What's at stake for these 7 Open Championship contenders
With the first two rounds of the 149th Open Championship complete, it's clear which golfers have separated themselves from the pack and are considered serious contenders to win the Claret Jug.
An Open Championship victory is one of the game's biggest achievements and would be a welcome addition to any player's resume. But a victory at Royal St. George's would mean something different for each of these seven contenders.
Louis Oosthuizen has already been in contention at a major championship twice this year. Over his last nine major championship rounds played, his worst position at the conclusion of the day was third, which came following Round 2 of the U.S. Open.
A victory after Sunday would drastically change how people view Oosthuizen's career when it's over.
Since his lone major title at the 2010 Open - which is also Oosthuizen's only PGA TOUR win - he's finished as a runner-up at majors six times. Getting over that hump and doubling his career major win total would allow people to forget all of the near-misses and appreciate the veteran's remarkable play during majors.
Collin Morikawa (2 back)
Collin Morikawa has earned the opportunity to achieve a feat no golfer has accomplished. If the 24-year-old can erase his two-shot deficit and hoist the Claret Jug, he would become the first golfer to win two different majors while making their debut at the event.
That's something Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Walter Hagen, nor Ben Hogan can claim to have done.
Will Morikawa complete the comeback for his second major victory in as many years?
Jordan Spieth (3 back)
Jordan Spieth collected three major victories so quickly that he began drawing comparisons to Tiger. Everyone knew logging those wins over an 11-major stretch was an unsustainable rate, but few would have guessed that in 2021 he would still be stuck at three.
Now the 27-year-old could end his slump during majors after two brilliant rounds of 65 and 67. A win would make him the 30th player to secure at least four major titles in men's golf, and personal history is working in his favor.
Dustin Johnson (4 back)
Dustin Johnson flew up the leaderboard with a 5-under 65 on Friday to get within four of Oosthuizen with two rounds remaining. If Johnson can maintain his play from Round 2, there's a good chance the 35-year-old will be walking away with his first Open Championship victory and third career major win.
He would also become only the second world No. 1 to win The Open while holding the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking since its inception in 1986, according to the Twenty First Group's Justin Ray. Tiger has done that three times.
Scottie Scheffler (4 back)
Scottie Scheffler is turning into a powerhouse at majors after playing in six as a professional and finishing inside the top 10 in three.
This is Scheffler's debut at The Open, and he's unsurprisingly in a position to become the tournament's first first-timer to win since Ben Curtis in 2003. Additionally, if Scheffler can pull off the comeback, the victory would be his first PGA TOUR win.
Brooks Koepka (6 back)
Brooks Koepka is lurking, which is dangerous for the group he's trying to track down. The four-time major winner birdied his final three holes on Friday to make up for a sloppy double-bogey on No. 4.
Six shots is a big deficit, but if anyone can reel in the leaders, Koepka is capable. If he can climb out of the hole, Koepka will become only the 20th player in men's golf to win five majors, and he'd join the likes of Seve Ballesteros and Byron Nelson.
It would also be his first Open title, leaving the Masters as the only major he needs to complete the career grand slam.
Jon Rahm (6 back)
Jon Rahm is another contender with a ton of firepower who's six back of the leader. He played his first 17 holes this week at 2-over par, and Rahm has gone 7-under over his last 19. That type of birdie-making ability will be required to erase his deficit.
If the Spaniard can somehow catch the elite group he's pursuing, Rahm will accomplish something only Tiger, Ben Hogan, Lee Trevino, and Tom Watson have done before him, which is winning the U.S. Open and Open Championship back-to-back.
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