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British Open: Big questions heading into the weekend

We’re halfway home at the 147th British Open, and we’ve got ourselves a fine little tournament shaping up. Big names, big swings, big opportunities abound. Let’s dig in.

Who’s going to win?

So many options! Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner sit atop the leaderboard at -6, Johnson because he played his way up, Kisner because he played his way down … with a double-bogey on the 18th. Right behind them are Tommy Fleetwood, Pat Perez and Xander Schauffle at -5, three would-be-first-time major winners. Fleetwood’s probably the best pick out of that trio. Rory McIlroy, perhaps his generation’s best player across the board, sits one more stroke back, as does Matt Kuchar, the victim of wicked fate (and Jordan Spieth) last year at this tournament. Spieth and Rickie Fowler are at -3, well within striking distance.

In short, you’ve got plenty of storylines and plenty of challengers at Carnoustie. It’ll be a fun weekend.

Who could make a run?

The fact that so many players are bunched at the top of the leaderboard means it’ll be tough for anyone to come from very far back. But if we define “run” as “anybody five strokes or farther back,” take a good hard look at Brooks Koepka. He’s been one of the most successful golfers of the last few years, and he’s got the ability to crank out half a dozen birdies per side without even breathing hard. But 17 players are within four strokes of the top, and that’s a huge crowd to overrun.

What will the weather be like?

It appears the rain’s over and done with, for the most part; forecasts indicate gray skies, light wind, and low-60s temperatures all the way on through Sunday evening. In other words, it’s classic Scottish summer weather … which also means it could all change in a matter of minutes. But the odds are that this will come down to a battle of player vs. player, not player vs. elements.

What will be the greatest challenge?

The final four holes. They victimized everyone from Kisner to Finau to Spieth to Fowler, leaving bruises on each of their scorecards. Midway through the Friday round, holes 1-14 were playing a combined 257 strokes over par, while the final four holes were a combined 330 over par. That’s a lot of trouble lurking at the end of every round

How about Tiger and Phil?

Well, both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are playing the weekend, so that’s good news. Both are at even par, six strokes off the lead, which is also good news. But they’ve got two dozen golfers between them, and both haven’t quite had the game to give you the belief that they could make a charge.

We’ll find out soon enough who’s got the game for the Claret jug. The British Open starts up again at 4:30 a.m. Eastern on Saturday.

Zach Johnson co-leads the British Open after Day 2. (Getty)

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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