5 burning questions after the second round of the British Open at Royal Birkdale

July 21, 2017

Two rounds of the British Open are in the books, but plenty of history remains unwritten. As we head toward the weekend, here are the five questions weighing most heavily on our minds.

1. Will anything gum up his work?

Only seven golfers have won wire-to-wire at the British Open, most recently Rory McIlroy in 2014. Jordan Spieth can become the 8th. Will the gum-chewing youngster stay atop the leaderboard this weekend? And if so, how long until he inks a Wrigley’s endorsement deal?

2. Another Open for Koepka?

Speaking of short lists, only six golfers have captured both the U.S. Open and the British Open in the same year. And only Lee Trevino capped off that achievement at Royal Birkdale, where he claimed the Claret Jug in 1971. Brooks Koepka, who made it look so easy at Erin Hills last month, is right in the thick of it heading toward the weekend. Can he repeat Trevino’s epic feat?

3. A British win for an Englishman?

Ian Poulter is rightly known as a match play killer, but in stroke play, not so much. His best finish in a British Open is a tie for third in 2013, but he missed the cut in his last two Open appearances. History is also working against him. It’s been 48 years since an Englishman won the claret jug on home soil (Tony Jacklin in 1969). Is the streaky Poulter the man to finally end that streak?

4. The ‘Best Player to Finally Win a Major?’

Thanks to the likes of Lee Westwood, Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama, Matt Kuchar has escaped the dreaded label of Best Player to Never Win a Major. Somehow, he always seems to be in the mix at majors without calling great attention to himself. This time, however, there’s no avoiding the spotlight. Kuchar will tee off Saturday in the final group, in second place behind Jordan Spieth. Does Kuchar have the stuff to be a cold-eyed closer? Or is he more comfortable just hanging around?

5. Has the worst blown through?

We all like to watch the world’s best work hard for their money. We got that chance on Friday when foul weather got the measure of most of the field. The weekend forecast calls for rain but softer breezes, which should yield lower scoring, but forecasts can be fickle. Will the winds pick up? Or will the course lay down?