After two rounds at the 2012 British Open, we're starting to get a clearer picture of who is a legitimate contender this year and who is not.
After the first round on Thursday, there were five big names I focused on: Adam Scott, Tiger Woods, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson.
Of those five, McIlroy and Watson predictably faltered today (based on their driving accuracy this season).
That leaves Scott, Woods and McDowell in the top 10.
|1. Brandt Snedeker||-10||36|
|2. Adam Scott||-9||36|
|3. Tiger Woods||-6||36|
|4. Thorbjorn Olesen||-5||36|
|T5. Paul Lawrie||-4||36|
|T5. Matt Kuchar||-4||36|
|T5. Graeme McDowell||-4||36|
|T5. Jason Dufner||-4||36|
|T5. Thomas Aiken||-4||36|
|10. Ernie Els||-3||36|
Now let's check out the games of each of my top three contenders, this season and at the British Open.
Headed into the 2012 British Open, Adam Scott had almost everything going for him except driving accuracy. He ranked 113th on the PGA Tour in that category, per PGATour.com.
Now Scott, who finished eighth at the Masters and 15th at the U.S. Open, has put everything together at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Scott has hit an uncharacteristic 21 of 28 fairways thus far (75 percent). The field average is 64.1 percent. I thought he would slow down in the second round based on history, but after what I saw on Friday, it may just be a case of Scott being in the zone.
One thing to note, though. There was virtually no wind at Royal Lytham & St Annes on Friday, which is odd to say the least. If the wind picks up, it's going to be more difficult to hit those fairways.
I had Tiger Woods as my favorite headed into the 2012 British Open and he hasn't disappointed.
Woods has played smart, and it's shown in the statistics. He's hit an astounding 26 of 28 fairways through two rounds and 29 of 36 greens, well above the field averages.
The one thing Woods could work in the next two rounds is his putting. He has 12 one-putts through 36 holes, tied for 77th in the field. By comparison, the leader in that category, Matt Kuchar, has 20 one-putts.
Then again, if Woods keeps making shots like the bunker shot he made on the 18th hole on Friday, he won't have to make a lot of putts at all.
Woods already has three PGA Tour victories on the year and he's played much better than in the past few years. He's only four shots back and continues to look like a front-runner.
Place: Tied for 5th
Graeme McDowell had one clear advantage over the competition coming into the 2012 British Open: driving accuracy.
McDowell ranked second on tour in driving accuracy headed into Royal Lytham & St Annes (roughly 71 percent), and it benefits him mightily at the British Open which is known for its historically poor weather.
What is really remarkable is that McDowell hasn't been as accurate as I thought he would be and he still sits just six shots behind the leader. He's hit 20 of 28 fairways, which is above the field average but still not vintage McDowell.
On the other hand, McDowell has been a very good putter this season (ranked 11th on tour), and that has helped him at the British Open. He has averaged 1.5 putts per hole through two rounds (the field average is 1.64), including 16 one-putts (tied for 14th at the British Open).
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