Ten notable second-round stats that indicate how the Open Championship might unfold Saturday, provided by Golf World contributing writer Brett Avery, who compiles the Rank and File statistical sections for the magazine's coverage of the major championships and other significant events.
- Comparisons between midway leaders Brandt Snedeker and Sir Nick Faldo, and how they scored record-low 130s in Open Championships 20 years apart, are imprecise because of different layouts for Snedeker (Royal Lytham & St. Annes) and Faldo (Muirfield). That said, here goes:
-- Relation to par: Snedeker -10, Faldo -12
-- Eagles: Snedeker 0, Faldo 2 (including a 25-yard chip-in at No. 5 Thursday)
-- Birdies: Snedeker 10, Faldo 10
-- Bogeys: Snedeker 0, Faldo 2 (No. 1 Thursday, No. 7 Friday)
-- Lead: Snedeker by one over Adam Scott, Faldo by three over Gordon Brand Jr. and John Cook
Faldo's 130 broke the longstanding mark of 132 set by Henry Cotton in 1932 at Royal St. George's and tied by Faldo (67-65) and Greg Norman (66-66) in 1990 at St. Andrews. Faldo shot two-under 69 in the third round at Muirfield to total 199, tying his own 54-hole record from two years earlier at the Old Course. And his closing 73 gave him a one-shot victory over Cook (66-67-70-70), making only his third Open start -- but first in a dozen years. Faldo made it dramatic Sunday with bogeys at the 11th, 13th and 14th before birdies at the 15th and 17th. Those dropped shots cost him the honor of being the first man in Open history with four rounds in the 60s.
- Hints on how Snedeker will fare in the third round at Lytham might come from how he's recently handled the day after shooting an extremely low round. Since his disappointing tie for third in the 2008 Masters (69-68-70-77), where he played in the final group each of the last two days, Snedeker has shot 63 twice and 64 seven times in PGA Tour competitions. (Strangely enough, Snedeker's produced all those in first or second rounds.) Snedeker has backed up those 63s and 64s with a 68.667 next-round average. Those returns include a 65 (second round of the '10 Wyndham), three 67s, a 68 and two 69s. Then again, he's also rambled into the 70s twice in his last three opportunities, shooting a Saturday 72 at the '11 Deutsche Bank (T-3) and a Saturday 74 at this year's Farmers Insurance (won playoff).
Then again, this is the sixth time he's held the 36-hole lead in a PGA Tour event. He's wound up in the top 10 each time but they did not lead to any of his three career wins.
It's never too early to obsess about World Rankings at the Open. First, there's the not inconsequential fact that the last three winners rose from outside the top 30 (Stewart Cink 33rd, Louis Oosthuizen 54th, Darren Clarke 111th). Then there's the curve ball that the Open has a major-leading four champions from outside the top 100 since the rankings' first full season in 1987 (John Daly 109th, Paul Lawrie 159th, Ben Curtis 396th, Clarke).
--10 under: Snedeker is ranked 29th
--Nine under: Scott 13th
--Six under: Tiger Woods fourth
--Five under: Thorbjorn Olesen 112th
--Four under: Paul Lawrie 31st, Matt Kuchar eighth, Graeme McDowell 12th, Jason Dufner seventh
--Three under: Ernie Els 40th, Thomas Aiken 136th
--Two under: Steven Alker (a local qualifier) T-789th, Luke Donald first, Steve Stricker 14th, Jim Morrison 218th.
Speaking of rankings, Woods has won 11 of his majors as world No. 1. The exceptions were the 1997 Masters (13th), '99 PGA (second) and 2005 Masters (second). And in case the number 11 sounds magical: This was the 18th time Woods (67-67) broke par in each of the first two rounds at a major championship, but the first time since the '11 Masters (71-66, T-4). Of the first 17 occasions, Woods won 11 times.
The first time Adam Scott broke par in a major was in 2001 at Lytham, when he posted a 70 in the third round (par then was 71) en route to a tie for 47th. Saturdays, however, have given him problems of late in the game's biggest events. The Australian has broken par on only two of the last 17 third rounds, dating to the '08 U.S. Open (71 in'10 PGA, T-39; 67 in '11 Masters, T-2). And this marks the first time Scott will play in the last pairing on the weekend at a major.
Tom Watson made the cut on the number (three-over 143). It is the sixth time he's made the weekend in his last eight Opens. Watson's 63rd birthday is September 4. He extended his own record as the oldest competitor to make an Open cut. And, as if all that is not enough, in his last 10 weekend rounds at the Open he's averaged 71.700.
Looking forward a few years, as the game's epicenter shifts gradually from North America to far-flung points, Anirban Lahiri (68-72, T-28) and Jeev Milka Singh (70-71, T-40) became the first players from India to make the cut in an Open.
The field's scoring average Friday was 72.013, fractionally above the first round, and left the 36-hole average at 71.798. The third hole was the day's toughest (4.564, four birdies), followed by the sixth (4.410, five birdies), 15th (4.391, 10 birdies) and eighth (4.256, 12 birdies). The 13th was easiest (3.840, 42 birdies), followed by the 16th (3.859) and ninth (2.904). The field hit 65.5 percent of fairways, 60.4 percent of greens, took 29.52 putts and lost an average of 0.551 shots on every stroke out of the rough.
Last and, certainly the way he played, least is the case of Phil Mickelson (73-78), the No. 16 player in the world who tied for 146th in the 156-man field. His 151 matched his third-highest 36-hole total in a major (155 at Carnoustie in the '99 Open, 152 at Turnberry in the '94 Open, 151 at Oakmont in the '07 U.S. Open). It also meant Mickelson's eighth career missed cut in a major but his first since the '07 Open. The rankings of the players below him in the scoring summary: 1070th, 217th, 253rd, 1144th, 221st, 101st, T-1448th, T-1448th, T-1448th.
-- Brett Avery