Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Top stats to know: The Open Championship
By ESPN Stats & Information
oss Kinnaird/Getty Images
Royal Liverpool will play just 54 yards longer than it did in 2006, when Tiger Woods won.
Twenty-four major championships have come and gone since Tiger Woods last won one, the 2008 U.S. Open. That’s more than twice as long as his next-longest drought since he played his first full season as a professional in 1997.
Woods returns to Royal Liverpool this week, the site of his third and most recent Open Championship victory (2006). He famously hit his driver just once that week, finishing at 18 under (the second-lowest score to par in the history of the Open Championship) and 14 under on the par 5s.
Let’s run through some of the key stats for a few notable players who could make things interesting at this year's Open Championship.
Woods is winless this season and has never won a major without winning another event earlier in the season.
Woods has rarely put himself in contention in recent majors, largely due to his struggles on the weekend. He’s a cumulative 27 over on the weekend in his past 12 major starts.
In his 2006 victory in Hoylake, Woods made short work of the par 5s, holing 10 birdies and two eagles on those four holes (14 under) over the course of the week.
Woods turned 38 in December and is still four major titles shy of tying Jack Nicklaus. It's worth noting that only two players have won four or more majors after their 38th birthday since the “modern” era of majors began in 1934 with the first Masters Tournament: Ben Hogan (five) and Nicklaus (four).
So how does Woods' drought of 18 majors played without a win compare to major droughts of other golf greats?
Nicklaus went 20 majors between his win at age 40 in the 1980 PGA Championship and his miraculous win at age 46 in the 1986 Masters.
Gary Player's longest span between major wins was 15. Tom Watson's was 11.
Hogan never had a stretch longer than four between major wins, and Arnold Palmer never had one longer than five.
Mickelson, the event’s defending champion, enters this year’s Open without a single top-10 finish on the PGA Tour and no wins worldwide. He's looking to become the first golfer to win back-to-back Opens since Padraig Harrington in 2007-2008.
It’s the first time in his career that Mickelson has entered the Open Championship without at least one top-10 finish on the PGA Tour and the first time since 2003 that he comes in without a win.
Looking for the cause of his woes? Look no further than the putter -- he's struggling on short putts again, an area where he had improved over the past few years. He’s currently tied for 108th on the PGA Tour in 1-putt percentage inside 10 feet.
This event has been kind to veterans in recent years, however. Each of the past three Open champions (Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Mickelson) was in his 40s. It’s the only time in the 20th century we’ve seen three straight 40-year-old winners at a single major.
Adam Scott is trying to become the fourth player ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking to win a major. The other three are Tiger Woods (11 times), Fred Couples (once) and Ian Woosnam (once).
Each of the last 12 majors contested have featured Scott making the cut. That’s twice as long as the next active streak (six, by five different golfers).