Open: The Final Table is Set

Continuing the poker analogy from Friday and Saturday’s post. We are down to the last couple of cards at the Open.

It was an interesting day at the CordeValle Golf Club because it continued the thread that began with Nick O’Hern’s course record 62 on Thursday. But he couldn’t manage to break par on Friday and his place on top of the leaderboard was taken over by John Mallinger’s 62.

And then Mallinger did the same thing O’Hearn did; he was unable to follow up his low round with another. In fact, with two bogeys and a birdie, he was 1-over at the turn. But he hung in there with two birdies on the back and managed to at least finish with a 1-under round. That got him to 15-under and he leads by two over rising star, Jonas Blixt.

For his part, Blixt shot up five spots by shooting 5-under 66. His wasn’t a course record, but it was one of the lowest. John Rollins had the low round of the day at 7-under 64, two guys shot 6-under 65 and six guys joined Blixt with 66s. In other words, Mallinger was “Mallingered” by Blixt.

Meanwhile, O’Hearn shot yet another Even par round and has fallen out of contention to T12, six shots back.

Charles Howell III was one of the other guys who shot 66. That vaulted him into the Sunday’s last tee time with Mallinger and Blixt.

So we’ll have three pretty interesting characters in that last group:

  • Mallinger has all of the tools, but he’s been on the Tour for six years and has yet to win.
  • Blixt has come out of nowhere, an apprentice on the Tour for three years and Florida State before that. But he’s been so hot lately, I wrote “Jonas Blixt: Knocking on the Door,” based on his performance in Las Vegas. A real firecracker, this one.
  • Charles Howell III has yet to live up to his press clippings coming out of Oklahoma State in 2000. While he has won twice, his putting has perennially kept him from realizing his true potential. His golf swing is a classic, but God never gives you everything.

So it will make for very interesting viewing to watch these three go at it on Sunday. And if they slip or focus too much on each other, the three guys in the next to the last group, Vijay Singh, Alexandre Rocha and Jason Kokrak, all had good days Saturday.

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