Day of the 2013 British Open gave the experts plenty of action to react to.
Miguel Angel Jimenez experienced a free-fall down the leaderboard, Tiger Woods stayed right in contention but couldn't seize the lead, and Lee Westwood rode another consistent round to become the 54-hole leader.
Here's a look at how they all stack up through the first three rounds at Muirfield.
It didn't take an expert to see that the course has taken its toll on the competitors. Kyle Porter of CBS predicts that the winner will barely break par:
Phil says E is going to win the Open, I say -1, what say you?— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) July 20, 2013
Jason Sobel of the Golf Channel also chipped into the conversation, noting that anyone who gets into a rhythm on the green Sunday will have a good shot at walking away with the Claret Jug:
Fill in the blank: If ________ putts great tomorrow, he can win. (If you answered with anyone in the top-18, congrats. You're right.)— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) July 20, 2013
No one exemplified how fast the course can turn on you faster than Jimenez. After entering Day 3 as the tournament's leader, he fell all the way out of the top 10 thanks to six bogeys and a double. It didn't go unnoticed.
Sobel was one of the many to point out Jimenez's weekend collapse:
Miguel Angel Jimenez is called Mechanic because he used to be car mechanic. Not because he’ll still take your money on the weekend.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) July 20, 2013
This photo from Golf Digest's Instagram account summed up his day pretty well.
As disappointing as Jimenez's fall was, the experts had plenty to say about Lee Westwood's emergence as The Open leader. Specifically, his rocky past in majors. His pursuit to win his first major will be one of Sunday's biggest storylines.
Porter noted that Westwood was the only player among the major contenders to break par on the round:
Lee Westwood was the only golfer in the last six groups today to break par. Wowza.— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) July 20, 2013
Westwood has been oh-so-close to winning majors before. As Sobel notes, he has a top-three finish in all four majors with no wins:
Lee Westwood's best previous major results: Masters 2nd; U.S. Open 3rd; Open Championship 2nd; PGA Championship 3rd.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) July 20, 2013
However, he does offer hope for the 40-year-old. His clutch putting through three rounds is an indication that this might just be the year Westwood flips the script:
Lee Westwood hasn't putted like this during a major championship weekend since ... ever.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) July 20, 2013
Shane Bacon of Yahoo! Sports made a similar observation:
Adam Scott learned how to be clutch, Justin Rose learned how to survive and Lee Westwood has learned how to putt. 2013 is different.— Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) July 20, 2013
Of course Tiger's third round was a heavy topic of conversation among analysts. Looking to end his five-year major drought, Woods teed off at Muirfield looking to set himself up for a Sunday of contention.
He did it, shooting a 72 to go to one-under for the tournament and just two shots back from Westwood. However, history says that it won't be enough. As Numbers Never Lie tweeted out, none of his majors have come without at least a share of the lead after three days:
Tiger Woods has 14 major championship wins. He has ZERO without at least a share of the lead after 3rd round.— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) July 20, 2013
As Dan Jenkins of Golf Digest points out, a win for Tiger would have historic ramifications:
Tiger has 2 chances to close deficit vs. Jack: win would get him within 3 of major win total, 2nd place would get him within 12 of Jack's 19— Dan Jenkins (@danjenkinsgd) July 20, 2013
Even with history against him, Woods' position of T-2 on the leaderboard is one of his better opportunities to win a major in the last five years, per Justin Ray of ESPN:
Since last major win, Tiger Woods' best 54-hole positions are 1st at 2009 PGA, 3rd at 2010 US Open & T-3rd at 2010 Masters.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) July 20, 2013
With Westwood and Woods both looking to alter the way they are perceived, we're in for an unpredictable Sunday at Muirfield. Time will tell if either can overcome his past struggles and lift the Claret Jug or if we'll someone else emerge from the pack.