Your other national game

All non-fitba stuff in here please.

Your other national game

Postby Scottish » Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:31 pm

The Open gets under way tomorrow with pitifully few Scots in the field. Though the absence of Tiger Woods should mean a more 'open' contest than in previous years.

I've done a quick statistical analysis based on winners since 1954. I chose that year rather than the usual post-war because all previous post-1945 winners had either played pre-war or would have been eligible to do so during wartime which would skew the statistics e.g. Fred Daly won at his second attempt in 1947 but it's likely he would have entered prior to 1946 if possible. To be consistent I have also removed 1957 winner Bobby Locke (his 4th title and another pre-war contestant) from the equation.

There have been 32 winners since 1954, ten of whom have gone on to win again. However, since Greg Norman's second in 1993 only Tiger Woods has won more than once. So if you fancy backing a previous winner (perennial challenger Ernie Els comes to mind though there are 14 former Champions playing) then caveat emptor.

However if a player has won a second title he is very likely to do so a third time. Of the ten double champions, seven have gone on to win a third time and the three that didn't (Norman, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino) were all the proverbial baw-hair away from doing so.

But of the seven triple winners only Peter Thomson and Tom Watson have gone on to win a fourth. This pair both also added a fifth title.

If you're looking for a first-time winner there have been just three in this period - Watson, the tragic Tony Lema and Ben Curtis

More initial successes have been recorded at the fourth attempt (seven) than any other though the average winner does so at his sixth entry. No one has won a first title at their ninth, 13th or 15th attempt.

1994 winner Nick Price won at his 16th attempt, some 19 years after his first entry. Roberto De Vicenzo in 1967 also won 19 years after his initial entry but this was just his 11th attempt.

From 1954-1985 De Vicenzo was the only first-time winner (of 15) to take more than six attempts but since 1985 seven of the subsequent champions have taken ten or more attempts before winning and only six (all Americans) have taken less than six.

Of the non-US winners the 'quickest' was Kel Nagle in 1960, winning at his third attempt - but this was spread over nine years. Peter Thomson and Gary Player won at their fourth consecutive entry.

Of the GB/Ire winners 'quickest' was Tony Jacklin (6th), followed by Paul Lawrie (7th), Sandy Lyle (10th), Padraig Harrington (11th) and - surprisingly - trailing them all, Nick Faldo (12th).

If we extend home status on a Ryder Cup basis then Seve Ballesteros is 'fastest' winning at the fifth attempt.

So what does that portend for this year. Anyone backing a previous champion to come good again should be aware that only Norman and Player won their second titles more than five years after their first. This will be Els' sixth year since winning.

Those looking for a 'home' win should remember that there have been successive European victories just twice in this period - Ballesteros 84, Lyle 85 & Faldo 87, Ballesteros 88. Also, no European has ever won at Birkdale.

Winners and best European placings at a Birkdale Open
1954 W Peter Thomson 2nd= Dai Rees, Syd Scott
1961 W Arnold Palmer 2nd Dai Rees
1965 W Peter Thomson 2nd= Brian Huggett, Christy O'Connor Sr
1971 W Lee Trevino 3rd Tony Jacklin
1976 W Johnny Miller 2nd= Seve Ballesteros
1983 W Tom Watson 8th= Nick Faldo, Christy O'Connor Jr, Dennis Durnian
1991 W Ian Baker-Finch 5th= Eamonn Darcy
1998 W Mark O'Meara 4th= Jesper Parnevik, Justin Rose, Raymond Russell

With five American and three Australian successes this is not a course which favours home players.

With the exceptions of the first-time winners just about every champion has a good record in the tournament. That doesn't mean playing well once in a blue moon (Montgomerie, Mickelson) but regularly featuring in the top ten.

Garcia and Els will be favourites and based on past performances that's reasonable but Mickelson (who has cost me money in the past) should be avoided. Jim Furyk - 13th attempt and three previous fourth places - seems a much better bet if you think an American can win

Lee Westwood (14th attempt, fourth in 2004) and Miguel Angel Jiminez (16th attempt and 3rd in 2001) are the form players amongst the Europeans but with miserable Open records.

If you decide to forego the obvious bets of Garcia and/or Els then Aussies Geoff Ogilvy (6th entry, 5th in 2005) and Adam Scott (9th entry, 8th in 2006) are attracting a lot of attention. As is Stewart Cink (11th entry, 6th last year). Surprisingly you can get Steve Stricker (9th entry, 8th last year) at 66-1.

However, after all that, time to say who my money's being wasted on.

For a proven major winner with a decent Open record go for Retief Goosen at 40-1 (14th entry, 5th in 2005 but with six previous top ten Open finishes)

And for an 'outsider' how about Andres Romero? Only two previous entries but 8th in 2006 and 3rd last year. A tournament winner as recently as the end of March and 8th in the Masters. Available at 50-1 even as I write.
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Postby the hibLOG » Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:02 am

Well there you go David - that's bust a couple of statistical hoodoos!

Your tips for Furyk and Goosen looked not bad for a moment there.
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Postby Scottish » Mon Jul 21, 2008 9:43 am

Well, I got a run for my money for a while. Never considered Harrington for one moment after all the 'injury' business last week. Stewards inquiry? I can't think of any other sportsman more or less saying 'don't bother betting on me' and of course the odds drifted massively. But now that he has two the odds are in his favour of getting a third at some point.

Then again what do I know? I'm the guy who carried a scoreboard at Troon in 1973, massively disappointed that I was with some unknown trio rather than Nicklaus, Trevino, Jacklin or Player.

One of the 'unknowns' was Mark James who turned out to be one of the finest players of his era.

Norman? Some folk are saying his revival is down to marrying Chris Evert. Well, it never did John Lloyd any good and at the risk of being called sexist if his new marriage is THAT good I'm surprised he had the energy to walk the course let alone swing a club!

Seriously, Greg Norman's performance illustrates the Australian sporting mentality. Compare him this week to Sandy Lyle and Nick Faldo. The latter pair were two of the most ferocious competitors in the world in their prime. Yet Big Sandy walks off the course after ten holes and Faldo doesn't even bother entering.

However, criticism is easy, particularly from this direction. I once walked off the 14th green at Middlesbrough Municipal and headed straight to the 19th!
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Postby Scottish » Mon Aug 11, 2008 10:18 pm

scottish wrote: I can't think of any other sportsman more or less saying 'don't bother betting on me'

I should have paid attention when he said he had "run out of steam" and was "mentally fatigued" and "hung over" after two rounds of the USPGA.
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Postby the hibLOG » Tue Aug 12, 2008 8:16 am

A phenomenal achievement, and in the world of sport where hyperbole is cheap, I think that's a simple statement of fact.

Hopefully he'll claim to be shagged out before the Ryder Cup.
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Postby Scottish » Tue Aug 12, 2008 7:09 pm

It is indeed phenomenal. And no one should carp about Woods not being present. He was present at the 2007 Open and Harrington still won. Also, no American observers seek to devalue US Open, PGA or Masters triumphs from the days when the top Europeans weren't invited to play. For example Henry Cotton was 41 before he played in a US major and 49 before his second!

Even in more modern times there was a lack of opportunity to play in US-based majors. No European golfer even finished in the top ten in the USPGA until 1988 (Faldo, 5th). So the absence of one man - no matter how good - should take nothing away from this success.

Speaking of Cotton, Harrington now has the same number of majors (and more than Jacklin, Lyle & Langer) with Ballesteros and Faldo (going back to WW1) the only European players with more.

Nor is it in any way a 'fluke' twelve months. Harrington has now finished in the top ten in major tournaments 12 times (including three this year, having finished 5th= at Augusta). Again, using the end of WW1 as the benchmark and looking at British and Irish players, only Cotton (17) and Faldo (26) are ahead. Percy Alliss, Monty, Ian Woosnam & Christy O'Connor Senior are the only others in double figures (all 10).

For top five finishes Harrington has nine. Only Faldo (19) has more. Although when you get to top threes he trails Faldo (12), Monty (6), Cotton (5), Jacklin, Woosnam, Fred Daly & Dai Rees (all 4). His three is matched by O'Connor Sr, Peter Oosterhuis, Alf Padgham and Reg Whitcombe.

In top two finishes Harrington's three is the same as Cotton and Rees and bettered only by Monty (5) and Faldo (9).

The big difference is that when he gets beyond the top five he wins. His record easily stacks up when compared with any British & Irish golfer of the past 90 years except Faldo and, arguably, Cotton (given the impact of the war on the latter's career and the lack of US opportunities. And it's better than any other European save Ballesteros.

Oh, and there should be a wee word of praise for Alastair Forsyth for finishing 9th= - the first Scot other than Monty to finish in the top ten in a US major since Sandy Lyle's Masters win twenty years ago.
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Postby Scottish » Tue Sep 09, 2008 4:05 pm

On another threadI alluded to the lack of Scottish sporting success in our "traditional" games like fitba & gowf while suddenly blossoming in cycling & tennis. I suggested it had been 60 years since there hadn't been a Scot playing in the Ryder Cup.

I was wrong. It's actually more than 70 years since a Ryder Cup team didn't feature at least one Scot.

Scots in the Ryder Cup

1927 George Duncan
1929 George Duncan
1931 George Duncan
1933 None
1935 None
1937 None
1947 Jimmy Adams
1949 Jimmy Adams
1951 Jimmy Adams, John Panton
1953 Jimmy Adams, Eric Brown, John Panton
1955 Eric Brown, John Fallon
1957 Eric Brown
1959 Eric Brown
1961 Tom Haliburton, John Panton
1963 Tom Haliburton, George Will
1965 George Will
1967 George Will
1969 Brian Barnes, Bernard Gallacher
1971 Harry Bannerman, Brian Barnes, Bernard Gallacher
1973 Brian Barnes, Bernard Gallacher
1975 Brian Barnes, Bernard Gallacher, Norman Wood
1977 Brian Barnes, Ken Brown, Bernard Gallacher
1979 Brian Barnes, Ken Brown, Bernard Gallacher, Sandy Lyle
1981 Bernard Gallacher, Sandy Lyle, Sam Torrance
1983 Ken Brown, Bernard Gallacher, Sandy Lyle, Sam Torrance
1985 Ken Brown, Sandy Lyle, Sam Torrance
1987 Gordon Brand Jr, Ken Brown, Sandy Lyle, Sam Torrance
1989 Gordon Brand Jr, Sam Torrance
1991 Colin Montgomerie, Sam Torrance
1993 Colin Montgomerie, Sam Torrance
1995 Colin Montgomerie, Sam Torrance
1997 Colin Montgomerie
1999 Andrew Coltart, Paul Lawrie, Colin Montgomerie
2002 Colin Montgomerie
2004 Colin Montgomerie
2006 Colin Montgomerie
2008 None

1929 George Duncan (also player)
1963 John Fallon
1969 Eric Brown
1971 Eric Brown
1991 Bernard Gallacher
1993 Bernard Gallacher
1995 Bernard Gallacher
2002 Sam Torrance
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