by Jeff Skinner
The stage is set an exciting final round at The 141st Open Championship. An amazing leaderboard filled with big names, the impending windy weather and a course that just may show its teeth are aligning to give us a thrilling final to the season’s third major.
Adam Scott has a four stroke lead but if the wind blows off the Irish Sea as they are calling for that could disappear as quickly as a hooked drive into the unforgiving rough.
There are plenty of golfers that could step up to claim the Claret Jug but first they’ll need Scott to stumble a bit. The final three groups to tee off most likely will produce The Champion Golfer of the Year unless Armageddon happens at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
Ernie Els (-5) and Zach Johnson (-5) tee it up together and even though their games and body types are like night and day they both possess that much needed intangible that defines major champions: heart. Ernie has found a new vigor within himself and is desperate to claim another major. He says “something good is bound to happen.” No one gets more from their game than Zach Johnson. He can’t drive it 300 yards or hit a pitching wedge 180 but all he does his put himself in contention every week and beats guys who he has no business beating. He is this generation’s Corey Pavin.
Tiger Woods (-6) and Brandt Snedeker (-7) will play together again today and Brandt has to hope he’ll play better than his 73 in the third round. Snedeker played 40 holes before he made his first bogey but then the wheels fell off with six bogeys within ten holes. He thinks he’ll be able to bounce back but playing with Tiger is never easy. Tiger started the third round bogey-par-bogey but recovered to card an even par 70 but lost ground to leader Scott. Woods is hoping for some major wind to help bring Scott and the rest back towards him. But Woods will have to do something he has never done: come from behind to win a major.
Adam Scott (-11) and Graeme McDowell (-5) will face off in the final pairing. McDowell earned his way into the final group with a 67 on Saturday. McDowell was in the final pairing at the U.S. Open in June and with a U.S. Open on his resume he knows what it takes to win a major. GMac has two key ingredients that make a major champion: confidence and toughness. We’ve seen him win the U.S. Open, sink the winning Ryder Cup putt and take down Tiger head to head. He also has that poise and self-assurance that keeps him in control on the course. Adam Scott doesn’t have a major on his bio but he does have the 2004 Players Championship. He also has Tiger’s former coach, Tiger’s former caddie and some say Tiger’s old swing. He realizes the pressure that he’ll feel today but he knows that a four shot lead goes a long way. He said that if he plays a solid round of golf then it will be very hard for his followers to catch him. He also has something else to fall back on: right now he is playing the best golf of anyone at The Open.