Phil Mickelson starts day three of the 2016 Open Championship as 2/1 favourite to win the sixth major of his career and first in three years after seeing his advantage reduced from three shots after the first 18 holes to one after 36, with Henrik Stenson his closest challenger at 9/4.
In an effort to ascertain how strong the American’s chances of holding on for victory are, let’s look at how the previous four halfway leaders when the Open was held at Royal Troon ended the weekend:
2004 – Skip Kendall
Having been three off the pace on day one, the American equalled the 66 score that had driven Paul Casey and Thomas Levet into top spot on day two to overtake both. A horror Saturday, carding 75, transformed him from being one shot ahead to five behind, and it got worse in the final round, when a 72 wiped him out of the top 10.
1997 – Darren Clarke
Clarke earned a share of the lead with a first-round 67 and went one better on Friday to move two clear of the field. As with Kendall, his standard slipped on Saturday, but a 71 kept him in contention, two shy of Jasper Parnevik. He went round in 71 again on Sunday, tying for second with the Swede as Justin Leonard passed both. It took another 14 years for the Northern Irishman’s major moment to finally arrive.
1989 – Wayne Grady
Being the most consistent performer over the first 36 holes, scoring 68 and 67, was enough to earn Grady a two-stroke cushion at the beginning of the weekend. Even a slight regression to 69 only saw his margin halved by Tom Watson, yet the pressure of the final day told as a 71 allowed Greg Norman (with an exceptional 64) and Mark Calcavecchia to pull level, with the latter outplaying the two Australians in the playoff to claim the one major of his career.
Finished: T2 (lost playoff)
1982 – Bobby Clampett
Unlike the other three golfers on this list, Clampett was out on his own in front at the conclusion of the first day’s play. In fact, he led by two shots at that stage and stretched it to five on halfway. Even a slump from 67 and 66 to 78 on day three didn’t wipe out his advantage, as he entered the final round still one ahead. Unfortunately, he reprised his day-three “form” rather than what came before, and a 77 caused him to abseil from first to T10 as Tom Watson climbed from fifth to triumph.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.