124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

British Open: Five questions for Saturday

July 21, 2012

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- There's been plenty to talk about through two days at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. What are the burning questions entering Day 3? We take a look.

1. What's the weather forecast?

The third round began with sunny skies and virtually no wind giving this Open Saturday the feel of last week's John Deere Classic. Amazingly, this weather is supposed to hold -- at least for today, with isolated gusts of wind up to 15mph possible late in the afternoon. For players able to avoid Royal Lytham's 205 bunkers and thick rough, low scores should be very attainable.

2. What can we expect from Tiger Woods?

Woods was in contention at the last major championship before collapsing over the weekend at Olympic -- the first time he failed to close the deal when holding a lead at the 36-hole mark in a major. He may not lead this week, but with just two major-less names ahead of him, he's the odds-on-favorite to most heading into the final two rounds. Woods, who has three wins on the PGA Tour in his last eight starts, has been very conservative off the tee, ranking 73rd in driving distance (266.5 yards) among the 83 players who made the cut. That has allowed him to miss just two fairways through two days and has left him in a good spot on the leader board, but you have to wonder if he'll stick to that game plan if others around him are capitalizing on the easy scoring conditions.


3. Can Brandt Snedeker keep this up?

"Sneds" entered this event having missed the cut in all three of his previous British Opens and having never even broken par in a single round. However, the three-time PGA Tour winner has been flawless through two days to become the first player since Woods at the 2000 Open Championship to play a bogey-free first 36 holes at a major championship. The biggest reason for this turnaround is probably the lack of usual British Open conditions so far this week. Keeping a blemish off his card for a third-straight round seems unrealistic, but with another day of not having to battle the elements on tap, there's no reason to think Snedeker -- and his hot putter -- can't stay on top.

4. Who is the most dangerous player outside of the top three?

Jason Dufner has quietly been the most consistent player in the past four major championships. He nearly won the PGA Championship, was a co-leader through 36 holes at Augusta National, and played perhaps the best of anyone from tee to green at the U.S. Open. Amid all that, he also picked up his first two PGA Tour wins at the Zurich Classic and the Byron Nelson. Whereas his putter let him down at Olympic Club, it shouldn't be as much of a factor on Royal Lytham's softer, flatter greens.

5. Who the heck is Thorbjorn Olesen?!

For today, he'll simply be known by most as that guy playing with Tiger Woods in the second-to-last group. However, there's a good chance we'll hear more from the Dane, who plays on the European Tour and is currently 112th in the Official World Golf Ranking, in the future. Just 22 and already a winner of the Sicilian Open earlier this year, he fired a second-round 66 to move into solo fourth at five-under par. Perhaps more impressively, Olesen birdied 18 knowing he had to if he wanted to tee it up with his idol on Saturday. Careful what you wish for, young man. . .

-- Alex Myers