No pressure, Rory.
All Mr. Rory McIlroy is trying to do is become the first wire-to-wire winner of the British Open since one Tiger Woods paced the field in 2005. McIlroy started off the day with a six-stroke lead over young Rickie Fowler, who is his playing partner in the final round.
The Northern Irishman is proving that he is one of the few golfers in the world capable of eviscerating tournaments with his sensation play. He's already shown dominance in his first two major wins—the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 PGA Championship—and could take golf into a post-Woods era with a win on Sunday.
He's been strong while driving the ball off the tee in this tournament and easily avoided another Friday collapse with a second-round score of 66.
Meanwhile, Adam Scott is off to a great start with birdies in two of his first three holes, which makes it seem like he wasn't entirely speaking in jest during his pre-round comments, per the PGA Tour:
"I have to go out and play the best round I can ... and hope that includes 10 birdies." --Adam Scott who is -6, 10 off Rory McIlroy's pace— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 20, 2014
Of course, only Fowler and the likes of Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson have a true chance of catching McIlroy on the day.
Not every golf observer may have seen this coming, but his own father believed in him, per the PGA Tour:
Here is a look at the notable performances from golfers who have already walked off the 18th hole on Sunday.
They didn't have a chance of catching the likes of McIlroy and Fowler, but quite a few golfers managed to redeem themselves with brilliant play through a typically cold, damp day in Hoylake, England.
The legendary Tom Watson delighted fans with a vintage round of golf, shooting a 68 to bring his four-round total to 289. He was still lost in the back of the pack after his excellent round, but it's a fairly safe bet that few other golfers will be putting up four-under rounds in major tournaments at the ripe old age of 64.
ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski noted that others on the course were quite deferential to the living legend:
Love how the caddies and playing partner are lagging behind Tom Watson as he makes walk up 18th fairway. Class move by them. And crowd.— Gene Wojciechowski (@GenoEspn) July 20, 2014
Few golfers had rounds as impressive as Chris Wood's Sunday score of 65. His low total was 10 strokes better than his opening-round score and took him to five under for the tournament.
It's a testament to the ability of those on the tour—and perhaps the unexpected nature of his play—that Wood's final round couldn't vault him into the top 10 by the time he finished playing.
Angel Cabrera made waves with his final-round score of 67, which vaulted him into a tie for seventh place at one point in the morning.
Thomas Bjorn, Brendon Todd and Koumei Oda all had rounds to remember and build on after Sunday; all three players shot a fine five-under for the final round.
No Redemption for Tiger
Sports are always better when the brightest stars are playing at their best. Woods is hardly considered a villain, which makes his final-round score of 75 and six-over total for the tournament so shocking, disappointing and outright baffling.
ESPN's SportsCenter Twitter account noted how terrible Woods' final score was relative to the rest of his career:
Tiger Woods shoots 75 (+3) to move to 6-over at #TheOpen. This will be his worst career major finish in which he's made the cut.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 20, 2014
Sunday wasn't worse than his Friday total of 77, but it was a drop-off from his third-round score of 73. Tiger hasn't had a weekend score below 70 in a major since the 2011 Masters tournament.
There was very little chance of him beating that ignominious streak on Sunday, as he bogeyed the No. 2 hole and then double-bogeyed hole No. 7—his third such miscue of the tournament, not counting his two triple bogeys from the previous rounds.
Many will point out that Woods' performance leaves him in doubt for the Ryder Cup—the aforementioned Watson is the American captain for 2014.
According to Doug Ferguson of The Associated Press (h/t Yahoo Sports), Woods said he would pick himself for the famous tournament.
Of course, according to GolfChannel.com's Jay Coffin, Woods wouldn't evaluate his recent performance:
Tiger was asked to give himself a grade for the week. "I'm not going there," he said. Didn't know that was an actual grade. #TheOpen— Jay Coffin (@JayCoffinGC) July 20, 2014
He's played just six rounds since a long layoff from back surgery, so he might have to prove that his poor play wasn't due to health. When Woods is on his game, he is still one of the best golfers in the world, as his current No. 7 world ranking will attest to.
Still, he may not be a great pick for the Ryder Cup as he was clearly frustrated with his own play on Sunday, which may not be so great for team morale.