Every morning this week, writers and editors from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine will address one pressing question about the U.S. Open in a daily version of PGA Tour Confidential, our weekly roundtable discussion.
Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Can Graeme McDowell hang on for the weekend, or is he another one of those early round major leaders who'll soon be confined to the dustbin of history? In other words, is this now Phil's Open to lose?
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: I wouldn't say it's Phil's to lose at this point. I like Phil, Ernie or Poulter to win. G-Mac is making a ton of birdies but is not battle-tested enough to weather the storm he's about to go through.
Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I like Graeme and he won recently in Europe but he's the rabbit in the marathon. This is Phil Mickelson's Open to lose. Paddy Harrington said he's never seen Phil play this well. He is putting beautifully and hitting the ball so far. That 5-iron on the 8th tee almost went over the cliff. Tomorrow he'll hit the six. And on Sunday, I suspect he'll win the Open.
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: I can't see McDowell holding off all the guys who are within five shots over the next 36 holes. McDowell is solid, but Phil's 66 was a statement. It was the kind of performance on a big stage that we've seen from Tiger for over a decade. It's Mickelson's Open.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: It was always Phil's to lose. Right now he's the best player in golf, and today he played the best round. Expect him to keep going on the weekend.
Charlie Hanger, executive editor, Golf.com: It's Phil's to lose, but unfortunately he's proven himself quite capable of doing just that at past U.S. Opens.
Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: Recent U.S. Open history suggests that the 36-hole leader is a good bet to cough it up. Phil has the mojo going, but I still wouldn't be surprised if Ernie, Dustin or Casey slipped past McDowell for the W.
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: Calling Dr. Stockton. Phil has it rolling. PM changed his putting routine Friday, and it made all the difference.
Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: Phil's still going to have to do it in the wind at least one day. You don't win the U.S. Open with your resume.
Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Definitely Phil's to lose, in the public's eyes and in the eyes of the players. Let the Slam talk begin.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Phil's to lose? Thirty guys can win this thing, maybe forty. Phil's no different from all the others within shouting range. Phil will do spectacular things, as he always does. But he really needs to go 36 holes without a blowup, and that's easier said than done for anybody at Pebble, and for Phil especially. We're getting breathless because of what Phil did at Augusta. I'd suggest we all take a deep breath and enjoy the thing. Phil will.