by Jeff Skinner
Sunday at The Open Championship…there are few days like it. And with one of the United Kingdom’s own holding a two stroke lead this final round will have an extra special feeling.
Forty year old Lee Westwood has been chasing his first major championship for the better part of two decades and his chances have never been better. His tee to green game has always been stellar and putting and the short game was here he struggled. But that’s not the case this week.
His new found putting routine has given him the confidence to go after every putt and so far this week he has had great success. He leads the field in one putts with 25 and has averaged just 1.5 putts per hole. That’s a formula we have rarely seen from Westwood.
Sunday will bring much pressure upon the shoulders of the Englishman who will try to bring England its first Open Championship since Nick Faldo in 1992. It won’t be any walk in the park as the leaderboard is filled with players looking to kick Westwood to the side and grab the Claret Jug.
Hunter Mahan sits two behind Westwood and is riding his hot round of three under on Saturday. He will tee off with Westwood in the final group. Mahan has been in pressure situations before and has had both failure and success. This will be his toughest test for sure.
Lurking in the penultimate group is Tiger Woods also two behind and desperately trying to break his string of poor weekend play at recent majors. 22 majors have passed since Woods won his last and he has never won a major while coming from behind. Paired with Woods is the 2013 Masters Champion Adam Scott who will be bringing Tiger’s ex-caddy, ex-friend Steve Williams along for the final eighteen. Scott is a classy player so there won’t be any issue there but Williams has been less than classy towards Woods and there has to be a bit of tension between the two. Scott’s Masters win has given him a new confidence and he certainly has a good chance sitting three back of Westwood.
Ryan Moore snuck up almost unnoticed into a tie for fifth with three players. Moore is another good young player looking for his first major and he’ll be paired with major winner Angel Cabrera who seems to be in contention only at the majors.
Former Masters winner Zach Johnson and Henrik Stenson are in the group tied at one over par and both had tough rounds on Saturday. But being only four strokes off the lead has them in fine shape.
Further down the leaderboard but still within six shots of Westwood are Francesco Molinari, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Brandt Snedeker, Jamie Donaldson, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
The Sunday weather looks to be a repeat of today, sunny, slight breeze and warm. The course won’t be any easier and the pressure of Sunday at a major will test the best of the best.
It will be a tough day for Westwood but the new and improved Lee may just have enough grit and sturdiness to finally land his first major.