With the pretenders now effectively weeded out through two days at Muirfield, the race for the 2013 British Open championship is set to get even more intense over the weekend.
Miguel Angel Jimenez sits atop the leaderboard after firing a 71 in Day 2 to remain at three-under-par for the tournament. But with plenty of players within four strokes of his lead and tough course conditions providing some wild swings in scoring from round to round, things are far from over.
Here's a look at how the leaderboard currently stacks up.
Round 2 saw a few players really step up their game to make their claim for the Claret Jug. Let's examine the round they had and play a little buy or sell with their weekend stock going forward.
After shooting a disappointing 75 on the tournament's first day, Lee Westwood put in one of the best performances of Friday with a 68 to tie Charl Schwartzel for the lowest score of the day at 3-under-par.
His low score can be chalked up to an incredible start and a great day with the putter. He tallied five birdies on the first nine holes, and is one of the top putters in the tournament with 1.53 putts per hole, according to TheOpen.com.
As Justin Ray of ESPN points out, Westwood is no stranger to contending in the major. He has seven top-three finishes in his career.
Can Lee Westwood break through? He has 7 top-3 finishes in majors - most of anyone without a win since the inception of the Masters.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) July 19, 2013
However, he also has no wins. Projecting where he goes from here, his winless streak at the majors should continue. Despite the strong start, Westwood's back nine looked an awful lot like his first day. He scored just one birdie and finished with bogey on three of six holes.
Obviously, he's capable of putting together good rounds the rest of the way, but his inconsistency will keep him from truly contending.
Prediction: Top 20 finish
What a difference a day makes.
On the tournament's first day, the 28-year-old Schwartzel was snapping his six-iron in frustration. After all, he was in the midst of a round in which he shot a 75 and appeared to have played himself out of contention at Muirfield.
Not so fast.
Apparently letting out a little frustration was just what the doctor ordered. He tied Westwood for the best round of the day and is now T-11 heading into Saturday's action.
Believe it or not, it's a little easier to buy Schwartzel's round setting himself up for weekend success than Westwood's. For a guy that just broke his club one day prior, Schwartzel showed composure throughout his round, bogeying just one hole the entire round.
On a course that has seen golfers post erratic scores thus far, Schwartzel's consistency is the mark of a player that will make some noise.
Prediction: Top 10 finish
Miguel Angel Jimenez
Jimenez didn't put in quite the same day as Schwartzel or Westwood, but he was one of the day's biggest stars. His 71 was good for par and allowed him to seize sole control of the lead.
He didn't dominate the front nine like he did in the first day when he scored birdies on five of the nine holes. He went even par on both the front and back in Day 2.
However, he once again put his accuracy on full display as he continues to hit fairways at a strong rate of 64 percent. Considering the field average is 57.6 percent his ability to stay out of the rough is something that will continue to make him a threat to hold the Claret Jug.
Looking ahead, Jimenez's second day was strong compared to his fellow strong starters from the first day. Players like Mark O'Meara, Zach Johnson and Rafael Cabrera-Bello followed up their leaderboard-topping days with scores well over-par.
As Dan Jenkins of Golf Digest quipped, this course has not been kind to players.
Just found out that at the end of the Open the fairways will be used to replace the sand in the bunkers.— Dan Jenkins (@danjenkinsgd) July 19, 2013
Jimenez's consistency is a good sign that he's prepared for the battle of attrition that the final two days will become.
Prediction: Top 3 finish