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The British Open 2013: Favorites Still Deep in Hunt at Muirfield

GULLANE, SCOTLAND - JULY 20:  Tiger Woods of the United States waits to tee off on the 1st during the third round of the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield on July 20, 2013 in Gullane, Scotland.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Jeremy FuchsCorrespondent IIIJuly 20, 2013

The third round of the British Open 2013 is underway, and this historic tournament is off to a terrific start.

Here's how the leaderboard is playing out:

14 players are still in the mix to win it all, including pre-tournament favorites like Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson. 

What chances do the favorites have to win it all at Muirfield? Read on to find out.

 

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods, through four holes in the third round, is the tied for the lead at two-under.

Woods was two-under after two rounds and shot an impressive 71 in the second round.

He was impressed with how he's played, telling USA Today:

I'm in a good spot. These guys have to go out this afternoon and obviously play a golf course that's quick and it's drying out and with a different wind. So it will be tough out there. … (I'll) just continue plodding along. Just continue just being patient, putting the ball in the right spots. We're not going to get a lot of opportunities out there, but when I have, I've been able to capitalize, and hopefully I can continue doing that.

Woods has hit nine birdies thus far, although he would benefit from cutting down on his bogeys, as he has six so far.

But if he can keep his current pace, then Woods will be in it at the end and has a good chance to win the tournament for a fifth time.

 

Henrik Stenson

Stenson has long been a steady golfer, and he's having a fine tournament so far. Through two holes in the third round, Stenson is tied for third, just two strokes back.

He has nine birdies and only five bogeys. Above all, however, he has been consistent, as Alistair Tait of Golfweek tweeted:

Stenson still has to overcome Woods, which is easier said than done. But he is trending upwards while Miguel Angel Jimenez has been inconsistent. That means that Stenson will have, assuming he keeps his play up, a solid chance of being in the final pairing with Woods, with a good chance to win. 

If Stenson does win, it would be his first major championship victory. His previous best finish at a major was tied for third at the 2008 and 2010 British Opens. 

 

Phil Mickelson

Mickelson is currently three strokes off the lead through 10 holes.

After shooting an impressive 69 in the first round, Mickelson struggled a bit in the second round, shooting a 74. So far through 10 holes in the third round, Mickelson is one under par. 

In order to stay in contention, Mickelson needs to start reducing his bogeys. He has seven bogeys and just nine birdies, which is not the most desirable ratio.

Still, Mickelson showed in the first round that he can play well at Muirfield, and he's rebounded from a rough second round. It will be tough to catch Tiger, who is showing his old form. But Mickelson will hang in there in the end, and if someone like Woods or Stenson falters, Mickelson will be there to fill the void. 

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