The field at the 2012 British Open has been playing collectively better than many expected it to.
ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski wrote the following regarding the over stellar play in the first round: "Adam Scott is 6 under. After the first round. I thought 5 or 6 under was going to win the Open Championship, not be the low score on Thursday."
The British Open is supposed to be no joke. Golfers are supposed to be bombarded by terrible conditions through every round, but it was nothing but sunny skies in Round 1.
Friday is expected to be a bit dreary, but it appears as though Saturday and Sunday will bring nothing but sun and a smattering of clouds(via Weather.com).
We have 13 men at three-under or better, all within three strokes of leader Adam Scott. Some of those golfers will hang around, others will fall back into the shadows of irrelevance.
A select few will make a weekend charge and shoot to the upper ranks of the leaderboard among the best in the sport. Here are three such golfers.
Bubba Watson finds himself at three-under, tied with seven other players for the sixth spot after one round of play. He played well, but could have been better.
Through the first 18 holes, Watson's drives finished up over 10 years shorter (306) than his season average (316.33). He's not putting as well as he usually does, either, taking nearly half a putt more to find the cup.
Fortunately for Watson, he's still in great shape despite his minor miscues in Round 1. The weather will be on his side this weekend, too.
Watson is a rather inaccurate driver by PGA Tour standards, and bad weather at the Royal Lytham and St. Annes golf club would have hurt him, but he'll be aided by the relatively decent weather.
If Watson were to miss the fairway on a wet, nasty day in Lancashire, he would have had a doozy of a time hacking the ball out of the thick stuff. Now, though, thanks to the forecast, he has a little bit more room for error off the tee.
He's had one of the best years out of anybody on the entire tour. With five top-five finishes, Watson has been as steady as a golfer can be. There's no reason to doubt Watson's ability to make a run this weekend.
This may not turn out so well, but I'm thinking that we're going to see the good Rory McIlroy this weekend as opposed to the U.S. Open McIlroy, the Memorial Tournament McIlroy, the Players Championship McIlroy and any other bad McIlroy you can think of.
There has been plenty of bad to go with the good for McIlroy this year, especially lately. Since finishing in the top five in four of the first five tournaments this year, he's missed 3-of-4 cuts.
McIlroy is three-under after Thursday's round despite some extremely inconsistent play. He posted six birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey, and still finds himself within striking distance of Scott.
The 23-year-old form Northern Ireland is going to swing his season back in the right direction by the time the weekend is through, and don't be surprised if this tournament comes down to the wire with McIlroy as one of the main competitors.
I know, I know—the master of the obvious is picking Tiger Woods to make a run this weekend at a major championship.
Based on his season so far, I'm not exactly going out on a limb by picking Woods to shoot up the leaderboard and win this tournament, but when you look as his recent performances in majors, things get interesting.
He hasn't won any of the last 12 major championships that he has played in since the start of the 2009 season, and has missed the top-20 in five of the last six. Well documented, I know, but true nonetheless.
Which of these three has the best chance at winning?
At the very least, we know Woods is going to be around for the majority of the tournament after his adequate outing on Thursday. When Woods falls flat in the opening round, you can bet on the fact that he's not going to win, but when he gets off to a solid start, there's no telling what he can do.
I really believe that the 2012 British Open is where Tiger turns his major championship luck around and finally gets back to the top of the world. If I had to make a pick, I'd say Woods will be hoisting the Claret Jug when all is said and done on Sunday.