Fowler’s got this one in the bag

Published 6:20 pm Friday, July 15, 2016

What started as a gorgeous day for golf Thursday took a soggy turn Friday in Scotland at Royal Troon Golf Club.

The 145th Open Championship got off to a blustery start Friday morning and kept it up all day as the world’s best golfers battled the elements.

Standing sturdy as a lighthouse in the weather is Phil Mickelson, among all people. The 2013 Open winner shot a 63 Thursday, and had the shot at a 62 if it weren’t for an unfortunate lip-out on his final putt at 18. I swear, the ball must have rolled over a spike imprint to barely knock it off course, because it looked like it was going in up until the last millimeter.

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It’s a shame, because that would have been the course record. But he moved on, and dropped to 10-under Friday. He’s fairing well in the field, but I wouldn’t be too comfortable. Henrick Stenson is nipping at his heels with a beautiful -6 round on Friday to jump to second place and 9-under for the tournament.

Last year’s champion, Zach Johnson, is sitting at 5-under and fifth place.

But here’s who I have my money on this weekend: Rickie Fowler. He came in second place at the Open Championship in 2014 and has flirted with top finishes in majors over the past five years. He’s a talented links player and can navigate those courses well, as evident by his 2015 win at the Scottish Open.

Young and determined, I see Fowler approaching Mickelson and company steadily over the weekend, and then finally swooping in with a string of clutch holes on Sunday to either tie the leader or take the win. This is his tournament. That’s who my money is on.

As of Friday at 1 p.m., he is 2-under thru 12 (a little aggravating to see his two bogeys on 10 and 12), but it’s far from unsalvageable.

Of course, everybody is feeling good after the front nine, and then makes all their mistakes on the back nine. If the trend continues through the weekend, It could be anybody’s to lose.