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20 things to know about the 2013 British Open

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TSN.ca Staff
7/17/2013 1:31:31 PM
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Here are 20 things to know about the 142nd British Open, which gets underway this week at Muirfield. The first round goes live to air on TSN and TSN Mobile TV on Thursday at 4am et/1am pt. Also, TSN.ca will feature live streaming from select holes at Muirfield during the tournament.

- Muirfield hosts the Open Championship for the first time since 2002, when Ernie Els won a four-way playoff to claim his first Claret Jug. Els is back to defend his 2012 Open Championship title, and could become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2000 and 2005 (St. Andrews) to win in consecutive appearances at a particular Open Championship venue.

- Muirfield hosts the Open Championship for the 16th time. Among venues currently in the Open Championship rota, only St. Andrews has hosted more often.

- Muirfield will play 158 yards longer than it did in 2002, when Ernie Els won a four-way playoff.

- A total of 156 players will compete at Muirfield with the leading 70, and those tied for 70th place after two rounds, qualifying for the final 36 holes.

- In the case of a tie after 72 holes, a 4–hole playoff will commence on Sunday afternoon: 1st hole, 16th hole, 17th hole, 18th hole. The player with the lowest total score on those four holes will be the winner. If there's still a tie after that, it is sudden death on the 18th hole until a winner emerges. There have been eight four-hole aggregate playoffs in Open Championship history, the first of which occurred in 1989. The last 4-hole playoff was in 2009, when Stewart Cink defeated Tom Watson at Turnberry.

- Ernie Els returns to defend his Open Championship at Muirfield, where he won the last time the Open was contested here. He's the first player since Greg Norman at Turnberry in 1994 to attempt a title defense while also being the last winner at a particular venue. Over the last 100 years, no player has successfully defended his title in this situation. The time it happened was James Braid at Muirfield in 1906.

- The last eight champions at Muirfield all went on to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. The group also had five straight winners in their 30s. The last winner not in his 30s was Jack Nicklaus, who was 26 when he won at Muirfield in 1966. The average age of the last eight Muirfield champs is just over 31-years-old. Sir Henry Cotton was the old champ, 41 in 1948, and Gary Player was the youngest, 23 in 1959. The last eight winners at Muirfield in order were Ernie Els, Sir Nick Faldo, Faldo again, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Nicklaus, Player and Cotton.

- The last 19 majors contested (beginning with the 2008 PGA Championship) have produced 18 different winners. Rory McIlroy (2011 U.S. Open, 2012 PGA Championship) is the only player to win multiple major titles during this span.

- The last 19 majors have gone to 18 different players, with Rory McIlroy (2011 U.S. Open, 2012 PGA Championship) the only repeat winner during the span. 14 of the last 17 winners were first-time major winners.

- Despite all the first-time winners, it's been the top players in the world getting it done lately. Five of the last six major winners have come from within the top 16 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

- 20 major championships have come and gone since Tiger Woods' last victory, at the 2008 U.S. Open. That's twice as long as the next longest drought since Woods played his first full season as a professional in 1997.

- After a run of three straight American major winners, the rest of the world is back on top in the majors – international players have won each of the last four majors, beginning with Ernie Els' win at the Open Championship last year. Since Tiger Woods' win at Royal Liverpool in 2006, there has been just one American winner (Stewart Cink, 2009) at the Open Championship.

- Since winning the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, 20 majors have been played without a Tiger Woods victory, although he has competed in just 16 of them.

- It's been well documented that Phil Mickelson has come close on many occasions, but unable to win the U.S. Open (six runner-up finishes). Not so much over in the United Kingdom, where he has just two top-10 finishes (best was T-2nd in 2011) in 19 career appearances.

- Of the last nine winners at the Open Championship (since 2004), six have been 35 or older. That's the most of any major during that span.

- In 2012, no amateur made the 36-hole cut at the Open Championship, so the Silver Medal was not awarded for the first time since 2003. Tom Lewis (+9) won in 2011.

- The Claret Jug, or to use its proper name, The Golf Champion Trophy, is presented to each year's winner of The Open Championship. Yet it is not the original prize. When the Championship began at Prestwick in 1860, the winner was presented with the Challenge Belt, made of rich morocco leather, embellished with a silver buckle and emblems.

- Now that Augusta National has added two women as members, the debates shifts across the Atlantic Ocean. The Royal & Ancient Golf Club has no female members, and Muirfield is one of three courses on the British Open rotation that are all-male clubs. The others are Royal St. George's and Royal Troon.

- Nick Faldo returns to play his last British Open at Muirfield, where he won two of his three Claret Jugs. Faldo won his first major in the 1987 British Open by making 18 pars in the final round. He won at Muirfield in 1992 by blowing a four-shot lead at the turn and finishing birdie-par for a one-shot victory.

- The British Open is held at the home course of the "Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers," believed to be the oldest golf organization and the one responsible for creating 13 "Rules of Golf" for a competition in 1744.

Rory McIlroy (Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
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