BBC Home
Explore the BBC
| Help
Last Updated: Sunday, 4 July, 2004, 17:59 GMT 18:59 UK
Open facts and figures

BBC Sport's guide to all the stats you will need to know ahead of this year's Open championship at Royal Troon in Ayrshire.

Winners and legends

Ben Curtis

Ben Curtis became the 76th winner of the world's oldest major when he won the 2003 Open Championship.

The American, ranked 396th, stunned the bookmakers when he held off a high-quality field to win land his first professional title.

His prize for being the only player under par after four gruelling rounds at Royal St George's was a big cheque, five-year tour exemption, trip to the White House and an invite to the next 39 Opens.

While that is a great return on a trip made more in hope than expectation, Curtis is unlikely to get close to the achievement of the tournament's most successful player, Harry Vardon.

The legendary Englishman claimed a record six championships around the turn of the 19th century.

Part of the "Great Triumvirate" which included J H Taylor and James Braid, he won titles in 1896, 1898, 1899, 1903, 1911 and 1914, and is one of only three players to win over three decades.

Braid and Taylor managed five wins around the same time, while Peter Thomson and Tom Watson remain the only players to equal this feat in the post-war period.

Golfers who have lifted the Claret Jug four times include Walter Hagen, Bobby Locke, Tom Morris Jnr, Tom Morris Snr and Willie Park Snr.

Although American legend Jack Nicklaus claimed three titles, he could be considered one of the unluckiest players in the tournament's history, having finished runner-up on a record seven occasions between 1964 and 1979.

This year's winner will receive 720,000 out of a total prize money pot of 4m.

Willie Park won the first Open but was none the richer - prize money was not introduced until 1863 and, even then, only players who finished behind the champion were rewarded.

Year Champion Score Course Prize ()
2003 Ben Curtis 283 Royal St George's, England 700,000
2002 Ernie Els 278 Muirfield, Scotland 700,000
2001 David Duval 274 Royal Lytham, England 600,000
2000 Tiger Woods 269 St Andrews, Scotland 500,000
1999 Paul Lawrie* 290 Carnoustie, Scotland 350,000
1998 Mark O'Meara* 280 Royal Birkdale, England 300,000
1997 Justin Leonard 272 Royal Troon, Scotland 250,000
1996 Tom Lehman 271 Royal Lytham, England 200,000
1995 John Daly* 282 St Andrews, Scotland 125,000
1994 Nick Price 268 Turnberry GL, Scotland 110,000

* denotes a play-off victory

Records and winning margins

Six wins:
Harry Vardon - 1896,98,99,1903, 11, 14
Five wins:
James Braid - 1901, 05, 06, 08, 10
J H Taylor - 1894, 95, 1900, 09, 13
Peter Thomson - 1954, 55, 56, 58, 65
Tom Watson - 1975, 77, 80, 82, 83
J H Taylor might be one of the most successful Open golfers with five victories, but he certainly is not the most economic.

He clinched his first title at Royal St George's in 1894 with a mind-boggling 326 and followed it up the next year at St Andrews with a hefty 332 triumph, which remains the highest winning aggregate in Open history.

At the other end of the scale, Australian Greg Norman holds the record for the lowest winning total when he hit 267 at Royal St George's to lift the Claret Jug for the second time in 1993.

One shot behind are Tom Watson and Nick Price at Turnberry, while Tiger Woods takes third place with his sublime 269 at St Andrews in 2000.

This year's challengers have an outside chance of matching Norman's record as the best winning score at Royal Troon is Justin Leonard's 1997 total of 272.

The course has been lengthened - it is 96 yards longer than in 1997 - but the key, as always with links courses, will be the weather.

With no wind to battle, the likes of Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Woods could find Troon's famous greens very friendly. But if it blows for four days, par will be a good score.

When it comes to winning margins, golf's old boys are in a league of their own.

Tom Morris Snr won by a whopping 13 strokes in 1862 and, eight years later, his son "Young Tom" claimed victory 12 shots ahead of his nearest opponent.

But these feats were in the days when the field was limited - Woods is the only current star to rank up there with his eight-stroke triumph in 2000.

There is more likely to be a tighter finish at this year's event, as Royal Troon has a reputation for narrow margins.

In fact, Troon was the venue for the Open's first four-hole play-off in 1989. Mark Calcavecchia held off Norman and Wayne Grady then, for what remains his only major title.

Total Player Year Course R1 R2 R3 R4
267 Greg Norman 1993 Royal St George's 66 68 69 64
268 Tom Watson 1977 Turnberry 68 70 65 65
Nick Price 1994 Turnberry 69 66 67 66
269 Tiger Woods 2000 St Andrews 67 66 67 69
270 Nick Faldo 1990 St Andrews 67 65 67 71
271 Tom Watson 1980 Muirfield 68 70 64 69
Tom Lehman 1996 Royal Lytham 67 67 64 73
272 Ian Baker-Finch 1991 Royal Birkdale 71 71 64 66
Nick Faldo 1992 Muirfield 66 64 69 73
Justin Leonard 1997 Royal Troon 69 66 72 65

Links to more History stories



E-mail services | Sport on mobiles/PDAs | Headlines for your site


Back to top

Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability Sport | US Sport | Other Sport | Olympics 2004

Scores & Fixtures | Have Your Say | Photo Galleries | TV/Radio Listings

Sport Relief 2004 | Fun and Games | Question of Sport | BBC Sport Plus

Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales

BBC Sport Academy >> | BBC News >> | BBC Weather >>
About the BBC | News sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy | Contact us
banner watch listen bbc sport