Sunday, July 19, 2015

Moving day at the British Open

The third round of the Open saw some major moves on the leaderboard. Some surprising and some not.

Jordan Spieth carded a 6 under 66 to move within one stroke of the lead. The Masters and US Open champ is knocking on the door for his third straight major win. It would surprise few if the soon to be 22 year old Texan actually pulled it off. The dude's got some serious game and pressure doesn't seem to faze him one bit.

Aussie Jason Day is tied for the lead with South African Louis Oosthuizen. No big surprise there. Both all well seasoned international players in their primes and ranked in the top ten in the world. The last time the Open was played at St. Andrews -- guess who won? Oosthuizen. Can't count either one of these guys out.

Somewhat surprisingly, or maybe not, Dustin Johnson had a poor back nine in the third round and ballooned to a score of 3 over 75 for the day. The leader after the first two rounds now finds himself 5 shots back. That's a bunch with only one round to go. Then again, maybe his collar got tight -- again. It was only a month ago he 3-putted from 12 feet on the 18th green at the US Open to choke it away. With a 75, DJ gave away a lot of strokes to a lot of players that were busy shooting in the mid 60s on moving day. One bad round plummeted him from 1st to 17th. He's likely out of it.

Many notables remain within striking range, some former major championship winners. Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Retief Goosen, and Adam Scott are all lurking within a few shots of the lead.

Yet the biggest surprise of all was that young lad from Ireland working his magic. No, not Rory McIlroy. He's still out rehabbing his soccer injury. This is another 21 year old golfing phenom from the land of shamrocks and leprechauns. Paul Dunne sits atop the leaderboard at 12 under par with Day and Oosthuizen. Three rounds of 69, 69, and 66 is pretty convincing stuff at a major championship playing against the best in the world on a tough course where weather conditions seem to often change, sometimes dramatically.

In a post-round interview, Dunne said he wasn't a bit surprised at how he played. It's like he expected it of himself. No shortage of confidence in this young man on a huge stage, and that's a good thing.

But a much more surprising thing is -- Dunne is an amateur. No amateur has won the British Open since Bobby Jones pulled it off way back in 1930, a very long time ago. True, though Jones is considered amongst the all-time greats -- he was a life-long amateur. He played for the love of the game rather than prize money, which there wasn't a whole lot of back in those days. The title and trophy were much more important. Sure, some players these days will say the same thing, but you won't see any of them donating their mega-buck winnings to charity either. A championship is nice, but a couple million bucks has a way of paying the bills for a while -- ya know?

Can Dunne maintain his composure during the final round of the Open and actually -- gasp -- win this thing? It will be tough staring down the likes of Spieth, Oosthuizen, Day, and the other top pros close behind as the pressure mounts during the final round. He wouldn't get the millions, but the trophy and title would be priceless. Dunne would make history. Imagine. An amateur winning the British Open. How big of a story would that be? The talking heads might get so worked up they'd spontaneously combust on the air. That would be pretty cool to watch as well.

The other guys (pros) in contention are all fine gentlemen and terrific players. Yours truly wishes them all well, and one of them will likely win it. Most are unlikely to fold, especially Spieth, as the tournament reaches its climax. Yet you never know.

But here's hoping Dunne goes out and shoots another 66. How interesting would THAT be?

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