Category Archives: Golf

British Open: Six stats you might not know about the last 10 tournaments

Golf practice British Open

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

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.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp


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.

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U.S. Open: Second Round is the key for the eventual winner!

111th U.S. Open Championship

(Photo credit: Keith Allison)

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

There is good news and bad news for Michael Thompson

First the good news: In his very first U.S. Open, Thompson has the lead after the first round, and he leads by three shots.

The bad news: He is the first-round leader in the U.S. Open.

History has not been kind to first-round leaders in the U.S. Open. In fact, in the past 25 years, only five first-round leaders have gone on to win the tournament. Rory McIlroy was a wire-to-wire winner last year. The others: Tiger Woods, 2002; Retief Goosen, 2001; Tiger Woods, 2000; and Payne Stewart, 1991.

Speaking of Tiger, he is three shots back, tied for second place. Since 1987, 15 of the 25 men who won the event were in the Top 10 after the first round. Good news for Tiger… and about 13 other golfers.

Taking a look at the last 25 U.S. Open champions, we see that the second round is key to their tournament. In 12 of the 25 of the champions rounds, the second round was their lowest score of the four rounds. The first round was the lowest round for six champions; the third round was lowest round for two champs; and the fourth round was the lowest round for one champion. For four champions, their lowest round was a tie between two different rounds (for the record, the second round was tied in three of those four, meaning that 15 of the 25 champions had their lowest round or tied for the lowest round on Day 2 of the tournament).

Following is a look at which rounds the last 25 champions had the best average round from 1987-2011.

Average score per round of champion in last 25 U.S. Opens

First Round: 69.44

Second Round: 68.04

Third Round: 70.48

Fourth Round: 70.36

(A note of interest: Did you notice that the average first-round score of the eventual winner was 69.44? Tiger shot 69 yesterday! I’m just saying.)

The U.S. Open winner from 1987-2011 (25 champions) scored lower in the second round over the first round in 14 of the 25 years (the champion shot the same score in both first and second rounds in one year). In 11 of those 14 second rounds, the score was at least three strokes lower than Round One.

Here’s a look at which round the last 25 U.S. Open champions had the most rounds in the 60’s.

Rounds in the 60s

First Round: 12

Second Round: 18

Third Round: 9

Fourth Round: 11

Did you know? Only two U.S. Open champions in the last 25 years has shot in the 60s in each of their four rounds. Rory McIlroy did it last year with 65-66-68 and 69 on the way to his eight-stroke victory, and Lee Janzen had four rounds in the 60s when he shot 67-67-69-69 in his two-stroke win over Payne Stewart in 1993.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Tiger Woods wins 73rd tourney; 70 golfers have now finished second to Tiger in his wins!

English: in 2007 Esperanto: en la jaro 2007

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

In a tournament that Jack Nicklaus hosts and on a course that he designed, Tiger Woods won his 73rd PGA tournament yesterday at the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, tying him with Nicklaus for second on the all-time wins list. (They trail Sam Snead who had 82 victories.)

Woods shot a five-under-par 67 to win by two shots over Rory Sabbatini and Andres Romero. For Sabbatini, it was the second time in his career that he finished second to Tiger in a tournament. For Romero, he becomes the 70th golfer to finish second (or tied for second) to Tiger in a PGA event.

Ernie Els has finished in second place to Tiger in five tournaments, most of any competitor.

Here’s a look at the players who have finished second or tied for second to Tiger in his 73 wins on the tour.

Second-place finishes, Golfers

5: Ernie Els

4: Davis Love, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk

3: Chris DiMarco, Stewart Cink

2. Tom Lehman, Sergio Garcia, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Retief Goosen, David Toms, Charles Howell III, Rory Sabbatini

Did you know? Els and DiMarco aare the only two golfers to finish second to Tiger in two majors events.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Can previous Masters results predict this year’s winner?

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published multiple times weekly focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.

The american professional golfer Fred Couples

Fred Couples (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So here’s the questions: Can how a golfer played in the previous Masters predict how he will do in this year’s event? Do first-time winners of the Masters take a similar path to the green jacket? Can we predict the winner based on who is leading after 36 holes?

To see if the stats can help us forecast this year’s winner, let’s take a look at the past 12 Masters winners (2000-2011) and see what their numbers looked like the previous year before their win, and their standing after 36 holes in the year they won. Can we make any connections? One to consider: Charl Schwartzel finished in 30th place in the 2010 Masters (his first Masters appearance) and then won it the following year. This year, Jason Dufner is tied for the lead after two rounds. Dufner finished in 30th place last year in his first Masters. Can Dufner repeat Schwartzel’s journey to his first Masters?

2011, Charl Schwartzel: The 2011 Masters was only his second Masters. As noted above, the previous year he finished in 30th place. He was six strokes back at four-under in 2011.

2010, Phil Mickelson: This was Mickelson’s third Masters. He finished in fifth in 2009 (Note: He finished in the top ten each year before winning his three Masters). He was at -6, two strokes back after the second round. This was his 18th Masters start.

2009, Angel Cabrera: Another first-time winner. Cabrera finished in 25th place the previous year. He won in his 10th Masters appearance. He was only one shot out of the lead after 36 holes.

2008, Trevor Immelman: Was playing in his sixth Masters, winning for the first time. He was 55th place the previous year. He is the last golfer to lead the tournament after 36 holes and win the Masters.

2007, Zach Johnson: He won this year in his third Masters start. He is one of only five Masters champs in the last 30 years to win the event and not be under par after 36 holes. He finished in 32nd place in 2006.

2006, Phil Mickelson: Won his second Masters in his 14th start. Finished 10th the previous year. He was four shots back at -2 after two rounds.

2005, Tiger Woods: The last time he won a Masters. Finished 22nd the previous year. Was six strokes back at four-under par after 36 holes. This was the third time Tiger shot 66 the second round in the years he won the tournament. This was his 11th Masters.

2004, Phil Mickelson: Phil’s first Masters win in his 12th start. He finished third the year before. Was three strokes back at -3 at the halfway point.

2003, Mike Weir: A first-time winner, Weir was playing in his fourth Masters. He finished in 24th place in 2002. Was the second round leader at six-under.

2002, Tiger Woods: The third of his four Masters titles. He won the tourney the previous year. He was four shots back after 36 holes.

2001, Tiger Woods: Finished fifth the previous year. This was his seventh Masters. Was at 136 (eight-under) after two rounds. Was the second time he was at 136 at the midway point; he was at 136 when he won in 1997.

2000, Vijay Singh: Won his first Masters in his seventh start. Finished in 24th place the previous year. Was only one shot back after 36 holes.

So did we learn anything? Here’s a few stats from the above summaries…

* The average Masters champion in the last 12 years finished in 20th place the previous year.

* The average Master champion in the past 12 years was playing in his 10th Masters.

* The average Masters champion in the past 12 years was five-under after two rounds.

Do any of this year’s leaders fit the above criteria? Fred Couples and Jason Dufner are the only two players at five-under this year after two rounds. Four players finished in 20th place last year: Ryo Ishikawa, Ricky Barnes, Y.E. Yang and Martin Laird (Yang is at -1; Laird is +4; Ishikawa missed the cut; Barnes did not play). Of the players who are at even par or better, no one is playing in their 10th Masters. Closest to this criteria is Charles Howell, Ian Poulter and Zach Johnson who are all playing in their eighth Masters, and Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington who are playing in their 13th Masters.