Over two days on a tough links course, with wind and rain forecast, a seven shot swing is not only possible it is probable. And with just seven shots covering the entire field of 71 players the winner of the Claret Jug is impossible to predict.
Some of the leading players in the hunt for the title have already experienced wild fluctuations in their scoring. Thomas Bjorn followed his opening 65 with a 72, but is still just one behind leaders Darren Clarke and Lucas Glover. Young English amateur Tom Lewis, joint leader with Bjorn on the first day, took nine shots more to complete his second round and Miguel Angel Jimenez, one of the most experienced players and a winner 18 times on the European Tour, added five shots to his opening 66 the second time around.
Light rain and an increasing southerly wind are sweeping across the course as Matthew Millar of Australia gets the third round in motion. There are some classic pairings throughout the day before Clarke and Glover set out at 3.05 this afternoon.
Defending champion Louis Oosthuizen, who handled the bad weather so effectively at St Andrews last year, tees off at 10.40 with seven-time Ryder Cup player and 2003 US Open champion Jim Furyk. Just under an hour later 2009 Open Champion Stewart Cink is paired with Stephen Gallacher, winner of the 2004 Dunhill Links, who is showing a welcome return to form after a lengthy period blighted by illness and injury.
Charismatic Sergio Garcia, who lost a play-off for the title against Padraig Harrington in 2007, tees off at 12.25 with America’s Spencer Levin and is immediately followed by the young gun pairing of Ricky Fowler with recently crowned US Open champion Rory McIlroy.
Having enjoyed the first two rounds of his Open debut in company with five-time champion Tom Watson, 20-year-old amateur Tom Lewis will play the third round alongside former Masters and USPGA champion Phil Mickelson at 1.50. Charl Schwartzel, winner of the Masters in April, who showed something of his true form with an equal best of the day 67 yesterday, plays at 2.35 with Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal.
Then comes Miguel Angel Jimenez with Thomas Bjorn at 2.45 and Martin Kaymer, the USPGA Champion of 2010 and American Chad Campbell are out in the penultimate pairing at 2.55.
Joint leaders Lucas Glover, winner of the 2009 US Open, partners a resurgent Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland at 3.05. He finished second in The Open at Troon in 1997 and third at Lytham in 2001.