It’s moving day at the Open Championship and it’s all set for a fascinating third round. Despite shooting an admirable 65 yesterday, there’s no Rory McIlroy, as an opening 79 horror show, put paid to his chances of lifting the claret jug on home soil.
Reigning Masters champion Tiger Woods won’t be adding to his Major haul this season either so our attention now turns to the likes of Shane Lowry and and the unfancied American JB Holmes who both sit on -8 before they tee off later this afternoon.
The English duo of Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood sit one shot behind them on -7 and a further 22 players including Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Matt Kuchar are all within five shots of the lead.
Let’s see if we can pick out some value in today’s two-ball pairings.
We’ll start with the Matt Kuchar and Tyrrell Hatton at 2.30pm and my pre-tournament fancy Kuch is the play here for me @ 5/6.
After a steady enough day one on Thursday, Matt had a really solid day on Friday hitting more than 90 per cent of his fairways and 80 per cent of his greens. I’m optimistic a few more putts will start to drop for him on Saturday, which will allow him to make a serious move up the leaderboard.
Hatton meanwhile has been far less reliable off the tee so far, having limped home with two late bogeys on Friday, I wouldn’t surprised to see him stall over the weekend.
Next up I shall take a chance on Andrew Putnam @ 6/4 to get the better of Jordan Spieth in their 3.10pm tee time.
It’s not that I’m expecting a big round from Putnam, but more a case that this could again be another false dawn from Spieth who could struggle over the weekend, as we have seen several times this year.
If we look at the numbers from the 2017 Open Champion, he’s hit just over 40 per cent of his fairways in round one and barely 35 per cent of them in round two. His score of 67 on Friday was, unsurprisingly, made with the putter.
While we have seen enough of Spieth over the years to know that he can perform miracles with the flat stick, we have to remember that he admitted he was he lost off the tee. With the wind expected to get up more on Saturday, unless his long game suddenly springs to life, he could struggle.
Putnam was bogey free on Friday and played really solidly in Scotland last week so gets the nod.
An Open victory for Westwood would be a hugely popular, but I think his best chances of winning a Major Championship are now behind him and expect him to fade out of the picture over the weekend.
On the flip-side, Fleetwood looks to be on the cusp of putting a huge weekend together.
His incredibly consistent play over the last couple of seasons warrants it and the way he has played over the first two days makes me believe he will be right there come Sunday afternoon.
*Prices correct at time of publishing