This seems to be a story that even the less-than-smart golf media can not blow out of proportion.
It is incredibly unlikely that a random golfer, who tees it up two times on the PGA Tour per year can stay competitive with the game’s elite. When that random golfer is 5-time Open Champion Tom Watson, it may be slightly more likely, but it is still pretty ridiculous.
I have no idea how to treat Tom Watson. More than likely these three rounds have been a fluke. Vegas seems to agree as my average of players with less than 20 rounds is about 8-1, close to the 8.5-1, that Watson opened at.
Let’s also remember that while having the 54 hole lead is noteworthy, A) it is still not all that likely that Watson wins tomorrow and B) this performance is probably about the same as Jack finishing t-6 at the Masters in 1998. Sure, Jack wasn’t leading ever, but finishing that high in a major is a very good accomplishment at the age of 59.
Tom Watson likely won’t win, will finish around Jack and we can all debate who had the better aging performance at their best championship.
The Ugly, The Good and the Bad
If you were to use a cheesy title for the movie about Steve Marino’s round today that might be it. It started off terrible with a 5 over par performance in his first five holes. Marino played the first five holes in 24 shots compared to a field average of 20.3.
He then made a nice par putt on 6 and caught fire through the middle of his round and played holes 6-14 in 33 strokes compared to a field average of 36.5.
Then once again, Marino fell apart closing out the final four holes in 19 strokes compared to a field average of 16.3. The sad thing is Marino, didn’t play all that bad today, just got a few unlucky rolls into bunkers, and a terrible lie that cost him probably three or four shots on the round. Tough luck.
Steve Stricker: sure Stricker is fairly about 150-1 to win this tournament, but I did say longshots. A round of 70 today beat the field average by over three shots and snuck him into lurking distance after a round of 77 on Friday. 278 is still looking like the winning score, which means Stricker will need to fire a 65 tomorrow for a chance. I bet when he finishes t-11 tomorrow, he will really be kicking himself for some sloppy shots on Friday.
Chance to win: .5%
Thomas Aiken: If you don’t think Aiken has the talent, look no further than a second best round in the field today with 69. That was enough to get him into a tie for 13th place. Aiken would need 67 tomorrow, matching Molder’s round today, but he is quite capable of lighting Turnberry on fire. Unfortunately Turnberry is quite capable of lighting him on fire, too. 400-1, is a crazy price for someone with his potential to go low.
Chance to win: .5%
Tom Watson: Yup, I’m only putting Watson as lurking. That’s because I have seen nothing other than three days of good play(Paging Barnes, Ricky) that proves to me Watson should be better than the +850 he is going off at. Watson’s major championship experience is probably worth something, but not as much as the fact that he is 59 and does not regularly compete on the PGA Tour.
Chance to win: 10%
Jim Furyk: Furyk has done nothing but put himself into contention on Sunday’s this season. For a player of his ability it has to pay off at some point.
Chance to win: 10%
Lee Westwood: Paul Azinger may have lost his mind, when calling Lee Westwood the best swing of the players in contention. I disagree. I’ll take Goosen’s or Fisher’s easily. Also, if you can figure out why Lee Westwood is so egregiously overrated this week, please get back to me.
Chance to win: 12%
Retief Goosen: Retief is the poor man’s overrated version of Jim Furyk this year. He has been in Sunday contention a lot, but has produced only a win in Tampa and a lot of disappointing results. Of the guys in the top-5, Goosen, by a small margin over Westwood, is probably the best, but he still has to make up shots on good players.
Chance to win: 14%
Mathew Goggin: Don’t know anything about Goggin’s game, join Paul Azinger. Lots of solid results for Goggin, no wins, that seems to be a common theme of underratedness. The guy has been in contention before, he has to break through at somepoint.
Chance to win: 17%
Ross Fisher: Ross is a good player, with great results at big tournaments. Watson a shot ahead of him is not a huge threat to him. Straight-up he’d be favored over Goggin and big time favorites over Goosen and Westwood with a shot to spare. That’s why he is and should be the favorite tomorrow. As for the kid being born issue, I like Peter Allis’ take, “Women are sensible, they know when to keep quite.” That may have drawn the first real laugh out of Golf announcer’s I have heard all season.
Chance to win: 21%
Straight from the Numbers:
These are slightly adjusted from earlier to factor in only how the course played on the past two days, which seems a more accurate representation of the weather than the first:
Like I said, I think 278 wins outright, 282 gets you a share of the top-5 and 284 gets you a share of the top-10.