No, Mickelson does not have to "defy the odds"

Here: "None of this means Mickelson is doomed; it only means that he'll have to defy the odds."

This statement reflects the modern tendency to assign the mathematical formulas of probability the same role as "Fate" played in the classical worldview, or witchcraft does for the Zande.

There are no "odds" working against Mickelson simply because the 36-hole leader at Royal Troon has only won The Open two out of eight times. Mickelson is only competing with the other golfers on the course with him: all he has to do is to keep scoring better than they do, and he will win. He does not, besides beating them, also have to defeat some divine being called "the odds." If eight out of the previous eight 36-hole leaders had gone on to win, that would not make Mickelson's task one bit easier, and if zero out of eight had won, it would not make his task one bit harder. (All of this, of course, is barring the possibility that Mickelson has adopted the same mystical belief in the power of "the odds" that this sportswriter has: that might present some psychological barrier to Mickelson winning, but it would be that belief, and not "the odds" themselves, that stood in his way.)

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