The Open Championship 2013: Overlooked Golfers to Watch During Weekend Action

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistJuly 20, 2013

GULLANE, SCOTLAND - JULY 19:  Henrik Stenson of Sweden tees off on the 1st hole during the second round of the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield on July 19, 2013 in Gullane, Scotland.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Unsurprisingly, the spotlight during the 2013 Open Championship has been on stars like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood. But there's also an unheralded group of contenders hoping to shine on the major stage.

Muirfield continues to provide a tricky test. Between the wind and the changing course conditions over the course of a round, finding a rhythm is extremely difficult. It leaves the door open for any golfer who can get hot over the weekend.

Knowing that, let's examine three golfers who haven't been dominating the headlines in the early rounds, but are worth watching over the next two days. For a complete look at where every player stands, visit the major championships' official site.

Henrik Stenson

Stenson finished in a tie for third at last week's Scottish Open. He's carried that strong play over to the season's third major with a pair of 70s in the first two rounds. In a tournament where consistency has proved tough to attain, he's been rewarded for his solid play.

As always, the biggest key during the first two days of a major is avoiding disaster. A lot of players see their chances evaporate because of a couple bad holes early. Aside from a single double bogey in the second round, Stenson has been able to keep himself right in the mix by limiting mistakes.

Now that he's made the cut and is in contention, he'll have to take a couple more chances. He's been taking advantage of the par fives, but will have to start attacking the other holes as well to give himself a chance to capture the Claret Jug.

Martin Laird

Like Stenson, Laird arrived to Muirfield after building some momentum in the Scottish Open. He shot all four rounds in the 60s in conditions that helped prepare him for the major. The confidence that comes from that type of week provides a nice boost.

The most important thing for Laird is making sure he doesn't have one bad round that ruins his entire week. He shot a 76 at both the Masters and the U.S. Open. It's nearly impossible to overcome that type of score when going up against an elite field.

He's been striking the ball well and has shown a tendency to get hot for short stretches of holes. When he won the Valero Texas Open earlier in the season he played his best golf over the weekend. He'll have to match that effort to keep pace this weekend.

Jordan Spieth

Spieth keeps with the theme of players coming off good weeks. The rising star won the John Deere Classic by outlasting David Hearn and Zach Johnson in a playoff. At 19, it's sure starting to seem like he's a special talent.

He learned a valuable lesson near the end of Round 2. He was 3-under par and near the top of the leaderboard before dropping four strokes in a three-hole span. All it takes is a brief drop in form to cause a very good round to slip away.

Spieth must remain positive, however. He's still within striking distance since he played so well prior to that stretch. As long as he avoids a similar setback over the weekend, he can make a serious run toward the top because he's playing really good golf right now.