Stats & Info: Dustin Johnson

Top Stats to Know: Open Championship

July, 17, 2013
Ross Kinnaird/Getty ImagesDefending champion Ernie Els is looking to do something that hasn't been done in over 100 years.
The Open Championship tees off at Muirfield early Thursday morning, with coverage starting at 4 a.m. Eastern on ESPN. To get you ready, we take you through 18 things you need to know.

•  Muirfield is hosting the Open Championship for the 16th time. Among venues currently in the Open Championship rotation, only St. Andrews has hosted more often.

•  Eight of the last 13 leaders after 54 holes have gone on to win the Open Championship. And 11 of the 13 champions were in the Top-3 entering Sunday.

•  The last 19 majors contested have produced 18 different winners. Rory McIlroy (2011 U.S. Open, 2012 PGA Championship) is the only player to win multiple major titles during this span.

•  Twenty major championships have come and gone since Tiger Woods last victory. That’s twice as long as the next longest drought since Woods played his first full season as a professional in 1997.

•  Tiger missed four of those majors and has only two Top-3 finishes in his last 16 majors. Over his first 46 majors, he had 14 victories and 22 Top-2 finishes.

•  Woods has struggled recently on Saturday and Sunday in the majors. In his last six majors, he is 6-under in the first two rounds and 21-over in rounds three and four. He has not shot a subpar round on the weekend at the Open Championship since 2007.

•  Muirfield is the site of the worst round of Tiger’s major career as a professional. He shot an 81 in the third round in 2002, four shots worse than any other round he’s played at a major as a pro.

•  Ernie Els returns to defend his Open Championship at Muirfield, where he won the last time the Open was contested here. He’s the first player since Greg Norman at Turnberry in 1994 to attempt a title defense while also being the last winner at a particular venue.

•  The only time a golfer successfully defended an Open Championship while also being the last winner at the current course? James Braid at Muirfield in 1906.

•  Rory McIlroy has a history of starting fast at the Open Championship. In five appearances, he has averaged a 67.6 in the first round but slumped to a 72.9 average over the last three rounds.

•  Phil Mickelson hasn’t had much success across the pond – he has only two Top-10 finishes in 19 career Open Championships, and last year was the fourth time he missed the cut.

•  Matt Kuchar is another golfer who isn’t a fan of the Open Championship. He has missed the cut in six of eight appearances, but finished tied for ninth last year.

•  Lee Westwood has never won a major, but has finished in the Top-3 seven times since 2008. Those seven Top-3 finishes without a major title are the most since 1934.

•  Dustin Johnson is the only player under par at the Open Championship in the last two years combined.

•  Johnson is also the only player to finish in the Top 15 each of the last three years.

•  Sergio Garcia has 18 Top-10 finishes in majors, with seven of those coming at the Open Championship.

•  Louis Oosthuizen is one of four South African players to win the Open Championship; the other three have all won multiple times.

•  Only four players have made the cut in each of the last six majors -– Jason Dufner, Adam Scott, Steve Stricker (who is not at Muirfield) and Tiger Woods.

Garcia, Westwood 'almost' have formula

August, 8, 2012

AP Photo/Peter MorrisonSergio Garcia has 17 top-10s in majors but has never won a major championship.
The PGA Championship is billed as “Glory’s Last Shot.” For many elite players who are without a major championship to their credit, that marketing slogan is more and more true every year.

Lee Westwood has won 22 times on the European Tour, but never a major. He turns 40 in April. Steve Stricker has won 12 times on the PGA TOUR and is major-less. He’ll be 46 in February.

But which player in this week’s PGA Championship is really the best without a major title?

The “Almost Index” is a formula that attempts to statistically deduce who the best player in the world is without a major title. The formula takes into account PGA TOUR wins and top-10’s, European Tour wins and top-10’s, success in major championships, and holding a 54-hole lead in a major.

Here are your top five in the Almost Index entering the PGA Championship:

5. Dustin Johnson
PGA + European Tour wins: 6
Top-10’s in majors: 5
Almost Index: 22.8

In his young career, Johnson has been the definition of “almost” in majors. He held a three-shot lead entering the final round of 2010 U.S. Open. He had an untimely rules violation later that year at the PGA Championship. And he was in contention on Sunday last year at the Open Championship before a triple-bogey on the 14th hole.

4. Steve Stricker
PGA + European Tour wins: 12
Top-10’s in majors: 9
Almost Index: 24.9

Stricker has eight wins in the last four years but has been a non-factor in major championships. Stricker’s last top-5 finish in a major came at the 1999 U.S. Open. No active player on the PGA TOUR today has more wins without a major title than Stricker.

3. Adam Scott
PGA + European Tour wins: 13
Top-10’s in majors: 8
Almost Index: 25.3

Only two players since 1960 have blown a 54-hole lead of four-or-more shots at the Open Championship: Jean Van de Velde and Adam Scott. Scott has finished in the top-15 in each of the last four majors, and has a pair of runner-up finishes in majors in the last two years.

2. Lee Westwood
PGA + European Tour wins: 24
Top-10’s in majors: 14
Almost Index: 33.7

Lee Westwood has finished in the top-3 in seven major championships, the most for anyone in the modern era without a victory. At the U.S. Open this year, he entered Sunday just three shots back of leaders Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell, but made double-bogey on the fifth hole and never recovered.

1. Sergio Garcia
PGA + European Tour wins: 16
Top-10’s in majors: 17
Almost Index: 33.8

Westwood has closed the gap on Garcia, but the perennial leader of the “Almost Index” remains at the top of the list for now. Garcia has 17 top-10 finishes in majors since the 1999 PGA -- more than Vijay Singh (16) or Furyk (12) in that same span. Garcia missed the cut at the Open Championship this year after finishing tied for 38th at the U.S. Open.
Admittedly, the best storylines from Darren Clarke's win at the Open Championship are those that can't be quantified. The story of Clarke's long road back from the 2006 death of his wife has been told elsewhere. And while Clarke's first major championship is above all a personal triumph, we would be remiss to not examine its implications for his homeland of Northern Ireland.

With Clarke's win, golfers from Northern Ireland have now three of the last six majors. That means that over the last 13 months, Northern Ireland (population approximately 1.8 million) has won exactly as many major titles as the rest of the globe (population approximately 6.9 billion).

Clarke's win comes less than a month after his countryman Rory McIlroy's U.S. Open win at Congressional. Northern Ireland is the first country other than the U.S. to have different golfers win consecutive majors in more than a century. Prior to Sunday, it hadn't happened since 1910, when Scotland's Alex Smith and James Braid won U.S. Open and Open Championship, respectively.

If a golfer of Clarke's nationality winning a major title isn't unusual, one of his age and recent major pedigree certainly is. At 42, Clarke is the oldest first-time major champion since Tom Kite won the 1992 U.S. Open, also at 42. And the sight of Clarke near the top of a major leaderboard on Sunday is something that hadn't been seen in quite some time entering 2011. Clarke played in 12 majors from 2006-10, missing the cut 12 times and never finishing better than his tie for 22nd at the 2002 Masters.

Then again, predicting major champions is harder than ever. After Clarke's win, 12 different golfers have now won the last 12 majors, including six straight first-time major winners.

Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson shared runner-up honors at 2-under, leading the pack of five Americans who finished tied for fifth or better. Despite the multiple American flags near the top of the leaderboard, the U.S. now has no wins in the last six major championships, a streak that started after Mickelson's win at last year's Masters. It's the longest streak of majors played ever without an American winner.

Clarke threatens to add to American drought

July, 16, 2011
Six players are under par heading into the final round of the 2011 Open Championship, and only one has ever won a major (Lucas Glover, who is four shots back, won the 2009 U.S. Open).
Darren Clarke
Therefore, the odds favor there being a first-time major winner on Sunday, extending one major streak in the process.

Over the last 11 majors played, there have been 11 different winners. It's the longest stretch since 2002-05, when there were 12 consecutive different major winners (spanning the 2002 Open Championship to the 2005 U.S. Open).

Leader Darren Clarke, who turns 43 next month, would be the first player over 40 to win a major since Vijay Singh at the 2004 PGA Championship. The last player over the age of 40 to win his first major was Mark O’Meara, who was 41 when he won the 1998 Masters.

Clarke's best finish at a major was at the 1997 Open Championship when he finished tied for second.

If he wins on Sunday, Clarke would be the first player from Northern Ireland to win the Open since Fred Daly in 1947.

Teeing off in the final pairing with Clarke is American Dustin Johnson, the third time in the last six majors that he’s been in the final pairing. Last year, Johnson led the U.S. Open by three shots but finished tied for eighth following a final round 82. At last year’s PGA Championship, he finished tied for fifth after a two-stroke penalty on 18 cost him a shot in a playoff.

One stroke off the lead, Johnson is the top hope for an American contingent that's looking to end a drought in majors. For the first time in Major Championship Golf history, five consecutive majors have been won by Non-Americans.

In addition to Johnson, Rickie Fowler (T-3rd), Glover (T-5th), Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III and Anthony Kim are all within five strokes of the leader.