British Open: Big questions heading into Sunday

The 147th British Open wraps up on Sunday, and judging from the leaderboard, we could be in for a classic at Carnoustie. You’ve got the defending champion at the top of the heap, two young would-be-first-time winners right there with him … oh, yeah, and one of the greatest players in history lurking just a few strokes back. Get up early; this is going to be fun.

Who will win?

Defending champ Jordan Spieth ended a spectacular Saturday tied for the lead at -9. Right there with him are Xander Schauffele, the 2017 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, and Kevin Kisner, who’s held the lead or a share every day of the tournament. Spieth’s ability to win a tournament is well-documented; Kisner had the lead throughout last year’s PGA Championship but lost with a rocky Sunday.

They’ll have the edge going into Sunday — they’re two strokes clear of the field — but the unpredictable weather (more on that in a moment) won’t give anyone any peace.

Who could make a run?

Nine players are within four strokes of the lead, and even that might not be enough of a cushion for the leaders. The last two Opens at Carnoustie have ended with the winner coming from down 10 strokes (Paul Lawrie, 1999) and six strokes (Padraig Harrington, 2007) down entering the final day.

That said, the closest challengers include major winners Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson and Rory McIlroy at -5. Oh, and there’s a fella by the name of Tiger Woods at -5 too. He hasn’t won much of anything big in the last 10 years or so, but people seem to think he could make a run.

What will the weather do?

Saturday was one of the gentlest days in recent British Open history, and the result was a birdie-fest that let players charge from deep in the field toward the top of the leaderboard. Don’t look for Sunday to be anywhere near as benign; with forecasts for gusting winds up to 25 mph, we’re looking at field-leveling winds. With this leaderboard and this forecast, whoever hoists the Claret jug on Sunday will have earned it.

What will be the greatest challenge?

Even discounting the weather, the winner will need to get through Carnoustie’s closing four holes, which have scarred the cards of virtually every player in the field. Spieth, Kisner and many others atop the leaderboard have taken hits in those last holes, and they’ll be lurking out there waiting throughout the afternoon.

What time does it all begin?

Coverage begins at 4:30 a.m. Eastern on NBC. The leaders tee off at 9:45 a.m., with notables like Woods (9:25 a.m.) and Rory McIlroy (9:05 a.m.) going off earlier. See here for the full rundown of tee times.

Kevin Kisner looks to bring home his first major on Sunday at the British Open. (Reuters)

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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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