U.S. Open: Can an international golfer win for the third straight year?

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published daily that focuses on stats that go beyond the numbers.

Jim Furyk at the 2008 Players Championship

Jim Furyk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The final round of the 118th U.S. Open tees off today at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. American Jim Furyk and Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell go into the final round tied for the lead at one-under-par.

Here’s a couple of stats to whet your appetite for today’s final round.

* First, can you answer this trivia question? What three countries have placed the most golfers in the top 10 of the U.S. Open in the last 25 years? You’re probably pretty sure you know one of the three countries, but if you can correctly name the countries that ranked second and third, you’ve aced the test.

The answer: The United States, England and South Africa.

Of the 12 players who currently make up the Top 10 (and ties) after the third round, there are seven Americans and five international players. The international contingent has won the last two U.S. Opens and six of the last eight. In this century, there have been only three Americans that have won this tournament: Tiger Woods (twice), Jim Furyk and Lucas Glover.

Following are the countries that have placed the most golfers in the top 10 of the U.S. Open in the last 25 tournaments.

United States: 69

England: 11

South Africa: 9

Australia: 7

Canada: 7

Spain: 6

Sweden: 6

Note: In the last five (2007-2011) U.S. Opens, the U.S. has placed 29 golfers in the top 10, followed by England with six and Sweden with five.

* Finally, in looking at the last 25 U.S. Opens, in how many of those tournaments has the eventual winner been in the lead or tied for the lead after the third round? The answer: 48 percent. In 10 of the last 25 tourneys, the eventual champion led after three rounds, and in two tourneys the winner was tied for the lead going in to the final round.

Following are the scenarios of each winner in the past 25 U.S. Opens:

Winner was the leader after the third round: 10

Winner was tied for the lead after the third round: 2

Winner was one shot back after the third round: 5

Winner was two shots back after the third round: 1

Winner was three shots back after the third round: 3

Winner was four shots back after the third round: 3

Winner was five or more shots back after the third round: 1

Note: No golfer has come from more than five shots back on the final day to win the U.S. Open since 1987. The largest third round deficit was in 1998 when Lee Janzen came from five shots back after the third round to beat Payne Stewart by one stroke for his second title.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

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