The wind is up at Muirfield, where a loaded leaderboard is starting the final round at the 142nd British Open Championship. As Jason Dufner demonstrated this morning, there are birdie opportunities out on the course and the greens are running a little bit slower, providing plenty of chances for shuffling on the first page of the leaderboard. With those conditions ahead of them, here are some power rankings for the final 10 golfers heading out at The Open on Sunday.
1. Adam Scott -- Even-Par, 4th Place -- The reigning Masters champion and 2012 British Open runner-up has not broken 70 at Muirfield this week, but he's my pick to win it on Sunday. I've written several times that Scott's victory at Augusta this season could open things up for a multiple-major run in the second half of his career, and I don't think he'll have to wait long. While he hasn't posted that low number in the 60s, Scott has steadily wielded that anchored putter to avoid the blow ups while the rest of the field fluctuates. It was at this championship last year that Scott collpased in historic fashion and perhaps cemented his status as a world-class, non-major winning player. But much has changed in the past 12 months, and I expect him to be there at the end while the rest of the leaderboard struggles.
2. Tiger Woods -- 1-Under, T2 -- The No. 1 player in the world has yet to put it all together at the 2013 Open, which is another example of just how incredible Tiger is given that he's still in second place. Tiger's obviously the most accomplished player on this leaderboard (and planet), but there's that constant refrain about how he's never won a major coming from behind. A costly mistake on the 17th hole on Saturday resulted in a dropped shot on a par-5, the holes he typically dominates for his path to victory. He's been the best player in the world this season, and his game is dramatically improved from the close call he had last year at Lytham. But his chipping and putting have been spotty this week, and I don't expect Tiger to pull off that first chasedown victory, with his playing partner instead getting the win.
3. Lee Westwood -- 3-Under, 1st -- The 54-hole leader is a familiar major championship contender. The 40-year-old Englishman has had so many close calls over the past five years, but this is just the second time he's slept on the 54-hole lead (the 2010 Masters the other). Westwood is one of the most accurate drivers and best ball strikers in golf, but the putter has repeatedly held him back from multiple major wins. That shakiness with the putter is always a threat to open things up for the field, and he's the ideal leader for Tiger to put together that first come-from-behind win. You're never rooting for a choke job, and I doubt Westwood implodes, but there's plenty of history here to suggest that the lead will slowly chip away.
4. Hunter Mahan -- 1-Under, T2 -- Mahan is another player who has been on the doorstep of a major championship several times. He's playing in the final group on Sunday for the second straight major, fizzling out with Phil Mickelson at Merion last month. He matched the low-round of the day on Saturday with a near-perfect 68, and he had all facets of his elite game running well. He'll likely get a major win before his career is over, just not this week with all the other gunners around him.
5. Angel Cabrera -- 1-Over, T5 -- It's a major championship so of course El Pato is right there in the mix. Cabrera is ice cold when it matters the most, as we saw at Augusta when he hit perhaps the best Sunday approach shot into No. 18 in that tournament's history. But he's bogeyed the 18th all three days this week, and played the final three holes in 2-over yesterday. It's hard to pick against Cabrera, but his 2013 Masters foil is the better option.
6. Phil Mickelson -- 2-Over, T9 -- Can Lefty go low? Mickelson has taken two steps back almost every time he picks up a birdie this week. But he's obviously much more comfortable on the links, winning last week's Scottish Open and hovering all this week. He's the best option to make up a five-shot deficit and post that low number on his outward nine. There are birdie chances set up this morning, and if Phil can put a little pressure on the last few groups before they ever get to the first tee, that could result in a fifth major championship and first Open title. But as always with Phil, the aggressive chasing strategy could quickly blow up and knock him out of it in the first hour of his round.
7. Ryan Moore -- 1-Over, T5 -- Moore has not had one of his better seasons, and this contention is particularly surprising given some of the struggles and big numbers he's posted recently. Moore is well-known for his amazing amateur career and ability to go super low and make huge jumps up leaderboards with rounds in the low 60s. He doesn't need that round today (and it won't be available at Muirfield) but there are just too many big names ahead of and around him.
8. Zach Johnson -- 1-Over, T5 -- The first-round leader has already demonstrated the ability to put a low round together here, shooting 66 on Thursday to open at 5-under. Johnson is in form after a playoff loss late last Sunday at the John Deere and that game has obviously traveled overseas with him. His accuracy off the tee and with his irons will certainly make him a threat, but he's failed to break par the last two days and given all the starpower on the leaderboard, he's not the best option.
9. Henrik Stenson -- 1-Over, T5 -- The Swede finally has his game back together after completely disappearing for a couple years following his rise inside the top five in the world rankings. Stenson has been solid all year, contending at the majors and The Players. Like Johnson, he's another accurate ball striker who typically avoids the big numbers that constantly lurk at a major championship venue. He's another great candidate to win his first major, but again, there are better options.
10. Francesco Molinari -- 2-Over, T9 -- Phil's playing partner, Molinari is one of the most consistent players on the Euro Tour and completely comfortable on this stage. But he'll be along for the ride with Phil today.
As we saw last year with Ernie Els, the British is absolutely a tournament where a player from outside the top 10 or six shots back can make that charge. Sergio Garcia, Brandt Snedeker and Jason Day all have the talent to make a run to the top of the board. The birdies are out there, as well as the larger crooked numbers, for plenty of movement on Sunday at The Open.