The third major of the year has come and gone, and boy did it… provide about as little drama as the first two. Granted, there were moments on Sunday when Rickie Fowler was able to get within 4 strokes of McIlroy’s lead, and Sergio got it to 2 shots after an eagle on 10 and a McIlroy bogey on 13… and both Fowler and Garcia birdied the closing par 5s, 16 and 18, to finish only two strokes behind McIlroy… but did we ever have that moment where we thought Rory was going to lose? No. Much like Kaymer from the first hole on Thursday to the 18th on Sunday at Pinehurst, and Bubba starting at the 8th hole on Sunday at Augusta, the doubt and drama that makes us crave these majors failed to fully materialize. Whether it was McIlroy’s pair of eagles on 16 and 18 in his third round, or his 364 yard, middle of the fairway bomb on 16 on Sunday, that set up an eagle putt and a birdie conversion, this was his week, and he earned his third major in four years in impressive fashion.
However, a chance to cling on to the Claret Jug was not the only achievement earned this weekend. In addition to Rory sealing a spot on the European team in this year’s Ryder Cup, both Rickie Fowler and Jim Furyk locked down their places in the iconic, across the pond battle. Fowler has been the hottest player in the majors this year. Save for getting a win, he notched a T5 in the Masters, and back to back runner up finishes in the Opens, playing in the final pairing each time. That kind of poise under pressure, coupled with his already established match play skills bodes well for team America. And Furyk has been riding a hot hand in the majors as well. Before his latest solo fourth finish in the Open, he earned a T12 at the U.S. Open, and a T14 at the Masters. For those who may not remember, Furyk was Jason Dufner’s stiffest competition, and had a great chance to win, in the PGA Championship last year. No doubt Furyk will and should be a favorite heading into Valhalla in three weeks.
As for our team of slowly-growing experts, we made a huge step forward with our predictions this week. Dave aptly deemed Fowler the “safest bet,” while our guest analyst, Mike McKenzie, gave the nod to Adam Scott who hung around for a T5. At least two of us picked McIlroy, Garcia, and Scott in our foursomes, although two of us picked Kaymer, who earned the high round on Sunday and was one of the worst finishers among those who made the cut. The same goes for Woods, who was chosen by two of us, and finished in 69th place. Still, two of our dark horses, Shane Lowry (T10) and Chris Wood (T23), shared low round honors by shooting 65s on Sunday to climb back up the leader board, and I predicted McIlroy as my hands-down favorite to win the tournament, claiming “We missed on picking Kaymer at the U.S. Open, and I cannot help but to think that this week might look oddly similar, except with McIlroy this time running away with the Claret Jug.” See, with enough practice and effort, you can get better at making golf predictions. The question now is, can we keep it up.
See the rest of our results below, and start shifting your focus to the RBC Canadian Open – preview and predictions coming soon!
Dave: Rickie Fowler (-15, T2)
Tom: Matt Kuchar (+2, T54)
Jon: Martin Kaymer (+8, 70)
Mike: Adam Scott (-12, T5)
Dark Horse for the Week
Dave: Cameron Tringale (74-74, Cut)
Tom: Shane Lowry (-10, T9)
Jon: Bradley Neil (79-76, Cut)
Mike: Chris Wood (-5, T23)
Unlikely Player to Miss the Cut
Dave: Hunter Mahan (-3, T32)
Tom: Brendon Todd (-1, T39)
Jon: Henrik Stenson (-1, T39)
Mike: Tiger Woods (+6, 69)
Favorite to Win
Dave: Henrik Stenson (-1, T39)
Tom: Rory McIlroy (-17, Winner)
Jon: Martin Kaymer (+8, 70)
Mike: Justin Rose (-5, T23)
Dave: Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Brandt Snedeker, Tiger Woods (Total Earnings: $866,327)
Tom: Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler, Martin Kaymer (Total Earnings: $2,496,674)
Jon: Martin Kaymer, Adam Scott, Tiger Woods,
Lee Westwood (Total Earnings: $402,180)
Mike: Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia (Total Earnings: $2,890,213)
*Congrats to Mike McKenzie for saying, “yeah, I can come in here, pick for the first time, and completely own you in nearly every category.” Well, we just can’t wait to see Mike’s picks in this week’s tournament, being played on his native Canadian soil. It might be considered blasphemous if he doesn’t pick Graham DeLaet, Mike Weir, or David Hearn to win…