British Open Confidential: How many players in the field can still win?

British Open Confidential: How many players in the field can still win?

Phil Mickelson made three birdies, four bogeys and an eagle on Friday.
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Every day this week, writers and editors from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine will address one pressing question about the British Open in a daily version of PGA Tour Confidential, our weekly roundtable discussion.

Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Saturday’s forecast calls for tamer conditions early and wind picking up as the day goes on. Can players like Phil Mickelson at even par get enough of an advantage to shoot themselves back into it? Or have the 20 or so players at 4-under or better separated themselves from the pack?

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Any of the players in red numbers have a chance, since the lead is really 6 under. (Calc and Oosy will be long gone come Sunday night.)

Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: If you can go low early, with a 63 or 64, anyone who made the cut can get into contention. Doubt if Mickelson will do so, though. The British Open is simply not his major.

Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: The winner is going to come out of the very large group at five under.

David Dusek, deputy editor, Last night we were asked if Rory McIlroy could reach 20-under par and look what happened to him. 63-80! And if we learned anything today, anything at all, it’s that trying to accurately predict what the wind and the rain are going to do here in Scotland is impossible. So, even with a nice lead heading into Saturday, each player who makes the cut has a legitimate shot at putting himself in contention if the wind blows in the afternoon.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: Phil has been off throughout the bag, but anyone can have a hot round and get back into it in a hurry. That assumes Oostie comes back down to earth, which is probably not assuming too much. We saw Dustin Johnson give back six shots in three holes, or about 45 minutes, at Pebble.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Anyone who made the cut is still in it. Amazing how far a pair of 65s will go in a major championship on the weekend. The hard part, of course, is shooting them. Especially if you’re the new guy who’s starting with an uncomfortably big lead.

Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: The variable weather — it’s pouring rain, it’s dry, it’s balmy, it’s cold, it’s sunny, it’s gray, it’s still, it’s gusting — means no one is out of it, but 12 shots is 12 shots. Englishman Steven Tiley is in a nice spot at 6-under with 8 holes of his second round to play in what could be much more favorable conditions Saturday morning.

You can stick a fork in Phil.

Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: This is a golf course that can yield birdies and eagles, but you have to catch her just right, if I can give a nod to Tom Watson. If the conditions stay miserable, 40-footers for birdie and 10-footers for par will be the norm this weekend. Tough to make up ground in that kind of envirnoment. I don’t know what scores are still in this thing, but if Rory McIlroy can shoot
80, Lodewicus Theodorus Oosthuizen can, too.