2014 British Open

British Open 2014 Leaderboard: Updating Results and Standings for Day 4

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates after playing an eagle on the 16th hole during the third day of the British Open Golf championship at the Royal Liverpool golf club, Hoylake, England, Saturday July 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super/Associated Press
Nate LoopFeatured ColumnistJuly 20, 2014

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:

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.

 

Early Risers

HOYLAKE, ENGLAND - JULY 19:  Tom Watson of the United States tees off on the 10th hole during the third round of The 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool on July 19, 2014 in Hoylake, England.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

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:

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.

HOYLAKE, ENGLAND - JULY 20:  Angel Cabrera of Argentina tees off on the 4th hole during the final round of The 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool on July 20, 2014 in Hoylake, England.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

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

HOYLAKE, ENGLAND - JULY 20:  Tiger Woods of the United States hits his second shot on the 18th hole during the final round of The 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool on July 20, 2014 in Hoylake, England.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

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:

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.

HOYLAKE, ENGLAND - JULY 20:  Tiger Woods of the United States reacts on the 18th green during the final round of The 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool on July 20, 2014 in Hoylake, England.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

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:

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.

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