember. I like the fact that both are playing freely, without a lot of technical things in their heads. (Westwood has been working on his full swing with Sean Foley, but Foley says it's just been alignment and posture -- not technique. Likewise, although Lee's been working with Ian Baker-Finch on his putting, IBF says Lee figured his main problem out all by himself. He was gripping too tightly.)

So who wins? If Tiger wins, everybody will say I went chalk. If Phil or Jordan wins, I'll look like a genius...

But I suspect things will turn out differently. My heart says the Mechanic becomes the oldest major champion ever, but my head says Lee Westwood will finally get it done.

Given the leaderboard, I suspect I'll be satisfied no matter what happens. At least SOMEBODY will find a way to beat Muirfield this weekend!

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