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The 2012 edition of The Open Championship will begin today at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club in Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire, England. The course first hosted the tournament in 1926; this is the 11th time as the host course. The last time it was played at this course was in 2001 when American David Duval won the event.
Darren Clarke is the defending champion having won last year’s Open. International players have won four of the last five tournaments (Stewart Cink was the last American to win The Open Championship; he won in 2009).
Following are six stats you might not know about the last 10 The Open Championship tournaments.
Top 10 finishes by country: The United States has had 34 golfers finish in the Top 10 of the event since 2002, most of any country. Second is England with 16, followed by South Africa with 15. Completing the Top Five are Australia with nine and Spain with seven.
First-round leader score, and nationality: The first round leader in the last 10 tournaments has averaged 65.9. Nine different countries have had golfers lead or tied for the lead of The Open Championship after the first round since 2002. Those countries (and the number of their golfers who were either tied for or led the tourney after the first day): United States (4), Northern Ireland (3), Spain (2), England (2), Denmark (1), Australia (1), France (1), South Africa (1), Sweden (1).
Winners’ best round is the second round: The eventual winners since 2002 have had their best round on the second day. The last 10 champions have shot 68.5 in the second round, 68.8 in the first round, 69.1 in the final round, and 70.0 in the third round.
Best finish by an American: The lowest Top 10 finish by an American since 2002 was in 2002 when Scott Hoch finished tied for eighth. It is also the only time in the last 10 years that only one American finished in the Top 10. Last year, six Americans finished in the Top 10.
Americans with multiple Top 10 finishes since 2002: Tiger Woods finished in the Top 10 four times in the last 10 years of The Open Championship. He finished in the Top 10 four straight years from 2003-2006. His four Top 10 finishes top the list for Americans in this event. Other Americans with two or more Top 10 finishes since 2002: Ben Curtis, Davis Love III (three each); Phil Mickelson, Anthony Kim, Stewart Cink, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker (two each).
How did the third-round leader finish? The third round leader in the last 10 years won six championships. In two years (2007, 2009) the third round leader finished the fourth round tied for the lead but lost in a playoff (Sergio Garcia, ’07; Tom Watson, ’09). In the other two years (2003, 2008) the third round leader did not win the tournament on that final day. In 2003 Thomas Bjorn finished tied for second one stroke back after leading at the end of three rounds; in 2008, third-round leader Greg Norman finished tied for third, six shots behind the winner.
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