10.55 – Sergio Garcia and Padraig Harrington. “He is the antithesis of me, and I am the antithesis of him”. Harrington’s assessment of his Saturday playing partner after the two Ryder Cup teammates had a spat following the 2007 Open Championship, when Garcia insinuated that Harrington ‘got lucky’ following his play-off victory over the Spaniard at Carnoustie. It wasn’t the first time that Harrington had clashed with a Spaniard on the golf course either, having had a run in with Jose Maria Olazabal in the 2003 Seve Trophy match. You feel that conversation could be kept to a minimum in this game today.
1.15 – Tom Lehman and Mark O’Meara. If experience is what is needed to win this year’s Open, then this group has it in abundance. Both six shots back from the top of the leaderboard, Lehman and O’Meara have somewhat rolled back the years this week to find top form when younger players such as Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald failed to make the cut. Both Lehman (1996) and O’Meara (1998) have previous Open wins and will be hoping to make their experience count today. Teeing off two hours before the final group could also prove an advantage.
1.55 – Ian Poulter and Bubba Watston. This pairing has serious charisma and the crowd-pleasing pair will promise plenty of entertainment this afternoon. Poulter and Watson played together on the Saturday at Lytham last year when Bubba launched an assault on the leader board from a similar position to the one he finds himself in today, and who could forget Poulter’s heroics at Medinah last year. Call it a hunch, but I fancy one of these two to make a big move this afternoon.
Westwood seems to have banished some of his putting demons and he was extremely relaxed and positive following his round yesterday. 3.10 – Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood. Every time Tiger has won a major he has either held the outright lead or has been tied for the lead after 54 holes, so if Muirfield is to be the scene of his 15th major win, expect Woods to launch an assault on the leaders today. He finds himself one shot back from outright leader Miguel Angel Jimenez today, but still the firm favourite to to win this year’s Open.
Today will also prove to be a huge test for Lee Westwood, who so often finishes in the top 10 but is yet to add a major win to his collection. Watching him play yesterday, Westwood seems to have banished some of his putting demons and he was extremely relaxed and positive following his round. Could Westwood follow fellow countryman Justin Rose and break his major hoodoo this weekend?
3.20 – Miguel Angel Jimenez and Henrik Stenson. So often this week have the leaders fallen away from the top after playing in the afternoon. Take Zach Johnson and Angel Cabrera yesterday, who were both -4 through nine but then dropped back to -1. Facing the toughest conditions on the course, this will be a monumental test of skill for the leaders and it will be well worth sticking around until the close tonight to see how they cope with the pressure of sitting in pole position heading into the weekend.