5 Biggest Surprises Entering 2014 Open Championship Weekend

Thirty-six holes down and 36 to go at Royal Liverpool for the 2014 Open Championship, and as per usual, surprises abound after the cut. Here is a look at five, either good or bad:

Rory McIlroy plays well on Freaky Friday
McIlroy is the best player on the PGA Tour this year in the first round, with a scoring average of 68.0 after his opening-round 66 on Thursday. But entering Friday, he was 181st in the second round, averaging 72.9. He went 71-77 at the Masters this year; 69-76 at the Wells Fargo Championship; 63-78 at the Memorial Tournament; and 64-78 at the Scottish Open last week. At past Open Championships, McIlroy went 67-75 in 2012; 63-80 in 2010; 69-74 in 2009; and 69-76 in 2007. “Freaky Friday” it has become known as. Well, he was freaking good today in Hoylake, carding another 6-under 66 to take a four-shot lead into the weekend. He’s two rounds away from the third leg of the career grand slam at age 25.

Rory McIlroy 600

Tiger Woods makes the cut on the number
As much as he thought he could win the Open Championship, we didn’t necessarily agree. But after an opening-round 69, we thought Tiger Woods would at least stay somewhat close to the leaders. He was good for 15 holes on Friday, average on one, and terrible on two. That added up to a 5-over 77, leaving him at +2 for the tournament and right on the cut line. Woods double-bogeyed the first hole, made bogey on No. 2 (the second-toughest hole of the tournament) to quickly drop back to even par overall, then he made par on the next 14 holes. A triple-bogey seven on 17 ruined his day, and his only birdie of the round on 18 brought him just ahead of the cut. So at least he’ll make some money and earn some much-needed FedExCup points this weekend, but Woods has no hope of collecting major No. 15.

Rickie Fowler is the best player at the majors
You think Rickie Fowler’s time with new coach Butch Harmon is paying off? He began working with the famed swing instructor last year after missing the cut at the Open Championship, and this year Fowler has already recorded top-five finishes at both the Masters (T-5) and U.S. Open (T-2), the only player in the world to do so. He owned just one previous such finish, from the 2011 Open Championship (T-5). After back-to-back 69s this week, Fowler is tied for third, six strokes back of McIlroy. He had never posted consecutive rounds in the 60s at a major before Friday.

Rickie Fowler 600

John Singleton belongs on a pro tour
Forklift driver John Singleton could have been forgiven for shooting a 90 at The Open, or even an 80. After all, he’s a factory worker who’s never appeared in a major. Yet, those scores were actually turned in by Bryden Macpherson, a pro from Australia. Singleton, who would love to become a professional golfer, posted two rounds in the 70s: a 6-over 78 on Thursday, 2-under 70 on Friday. That won’t get him into the weekend, but it is better than 47 other golfers. For some perspective, Singleton’s +4 showing matched that of reigning Masters champion Bubba Watson. Patrick Reed, J.B. Holmes, Chesson Hadley and Russell Henley – all winners on the PGA Tour this season – would have loved to shoot that score.

Tom Watson still has that Open magic
Also sneaking in at +2 like Woods were, among others, Jordan Spieth, Luke Donald, Brandt Snedeker, Jason Day, Zach Johnson and … Tom Watson?! The 64-year-old, who will captain the U.S. this fall at the Ryder Cup, played as well as, and in some cases better than, the guys who will play for him. The five-time Open champion posted 73s both days, two strokes better than another Watson, Bubba, who as of this moment is leading the U.S. Ryder Cup standings. Tom played with Jim Furyk, who is on solid footing to make the U.S. team and is seven shots back of McIlroy. And surely Watson likes what he’s seeing this week from Fowler and Dustin Johnson, guys in good position to make the squad. Not so much out of Reed, Mickelson and Woods, guys who are all on the fence to be included in the Ryder Cup.

Tom Watson 600

Related Link: Complete Open Championship Coverage

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