Stats & Info: Padraig Harrington
July, 17, 2012
By Chris Fallica, ESPN Stats & Information | ESPN.com
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Sergio Garcia is up to No. 23 in the world and poised to win his first major after five top-three finishes.
Last year's Open Championship provided a feel-good story for the ages, with 42 year-old Darren Clarke capturing his first major. Could 2012's feel-good story be Sergio Garcia?
Garcia may have caught some people off guard at the Masters when he spoke from the heart about his ability to win a major, "I'm not good enough ... I don't have the thing I need to have...In 13 years I've come to the conclusion that I need to play for second or third place."
His frustration is understandable. Garcia has five top-three finishes without a win - only three players have more (Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie and Doug Sanders.) His 52nd major as a pro might be the time for that elusive first win. Phil Mickelson had eight top-three finishes in his first 41 majors as a pro before his first win. Mickelson won his first major at age 33. Garcia turned 32 in January.
Garcia's game is far removed from the player who fell to No. 85 in the world before the 2011 Masters. He's up to No. 23 in the world and has finished in the top 12 in four of the last five majors. One reason for the turnaround, and optimism heading into this weekend, is his improved putting.
Garcia has made 87.4 percent of his putts from inside 10 feet on TOUR this season after making only 85.6 percent in 2011. Inside 5 feet, his make percentage ranks seventh on TOUR (97.9) after he finished 71st in 2011 (96.5).
Why can't he be the 10th straight first-timer to capture a major? The scene sets up perfectly to erase the ghosts of two of his biggest near-misses. Five years ago, Garcia had his only 54-hole lead in a major, bogeyed 15 and 18 en route to a final-round 73 before losing in a playoff to Padraig Harrington at Carnoustie.
His playing partner for the first two rounds, Tiger Woods, captured the 1999 PGA Championship at Garcia's expense. Despite a 1-under 71 in the final round with a crucial bogey on 15, a 19-year-old Garcia fell one shot short of Woods for the tournament.
July, 16, 2012
By ESPN Stats & Information | ESPN.com
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Darren Clarke was ranked 111th in the world when he won the 2011 Open Championship, the third straight winner ranked outside the top-10.
Since the beginning of 2009, fewer players ranked inside the Official World Golf Ranking top 10 have won majors (two) than players from outside the top 100 (three) including last year’s Open Championship winner, Darren Clarke (111th). The only two major winners from inside the top 10 over that span were Rory McIlroy (eighth at the 2011 U.S. Open) and Phil Mickelson (third at the 2010 Masters).
During the previous four-year span from 2005-2008, 10 of the 16 major champions were ranked inside the top 10 at the time of their victory and from 2001-08, 20 of the 32 major winners were ranked inside the top 10.
Long-shot winners have been particularly common at the Open Championship lately, as the last three winners have had an average world rank of 66 (Stewart Cink – 33rd in 2009, Louis Oosthuizen – 54th in 2010, and Darren Clarke – 111th in 2011). Padraig Harrington was the last top-10 golfer to win the Open Championship when he won as the 10th-ranked golfer in the world in 2007.
(For more on the recent run of parity in majors click here)
TIGER HOPING TO FOLLOW THE GOLDEN BEAR
Tiger Woods will tee off at 4:42 AM ET on Thursday in hopes of winning his 15th career major on TOUR. Jack Nicklaus won the 15th of his record 18 career majors at the Open Championship in 1978 at age 38. At age 36, Tiger is still on Nicklaus’ pace, but has gone without a major win since the 2008 U.S. Open.
This weekend will mark the third time in his career that Tiger has appeared in an Open Championship played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. In 2001, Woods finished in a tie for 25th, nine shots behind champion David Duval and in 1996 as an amateur, Tiger tied for 21st overall and posted the low score among non-professionals.
TIGER’S LAST WIN WAS OPENING ACT OF HISTORIC RUN
There are similarities between Tiger’s TOUR play in 2012 and his play leading up to his last Open Championship win in 2006 and that may bode well for him moving forward.
In both seasons, Woods will have entered the Open with four top-five finishes and multiple wins on TOUR (two in 2006, three in 2012).
Tiger not only won the Open Championship in 2006, but it also kick-started a run that saw him win his next six PGA TOUR events. The seven-consecutive wins on TOUR were the 2nd-longest streak in PGA history and the longest in over 60 years. Only Byron Nelson’s streak of 11-straight wins in 1945 was longer.
April, 6, 2012
By ESPN Stats & Info | ESPN.com
Tim Dominick/The State/MCT via Getty Images
Since the beginning of 2009, 49 rounds have been held in major championships, Lee Westwood has been in the top-10 following 21 of them during that span, the most among all golfers.
Since the beginning of 2009, there have been 49 rounds in major championships. Westwood has been in the top 10 following 21 of them - 41.7 percent.
History tells us leading, or at least sharing the lead, after the first round of the Masters does not bode well. Just one player in the previous 27 years has won the Masters after holding at least a share of the first-round lead. That was Trevor Immelman, who was tied with Justin Rose after the first round in 2008. The last player to win the Masters after holding the outright first-round lead was Ben Crenshaw in 1984.
Tiger Woods shot an even-par 72 and was tied for 29th after the opening round. That might sound like he’s out of contention, but the last time he was this far back after the opening round was 2005 when he was tied for 33rd. That year he went on to win the Masters, his last win there. Looking ahead to Friday, he’ll hope to repeat that 2005 success. He shot a 66 in the second round en route to his win.
After a double bogey on 1, Rory McIlroy had played 10 consecutive holes at the Masters in 9-over par. However, McIlroy birdied 17 and 18 – one of two players to accomplish that Thursday (Louis Oosthuizen) – and finished at 1-under. McIlroy hit just 6 of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens.
Phil Mickelson triple-bogeyed the 10th hole, but rallied to birdie three of the final six holes. Mickelson’s putter saved him (a first-round low 25 putts), as he hit only eight of 18 greens and nine of 14 fairways. The triple bogey was the second of his Masters career (in his 75th round). His other triple bogey was on the first hole in the fourth round of the 2007 Masters.
Adam Scott's 75 snapped a streak of six straight round of par or better at the Masters.
Padraig Harrington's 71 was his first sub-par round at the Masters since the first round in 2009.
After an opening-round 71, Steve Stricker has six straight rounds of par or better at the Masters.
Francesco Molinari's 69 was his best career round at the Masters.
• Hole No. 1 played the toughest Thursday (4.379). Only three players made birdie (Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Dufner, Peter Hanson).
• Predictably, the 11th hole was second toughest (4.368), yielding only three birdies as well (Ben Crane, Vijay Singh, Hanson).
• No. 16 rated the third toughest (3.168). The only birdies there coming from Sang-Moon Bae, Francesco Molinari and Chez Reavie.
• There were eight eagles, with half coming from two players – Henrik Stenson and Paul Lawrie.