British Open Leaderboard 2014: Latest Scores and Standings from Day 4

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British Open Leaderboard 2014: Latest Scores and Standings from Day 4
Jon Super/Associated Press

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson helped kick off the final round at the 2014 British Open, a strange sight indeed for what has proved to be a tournament that has qualified as anything but normal.

Woods reels in the viewers, but it has been Rory McIlroy's show since Thursday, where he started with a superb 66 out of the chute and has never looked back.

Sunday, he's got to mold a similar ultimate round to hold off a late surges from recognizable faces.

For fans who want to follow the drama into the early afternoon, here are the current standings, which will be updated in real time:

 

Storylines to Watch

Rory McIlroy and His First Claret Jug

Jon Super/Associated Press

Few seem to stand in the way of McIlroy at this point, who owns the largest 54-hole lead at the tournament since Woods led by six strokes back in 2000.

If that's not convincing enough, McIlroy seemingly has a knack for fending off the field when things approach dire status. After a 66 in each of the first two rounds, he shot a four-under 68 on Saturday, with two timely eagles when the rest of the leaderboard was gaining ground.

A rather dramatic tweet from Nike Golf Europe—showcasing the tumultuous weather that has thrown the event into a strange schedule—set the stage for the finale: 

To his credit, McIlroy seems to understand the magnitude of the final round and the volatile nature of those in hot pursuit, as illustrated by his comments Saturday to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN):

I'm not taking anything for granted. If the guys in front of me had just finished a little better—finished the way I did—then my lead wouldn't have been as much as it was. ... A lot can happen. And I've been on the right side of it and I've been on the wrong side of it. You can't let yourself think forward. You've just got to completely stay in the moment, and that's what I'm going to try to do for all 18 holes tomorrow.

The Claret Jug became fair game in Round 3, as McIlory was simply ho-hum at par through the front nine. But a birdie on the 14th hole was followed by eagles on both the 16th—thanks to a pretty 4-iron shot that rolled more than 20 feet—and 18th holes, completely excusing the bogey between.

It's not a new brand of McIlroy by any means, but the killer instinct is akin to one normally reserved for an in-his-prime Woods. McIlroy is averaging more than 350 yards on his drives and saving as many important pars as he is chalking up highlight drives.

As if superb play wasn't good enough, history seems to be on his side, as the PGA Tour's Twitter feed hinted Saturday:

Some of the players within that figure are not completely out of the running, though—especially if McIlroy suddenly loses the ability to slam the door before one sneaks a foot through.

 

Rickie Fowler's Comeback Story

Scott Heppell/Associated Press

Perhaps the most important name to watch Sunday is Rickie Fowler, who has the most spoiler potential of all.

Though he is six strokes back, the 25-year-old American has shown a propensity for major surges that throw the leaderboard into chaos. Not only has his play hinted at a major push on the final day, the above history is all but guaranteed, as noted by ESPN Stats and Info:

Fowler has been a birdie machine of late, a trend that showed no sign of slowing Saturday after he hit four birdies on the first six holes before pouring in three more consecutively, beginning with hole No. 10.

One slip from McIlroy, and that six-stroke lead can evaporate.

Will Fowler steal the Claret Jug?

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"If I'm able to go out and get off to a good start, maybe I can put a little bit of pressure on him," Fowler said after a 68, per the ESPN article. "Because he's definitely in control of the golf tournament right now."

Consistency does not appear like it will be an issue—Fowler is the lone player to finish in the top five at the Masters and U.S. Open this year, so unless he comes out and completely collapses under the pressure of the final round, expect to see Fowler give the top spot on the leaderboard a serious push.

 

The Best of the Rest

Jon Super/Associated Press

Two players entering Sunday tied for third place at nine-under par shouldn't be forgotten either.

American Dustin Johnson hung around Thursday with a 71 before exploding for a best-in-class 65 on Friday—a number matching his career best for a round at a major.

He cooled a bit with another 71 Saturday, but the explosiveness to make a push is certainly there.

Johnson has been able to hang with McIlroy in the drives department—he's averaging 311 yards on them, a number that blows away the field's average of 280.8.

He's also connecting on better than 75 percent of his greens and 61 percent of his fairways, numbers that prove he may be able to capitalize on a slip by those in front of him.

Scott Heppell/Associated Press

The other man in third place is less of a sure thing: Sergio Garcia has developed a reputation in recent years as someone who implodes when it matters.

But for all intents and purposes, there is no outright reason to believe it will happen again, as he's hitting 69 percent of fairways—even with his relatively weak drives, which have an average of 293.2 yards.

If his final round can be more like his first and third outings on the weekend with five birdies apiece, the 34-year-old veteran can steal one relatively relatively unexpectedly. It would be a fitting end and align well with a season that has been the farthest thing from predictable.

 

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