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Defending 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.
Most Professional Majors Won
• 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.
Most Top-3 Finishes in a Major
Without a Victory Since 1934
• 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.