British Open 2012: What Top Contenders Must Do to Take Home Open Championship

Jeremy Los@@JeremyALosFeatured ColumnistJuly 21, 2012

British Open 2012: What Top Contenders Must Do to Take Home Open Championship

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    The third round of the British Open is officially underway, and the leaderboard at Royal Lytham and St. Annes is packed with big time names ready to add to their legacies and a few unknowns primed to shock the world.

    For the Top Four players on the leaderboard, the first two days have been great, as they have stormed to the front of the pack and have played extremely well.

    Presented is what each of the top players on the leaderboard must do over the weekend if they wish to have their name etched on the Claret Jug as Champion Golfer of 2012. 

Brandt Snedecker

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    Snedeker roared to the lead after a masterful 64 in the second round.

    Through two rounds, Brandt has done the unthinkable and has been able to stay out of the over 200 bunkers that line Royal Lytham and St. Annes. Brandt’s ability to stay out of the demonizing bunkers has helped him keep a clean scorecard—the only person in the field to do so, through the first two days.

    The remarkable thing is that Brandt has not been terribly accurate off the tee this week—only hitting 61 percent of the fairways (under the tournament average of 64 percent)—yet he has found a way to dodge trouble.

    Snedeker could also look to his amazing approach game as to why he finds himself atop the leaderboard heading into the weekend. Brandt has absolutely torched the field in greens hit through first two days—hitting 86 percent of the greens (the field average is 60 percent).

    If Snedeker is going to break through for his first major title this weekend, he is going to have to hope his luck of missing bunkers continues, while also continuing to hit greens at an amazing rate. 

Adam Scott

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    After a fantastic opening round 64—that saw him match the course record—Scott was able to put together a solid second round 67 to put him one shot back heading into the weekend.

    Scott’s overall game has been firing on all cylinders all week. His tee-to-green game has been pinpoint, as he is hitting 75 percent of the fairways and nearly 73 percent of the greens. However, the biggest reason he finds himself in the mix heading into the weekend is his putting.

    Adam has found his niche with the long-putter and has been pouring in putts on Royal Lytham’s tricky greens. He is averaging just over 1.5 putts per hole, with 16 one putts through the first 36 holes.

    If Scott is going to take home the Claret Jug this week he is going to have to continue to make putts and play well from tee-to-green.

    Adapting to a pressure situation will also be a big factor for Adam, as he has shown a slight tendency to crack under pressure.  

Tiger Woods

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    Tiger made waves yesterday when he holed-out from the bunker on 18 to shoot his second consecutive 67 and put himself in prime position for moving day.

    Tiger this week has been a tactician off the tee, hitting an astonishing 93 percent of his fairways; however, he has at times been a little loose with his approach shots into the green (his second in 18 yesterday is the perfect example). 

    Tiger finds himself in the thick of the championship despite being only even par on the par fives this week and still being a shell of his former self with the putter—averaging right around the field average in putts per hole at 1.61.

    If Woods is going to walk away with his fourth Claret Jug, he is going to have to start feasting on the par fives. His conservative approach off the tee has definitely made it more difficult to attack, but if he can put together two-to-three good shots, he could walk away with a couple birdies on the par fives over the weekend.

    It also doesn’t hurt to make a couple putts.

Thorbjorn Olesen

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    The 22-year-old Olesen has been playing extremely consistent so far this week, and was able to put together back-to-back birdies to close out his second round.

    Thorbjorn has been solid from tee-to-green this week, hitting nearly 79 percent of the fairways and nearly 73 percent of the greens, while also being solid on-and-around the greens.

    The big thing for Olesen—at least on Saturday—is how will he handles being a part of the Tiger Woods circus, with the extra attention and immense pressure that comes along with it.

    Some players, especially as of late, have been able to feed off the energy of playing with Tiger and have been able to survive, if not play better. However, Thorbjorn is a bit of an unproven commodity and this will be his first time being in the same pairing with Woods.