Saturday, July 16, 2016

British Open, final round: What to watch for

 

The 145th British Open at Royal Troon has reached its final day, and after all the wind and rain and bunkers and gorse, we’re in for a treat. We’ve got two of the game’s finest at the top of the leaderboard, and stars both new and old lurking right on the margins. Here’s what to watch for during Sunday’s final round.

Heavyweight Showdown: Call it “Brute Force In The Gorse.” In this corner, Phil Mickelson, the all-time great who could put an exclamation point on a signature career with a win. In the far corner, Henrik Stenson, the current Best Player Without A Major, an immensely popular Swede who’s never held a 54-hole lead in a major before. They’re both at least five strokes clear of the field, and Sunday’s showdown will have the feel of a Ryder Cup match play showdown. You won’t want to miss this one.

Big Names, Big Numbers: None of golf’s Fab Four (Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy) will figure in Sunday’s final in any way, barring a miracle. All four have had uncharacteristically mediocre outings all week, unable to get close to the leaders. The pressure and frustration have forced Spieth to snap that he’s not in a slump, and forced McIlroy to snap a club. At least they’ll all be able to get their rest during the Olympics.

Beef! Who’s Beef? Why, Andrew “Beef” Johnston, of course. The 27-year-old English golfer has been a jolly bearded journeyman for most of his career, but a win earlier this year at the Spanish Open vaulted him into this year’s British Open. He’s made the most of his chance, posting a 5-under card that’s good enough to get him into the penultimate pairing with Bill Haas. Beef’s smile while walking up the 18th at Troon on Saturday as crowds cheered his name was one of the best moments of the tournament.

Scottish weather: After wind and rain on Friday and a chill on Saturday, Sunday’s play shouldn’t be quite as dominated by the skies. But there’s still a 60 percent chance of rain throughout the day, and of course, Scottish weather changes faster than a Dustin Johnson drive flies, so take any and all predictions with a shakerful of salt.

Where to watch: For early risers or late partiers, Golf Channel will air the early part of the tournament from 4:30 to 7:30 a.m. Eastern. NBC will take over and air the tournament from 7:30 to its conclusion, expected to come around 2 p.m. ET. You can also stream the entire tournament right here on Yahoo Sports via NBC Sports.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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