The Open Championship, or the British Open as it is also known by, will be played at Royal Liverpool (Hoylake), from July 17 – July 20. The third of golf’s annual major’s is played on alternating venues each year and this will be the first event at Royal Liverpool since 2006, where Tiger Woods successfully defended the Claret Jug. On this occasion Woods lead the field after the completion of rounds 2 and 3. He was in second place at the completion of round 1.
In the past 20 years there has been only 1 wire-to-wire winner of the event. That was Tiger Woods in 2005 at St. Andrews. Woods recorded rounds of 66-67-71-70 to win by 5 shots over his nearest competitor. In 1995, also at St. Andrews, John Daly had a share of the lead at the completion of both rounds 1 and 2, before dropping to 4th place in round 3 and eventually winning in a playoff.
When analysing the past 20 years of Open data it can be seen that while wire-to-wire successes are uncommon, the eventual winner does tend to well placed on the leader board at the end of round 1. In-fact, 10 of the past 20 winners were placed fifth or better after round 1, 14 of the last 20 winners were all placed inside of the top 10 after round 1.
The worst placed winner at the completion of round 1 was Mark O’Meara at Birkdale in 1998. O’Meara was in 62nd position after round 1 but his good second round moved him into 6th position after 2 rounds. Similar scenarios occurred with Todd Hamilton at Royal Troon in 2004 and Padraig Harrington in 2008 at Royal Birkdale. Hamilton was in 40th position after round 1 but his second round saw him move into 5th position after 2 rounds. Harrington meanwhile, was in 38th position after round 1, before moving into 4th position after round 2 along the way to successfully defending the championship.
When looking at the position of the winner after the second round the trend becomes even clearer. Eight of the last 20 winners were actually leading the British Open after 2 rounds. Thirteen out of 20 were placed fifth or better while 16 out of 20 were inside of the top 10 after 2 rounds. David Duval at Royal Lytham and St. Anne’s, in 2001, was in 35th position and so represents the greatest comeback of the past 20 winners.