Darren Clarke was ranked 111th in the world when he won the 2011 Open Championship, the third straight winner ranked outside the top-10.
The oldest of the four golf majors, The Open Championship, begins on Thursday in Lancashire, England, and recent history suggests that the winner will not be one of the favorites heading into the weekend.
Since the beginning of 2009, fewer players ranked inside the Official World Golf Ranking top 10 have won majors (two) than players from outside the top 100 (three) including last year’s Open Championship winner, Darren Clarke (111th). The only two major winners from inside the top 10 over that span were Rory McIlroy (eighth at the 2011 U.S. Open) and Phil Mickelson (third at the 2010 Masters).
During the previous four-year span from 2005-2008, 10 of the 16 major champions were ranked inside the top 10 at the time of their victory and from 2001-08, 20 of the 32 major winners were ranked inside the top 10.
Long-shot winners have been particularly common at the Open Championship lately, as the last three winners have had an average world rank of 66 (Stewart Cink – 33rd in 2009, Louis Oosthuizen – 54th in 2010, and Darren Clarke – 111th in 2011). Padraig Harrington was the last top-10 golfer to win the Open Championship when he won as the 10th-ranked golfer in the world in 2007.
(For more on the recent run of parity in majors click here)
TIGER HOPING TO FOLLOW THE GOLDEN BEAR
Tiger Woods will tee off at 4:42 AM ET on Thursday in hopes of winning his 15th career major on TOUR. Jack Nicklaus won the 15th of his record 18 career majors at the Open Championship in 1978 at age 38. At age 36, Tiger is still on Nicklaus’ pace, but has gone without a major win since the 2008 U.S. Open.
This weekend will mark the third time in his career that Tiger has appeared in an Open Championship played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. In 2001, Woods finished in a tie for 25th, nine shots behind champion David Duval and in 1996 as an amateur, Tiger tied for 21st overall and posted the low score among non-professionals.
TIGER’S LAST WIN WAS OPENING ACT OF HISTORIC RUN
There are similarities between Tiger’s TOUR play in 2012 and his play leading up to his last Open Championship win in 2006 and that may bode well for him moving forward.
In both seasons, Woods will have entered the Open with four top-five finishes and multiple wins on TOUR (two in 2006, three in 2012).
Most Consecutive TOUR Wins – PGA History
Tiger not only won the Open Championship in 2006, but it also kick-started a run that saw him win his next six PGA TOUR events. The seven-consecutive wins on TOUR were the 2nd-longest streak in PGA history and the longest in over 60 years. Only Byron Nelson’s streak of 11-straight wins in 1945 was longer.