Stats & Info: Matt Kuchar
July, 17, 2013
By ESPN Stats & Information | ESPN.com
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.
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty ImagesPeter Hanson finds himself in an usual position heading into the final round of the Masters, leading a major after 54 holes for the first time.Moving day at the Masters saw plenty of shuffling on the leaderboard, as the best rounds were shot by those outside the final three pairings.
Seven players entered the third round within one stroke of the lead. Of that group, only two golfers broke par on Saturday. Louis Oosthuizen and Bubba Watson shot 3-under par and will be paired together in the second to last group on Sunday.
The eventual Masters champion has come out of the final Sunday pairing 19 out of the last 21 years, but both exceptions came in the last five events. Last year’s champion Charl Schwartzel was tied for second but played in the penultimate group, and Zach Johnson was tied for fourth in 2007.
Only one Masters champion has come from outside the top-10 on the leaderboard after 54 holes. Art Wall Jr. was six strokes back and tied for 13th heading into the final round before winning the title in 1959.
This year’s PGA TOUR has seen several large comebacks on Sunday. Four different golfers have come from at least six shots down in the final round to win a title.
The last 13 majors have been won by 13 different players. Also in that span, the last seven and 10 of the last 11 champions have been first-time major winners. Phil Mickelson at the 2010 Masters was the only exception.
Sunday’s final pairing
The final pairing on Sunday will be Peter Hanson and Mickelson.
Before finishing with the third-round lead, Hanson had never been within five shots of the lead entering the final round of a major. In the first three rounds, he leads the field with 18 birdies.
Hanson recorded the ninth score of 65 of better in the Masters third round over the last 40 years. Only two of the previous eight instances led to a title. Tiger Woods won at Augusta in 1997 and 2005 after shooting seven-under in the third round.
After shooting nine straight pars to start the round, Mickelson was six-under on the back nine. His 66 on Saturday was his first career round of six-under or better on the weekend in a major.
With a win, Mickelson can match Woods and Arnold Palmer with his fourth green jacket. Only Jack Nicklaus, with six, would have more.
Mickelson and Woods have been identical statistically this week, with one major exception. Woods has needed 10 more putts to complete his rounds.
Louis Oosthuizen: looking to become the sixth player to win the Masters and Open Championship at St. Andrew’s
Matt Kuchar: within five shots of the lead entering the final round of a major for the first time
Sergio Garcia: after shooting a 75 on Saturday, hasn’t broken par in the third round of the Masters since 2002
Rory McIlroy: his 77 on Saturday was the third time in 13 career rounds at the Masters that he shot five-over or worse
Tiger Woods: failed to birdie a par-5 the last two rounds after only failing to birdie twice in his first 61 rounds at the Masters as a professional