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: Will the winner reach 20-under — and will it be Rory? Or will the winds and the inexperience of the 21-year old bring everything back to earth?
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group : Would be surprised to see anyone get to 20 under — that would break Tiger Woods’s record 269 in 2000. Thursday morning’s conditions were unusually benign. A little bit of wind and major championship pressure and scores soar. I could see McIlroy winning, and even par the rest of the way may be enough.
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: The winner won’t reach 20 under but it could certainly be Rory. He tends to be a very aggressive player and maybe a bit overly so, as Graeme McDowell alluded to at Pebble. But Rory is a smart guy. He’ll figure out the majors, maybe as soon as this weekend.
Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: St. Andrews is at the mercy of the weather and the players are at the mercy of their tee times. If Rory gets lucky with his tee time over the next few days and gets good weather, he could finish the Open at 25 under.
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: Rory played exceptionally well, under idyllic conditions, but that’s not what he’ll face over the next 54 holes. The combination of wind and pressure are going to increase the level of difficulty significantly. He may very well win, but I’ll be surprised if 20-under is reached. The only thing we can be sure of right now is that we’re about to learn a whole lot about Mr. McIlroy.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: This is one of those Opens in which the draw may be paramount. If Rory gets the milder weather Friday afternoon — as predicted — he could build a nice cushion and easily get two-thirds of the way to 20 under. But the weather is no sure thing, and neither is Rory. For all his talent, he’s only won twice as a pro. It’s far from over.
Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I see a nice, tidy 14-under par winning this thing. I’m not ready to hand Rory the trophy just yet, but he sure fits the criteria of genius and savant. We’ll soon find out if he fits the criteria of grinder — and of Open Champion at St. Andrews. As Alvaro Quiros might say, that is a heavy stone.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Let’s not get carried away with Rory or anyone else just yet. The morning guys had a cakewalk. Shooting a great round in zero conditions isn’t what the Open is all about. Shooting a great round in the wind and rain is a different game. Unless it’s dead calm for three more days — not likely to happen — 20 under isn’t in play. Lot of names on the board now you’ll have trouble finding after Saturday’s round. The real players will rise to the top. Might be Rory. Might be Tiger. We’ll see.
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Rory said all the right things after his round. That’s a good start. I’d take 15 under par right now and let everybody else shoot at it. And 12 under might just be good enough.