From favorites to wreckage, the 2022 Open Championships in St. Andrews is really wide open

Street. Andrews, Scotland – Amidst this chaos lies the winner of the 150th Open. The pool of contenders at the top of the leaderboard brings together players at different stages in their careers, with mixed expectations and urgency.

There are those who are looking to end a long wait without a major or a world record. 1 Scotty Scheffler – who teams up with Dustin Johnson on Saturday – is chasing another milestone in an already great season. Then there are the hopes on home ground, those rookies and the group of LIV golfers looking to smash the 150 Open festivities.

In short – predicting the winner of the World Open has rarely been this difficult, or this exciting.

Street. Andrews has had some great fights over the years – and there are reminders all over the tales of last year at this famous course of the tight margins between the euphoria of golf with a place between the greats and those about to miss.

With the greatest respect, no one wants to join Doug Sanders or Costantino Roca on Sunday – these are the poor players who saw a victory away at the defining moment when they had one hand over Clarett Jugg.

Before the tournament started, Rory McIlroy said it would be “better for the game” if he wasn’t the winner of the breakaway LIV Series. R&A CEO Martin Slumbers tried to stay diplomatic in his pre-tournament press conference on Wednesday when asked if he agreed it would be best if he didn’t hand a Claret Jug to someone from that group of players, saying: Sunday will have his name engraved in history. And I’ll welcome them to 18th. This is a golf tournament.”

But this followed closely behind earlier saying that LIV was “harming the concept of the sport”.

Those who joined the LIV series have surely heard and read the comments (although most insist they have not, including Sergio Garcia, who said on Friday, “I don’t know how to read anymore”).

Of the 24 LIV players here, two are near the top of the board. Taylor Gotsch — who is 6 bullets off the lead — said the criticism motivated them as a group.

“It feels like everyone’s against us, and that’s okay,” Gooch said. “Like I said, it kind of brought us together, I think.”

Johnson, who was fifth and only 4 strokes behind, was less committed.

“I wouldn’t know what you were saying or if there was anything negative to be said,” he said. “I don’t care about her.”

It would be great to see the sport’s reaction if the guy with the claret bottle came on Sunday from that group of guys.

But those in the R&A club may keep their fingers crossed that the winner will be someone not involved in the LIV. There are plenty of contenders, like Cameron Smith and Patrick Cantlay, who don’t want to be known to be among the almost golfers.

It’s been 29 years since there was an Australian winner at The Open. Ironically, this is Greg Norman, who also happens to be the CEO of LIV Golf who was not invited to this week’s festivities despite winning the event twice. You wouldn’t know, however, that there was any pressure on Smith’s shoulders, even though he set an open record at 13 under after two rounds (by beating the previous 12 under Nick Faldo, Norman and Louis Oosthuizen). He’s more eager to talk about indulging in “Peaky Blinders” or trying to catch up with what the Maroons are doing in State of Origin for rugby league.

But there are expectations about him having won the Players Championship, and his entire game is set perfectly to dance around 112 bunkers in the old stadium.

“I think being late for vacation [Saturday] This afternoon, he’s obviously going to be a lot tougher… so I’d say he’s going to be pretty brutal in there, said Smith. I think there will be a few barbed pins, and I think being smart there will definitely be the key to staying on top of the leaderboard.”

Smith says he’s been playing the best golf of his life this year. Cantlay is coming off his best year. He ranked fourth in the overall golf world rankings, and added a win to the three he picked up a year earlier when he won the FedEx Cup and the PGA Tour of the Year award. In his own down-to-earth way, he says he’s in a “good place” before the weekend, and says he’ll continue to “get out of trouble” for the next couple of days.

You can also add in Victor Hovland – who will play alongside McIlroy on Saturday – for those looking to end their wait for a first major, with the Norwegian in the mix at a 10-under after the second round 66, which featured a stunning performance by the Eagle on day 15.

But the latent at the age of eight is the best player in the world and the Masters champion. Schaeffler’s victory here would add his name to the elite club of those who have racked up two majors in one year. This will also result in her winning five courses and still having time left in the golf calendar. If he is at the top of the leaderboard on Sunday, he will become only the fifth to achieve the feat, joining Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer. For someone who thinks they are not “seen” as first world. 1 – This will be some for the guy who spent the boosting period for this course watching YouTube videos of previous winners for any little hints on how best to tame the old track.

Briton Matt Fitzpatrick is also chasing his second major this season, having won the US Open last month. He’s 6 years old after the first two rounds, having been flat after the first, and definitely getting better as the week goes on. He played alongside Woods on Thursday and Friday. Amid the frenzy around their gathering, Fitzpatrick boomed on Friday.

“I feel different,” Fitzpatrick said, referring to the confidence that comes with just winning a major. “I can compete, I can win. [Winning a major] not stop me. It’s not something I’m nervous about. I have to show myself a little more. Yes, you have given me that extra confidence.”

Countryman Tyrell Hutton doesn’t lack confidence either. Although he’s kept a lid on his frenzy this week – there were no antics in the bend, though he did throw a ball in the burn on Thursday – he sits at the under-8 and is in a strong position.

But the main hope for many in the crowd is McIlroy.

Sheila Walker, granddaughter of Tom Morris, is hoping for a British winner this week. It’s been 22 years of waiting since they had one here in St. Andrews at The Open, going back to Faldo’s victory in 1990. Many imagined McIlroy to be the man to end that wait. After hitting a 6-under-66 on Thursday, he scored a 68 on Friday to sit elegantly in third.

“I felt so much in control of everything,” McIlroy said.

It’s been eight years since McIlroy won a major championship. Came here to play some great golf. How he loves to end the wait here and expel those demons from seven years back when he missed coming to St. Andrews as the Open title holder after being injured while playing football in reinforcements.

“I just need to go out and play my game and play golf for the next couple of days and that’s all I can do,” McIlroy said. “Cam Smith goes out and fires two more rounds like he did the first two days, I’m going to have a really tough time winning the championship. So I have to go out and do my best and worry about myself. I hope this is good enough.”

When it comes to the long wait, Adam Scott is in the same boat here, having last won in 2013, but he’s also in Group G under. He also wants to relieve some of the earlier pain, having dropped 4 shots with four holes remaining in 2012 at Royal Lytham & St. that.

“Anytime I think about letting someone get away with it, it hurts,” Scott said Friday. “And it would be exciting to take a really great run [on Saturday] To overcome the legitimate feeling of being in disagreement, not only for the fact that I had not really been in this position for a short time, but also for the fact that I was in this position a jug, I feel it, and I would wear two.”

As always, there are those who have been at odds a little longer heading into The Open. This contest has an impressive record of surprise winners, so both Cameron Young and Seth Thegala have a chance. Young is lonely in second, two shots back and plays alongside Smith in Saturday’s final pairing. Thigala tied for eight and six back shots.

“It’s obviously a special place for golfers, especially competitive golfers who play one of our greatest tournaments on one of our oldest and greatest golf courses, and it’s a lot of fun,” Young said. “But I will just try to do my job for the next few days.”

Lurking a little deeper is Zander Shaveli (5 under) and Jordan Spieth (4 under). Neither of them came out with plenty of golf left to play.

One of the local takeaways here has a “Munch Box” – it’s basically a mix of everything in one, perfect for those who find it hard to decide what to go for. And this weekend’s leaderboard is of Munch Box proportions.

Street. Andrews Place Golf Tales. Some of the world’s best players bid farewell to the tournament at Suilkan Bridge. There are those who made their careers here. Some have experienced the kind of heartbreak from which their careers never recovered.

Whoever tops the leaderboard on Sunday will have kept his nerve and passed all the dangers of ending the championship in the old stadium. As stated above the runway on the eighteenth, “everything led to this”. But the sheer unpredictability of this tournament means that no one really knows where exactly this story will lead and what the outcome will be by Sunday evening.

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