Stat attack!: Open Championship review


Perhaps it’s appropriate that Rory McIlroy has curly hair, for like the little girl with the curl, when McIlory is good, he is very, very good. And at the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, McIlroy was every bit of very, very good.

McIlroy’s 17-under 271 total at Royal Liverpool was the fourth-lowest total in relation to par in the history of the Open Championship, and he needed an eagle on the final hole to match Tiger Woods for the best score in relation to par in major-championship history. Woods shot 19 under at the 2000 Open Championship at St. Andrews. With his par on the final hole, McIlroy’s total marks the 10th time since 1990 that a player has finished at 17-under or better in a major.

The lowest winning scores at the Open Championship in relation to par

 To par Player   Year Venue 
 19 under Tiger Woods  2000  St. Andrews 
 18 under  Tiger Woods 2006  Royal Liverpool
 18 under  Nick Faldo  1990  St. Andrews 
 17 under  Rory McIlroy  2014  Royal Liverpool 
 16 under  Louis Oosthuizen  2010  St. Andrews 

Lowest score in relation to par in a major championship since 1990

 To par Player  Major
 19 under Tiger Woods 2000 Open Championship 
 18 under  Tiger Woods  2006 Open Championship 
 18 under  Tiger Woods
2006 PGA Championship 
 18 under   Tiger Woods   2000 PGA Championship 
 18 under   Bob May  2000 PGA Championship 
 18 under   Tiger Woods  1997 Masters 
 18 under   Nick Faldo  1990 Open Championship 
 17 under   Rory McIlroy  2014 Open Championshp 
 17 under   Steve Elkington  1995 PGA Championship 
 17 under   Colin Montgomerie  1995 PGA Championship 

McIlroy’s victory comes on the heels of Martin Kaymer’s rout at the U.S. Open. Kaymer led for all four rounds at Pinehurst. Prior to McIlroy, the last wire-to-wire winner at the British Open (with no ties) was Tiger Woods in 2005.

Open Champions with wire-to-wire victories (no ties)

 Year Player 
 2014  Rory McIlroy
 2005 Tiger Woods 
 1973  Tom Weiskopf 
 1934  Henry Cotton 
 1932   Gene Sarazen 
 1927 Bobby Jones 
 1912 Ted Ray 

It is the first time since 1903 that the U.S. and British Open had wire-to-wire winners in the same year. Although in 1903, when Willie Anderson won the U.S. Open and Harry Vardon won the Open Championship, Vardon was not the sole leader all four days, having shared the opening-round lead with Sandy Herd.

McIlroy also ran the table at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, and this marks the second time he led a major at the end of every round, joining Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Raymond Floyd as the only players to do that more than once.

The Open marks the sixth time McIlroy held the 54-hole lead (or co-lead) at a PGA Tour event and fourth time in a major championship. It was his fourth win in such events.

McIlroy with the 54-hole lead at PGA Tour events 

 Tournament Finish
 2014 Open Championship Won
 2014 Honda Classic Lost playoff
 2012 PGA Championship Won
 2012 Honda Classic Won
 2011 U.S. Open Won
 2011 Masters T-15

McIlroy dominated on the par-5 holes at Royal Liverpool, especially on Saturday when he made eagle on the 16th and 18th holes to take what became an insurmountable lead of six strokes into Sunday’s final round. For the week, McIlroy was one of four players to shoot 12 under on the par-5 holes.

Scoring leaders on the par-5s at the Open Championship

 Player Scoring on par 5s 
 Rory McIlroy 12 under 
 Paul Casey  12 under
 Francesco Molinari  12 under 
 Victor Dubuisson 12 under

Long-term, it won’t soon be forgotten how well Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler played at the Open Championship. Their 15-under 273 totals would have been good enough to win all but three Opens since 2000. Fowler, who also finished T-2 in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, is the only player to finish in the top five of all three majors in 2014. He’s the sixth player to do that since 1990. Fowler and Ernie Els in 2000 are the only players to finish in the two at both Opens in the same year since 1980.

Players who were in the top five at the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship since 1990

 Year Player  Masters  U.S. Open  Open Championship
 2014 Rickie Fowler  T-2  T-2 
 2005 Tiger Woods  Won  Won 
 2004 Phil Mickelson  Won 
 2000  Tiger Woods Won Won 
 2000 Ernie Els  2 T-2  T-2
 1990 Nick Faldo  Won  T-3  Won 

Fowler is also one of three players to finish in the top 15 in this year’s first three major championships.

Players with top-15 finishes in all three majors in 2014 

 Player  Masters  U.S. Open  British Open 
 Rickie Fowler T-5  T-2  T-2 
 Adam Scott T-14  T-9  T-5 
 Jim Furyk T-14  T-12 

Garcia was second in a major championship for the fourth time, but he looks more confident than he has at any time since he first finished second to Tiger Woods at the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah, when he scissor-kicked his way up the leaderboard. Along the way he became downcast as the defeats, most notably in his playoff loss to Padraig Harrington at the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie, took their toll. After a third-round 75 at the 2012 Masters took him out of contention, a frustrated Garcia told Spanish reporters he’s “not good enough ... I don't have the thing I need to have,” to win majors. That appears to have changed, as Garcia's confidence has grown as he has matured. The T-2 at Liverpool was Garcia’s sixth top-three in a major, only Lee Westwood has more top-three finishes at majors without winning. 

Most top-threes at major championships without winning

 Player Top threes 
 Lee Westwood 
 Sergio Garcia  6
 Colin Montgomerie  6
 Doug Sanders  6
 Harry Cooper  5
 Bruce Crampton