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2014 OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP (The 36th of 41 events in the PGA TOUR Season), Royal Liverpool GC, July 17-20, 2014  ; FedExCup Pts: 600;  Hoylake, England, Par/Yards: 37-37—72/7,312 - EARLY First-Round Notes – Thursday, July 17, 2014

First-Round Leader Stats

Since 1975, just five first-round leaders of the Open Championship have gone on to win: Tiger Woods (2005), John Daly (1995), Greg Norman (1993), Seve Ballesteros (1988) and Tom Watson (1980).

Last year at Muirfield, Zach Johnson led by a stroke after 18 holes with a 5-under 66. He finished T6.

The lowest opening-round score at the Open Championship is 63, set by Rory McIlroy at St. Andrews in 2010.

In 2006, Graeme McDowell led after the first round at Royal Liverpool GC with a 6-under 66, when the course played to 7, 258 yards..

In the 12 previous Open Championships hosted by Royal Liverpool, the first-round leader has gone on to win three times (Arnaud Massy/1907, J.H. Taylor/1913 and Bobby Jones/1930).

The first-round leader/co-leader has gone on to win eight of 34 stroke-play events on the PGA TOUR in 2014, most recently Brian Harman at last week’s John Deere Classic.

Rory McIlroy (66)

Making his seventh Open Championship start, and sixth straight, Roy McIlroy is looking to add a third different major championship title to his resume. McIlroy won the 2011 U.S. Open and 2012 PGA Championship. McIlroy won the U.S. Open in wire-to-wire fashion.

McIlroy’s 66 in round one today is three strokes off his lowest score at The Open Championship. At St. Andrews in 2010, he opened with a 9-under 63 en route to T3 honors.

At Royal Liverpool GC in 2006, fellow countryman Graeme McDowell also led after the first round with a 6-under 66, but finished T61.

McIlroy is a six-time winner on the PGA TOUR and is in search of his first win since the 2012 BMW Championship. He has amassed six titles on the European Tour, with the most recent coming at this year’s BMW PGA Championship.

McIlroy has produced six top-10 finishes in 10 starts on the PGA TOUR this season, and has yet to finish outside the top-25. On the European Tour, he has claimed four top-10 finishes in nine starts.

Here’s a look at McIlroy’s six previous finishes at the Open Championship: T42-2007, T47-2009, T3-2010, T25-2011, T60-2012 and MC-2013.

Ranked 181st, McIlroy’s second-round scoring average this year is 72.89.

Should his lead hold, McIlroy will take the 18-hole lead for the 10th time on the PGA TOUR. The two that resulted in victory were the 2011 U.S. Open and 2012 BMW Championship. He held a 2-stroke lead after 18 holes at the  2010 Open Championship, but finished T3.

Matteo Manassero (67)

Following a T13 at the Open Championship in 2013, Italy’s Matteo Manassero missed the cut in 2011 and 2013.  This marks his fourth start in the event.

Manassero is making his 13th major championship start this week, with a T13 at the 2009 Open Championship his best showing among them.

Manassero his 9/14 fairways in regulation (64.3 percent) and 15/18 greens (83.3 percent).

Manassero is making his eighth start of the season on the PGA TOUR this week, with a T8 at the Valspar Championship his lone top-10 finish. He has made 14 starts on the European Tour this season, where he has collected two top-10 finishes.

Manassero is the winner of four European Tour titles, most recently the 2013 BMW PGA Championship.

Brooks Koepka (68)

In his second Open Championship start, Brooks Koepka overcame a double-bogey six at the second hole with seven birdies en route to a 4-under 68. Koepka missed the cut in last year’s Open Championship.

Koepka, a 24-year-old Florida native, won three events on the Challenge Tour in 2013, the second of which being a record 10-stroke victory at the Fred Olsen Challenge de Espana. With the three Challenge Tour wins, Koepka earned his European Tour card for the remainder of the 2013 season and all of 2014.

Koepka is looking for his first PGA TOUR win this week in his 14th start this season. His two top-5 finishes came with a T3 at the Frys.com Open in his first start of the season and a T4 at the U.S. Open last month.

Koepka is making his fifth major championship start this week (fourth as a professional). His 68 in round one of today’s Open Championship matches his lowest major championship score from round two of this year’s U.S. Open.

Francesco Molinari (68)

Francesco Molinari, the younger of the two Molinari brothers in this week’s Open Championship, made an eagle-three at the last to post a 4-under 68 to match Edoarado’s score.

Francesco Molinari missed just two of Royal Liverpool’s 14 fairways in round one (66.6 percent), and found 12/18 greens (64.5 percent).

Francesco Molinari is making his seventh Open Championship start this week. His best finish among them is T9 at Muirfield lsat year.

The 2014 Open Championship is Francesco Molinari’s 23rd major championship start. His best finish is T9 from last year’s Open Championship.

Francesco Molinari is making his ninth start of the season on the PGA TOUR this week, with a T5 and T6 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and PLAYERS Championship, respectively, his two top-10 finishes. He has made 13 starts on the European Tour this season, where he has also collected a pair of top-10 finishes.

Edoarado Molinari (68)

Edoarado Molinari birdied his first two holes and two of his last three en route to a 4-under 68 in round one of the Open Championship. His score matches that of older brother Francesco.

Edoarado Molinari is making his fifth Open Championship start this week, and first since 2011. His best finish in the event is a T27 at St. Andrews in 2010.

This marks Edoarado Molinari’s first start on the PGA TOUR in the 2013-14 Season. He has made 14 starts on the European Tour this season, with runner-up honors at the Irish Open his best showing. He is a two-time winner on the European Tour.

Tiger Woods (69)

Tiger Woods opened with a 3-under 69 for the second straight year at The Open Championship.

Tiger Woods has opened the Open Championship with a round in the 60s nine times now. Two of the previous eight led to wins (2005, 2006). Last year at Muirfield, he opened with a 2-under 69 and finished T6.

Tiger Woods has birdied the first hole of an Open Championship (18 starts) just three times. In round one, Woods opened with a bogey. His only other scores worse than par at the first hole in round one were bogey in 2013 (T6) and triple bogey in 2003 (T4).

Woods’ bogey-bogey start is a first in his Open Championship career. His only worse starts were being 3-over after two, due to a triple bogey on the first hole in 2003 and a triple bogey on No. 2 in 1995 (amateur).

Woods is seeking his 15th Major Championship victory in his 71st start (65 professional, 6 amateur) in a major.

The 2014 Open Championship marks the 19th major start since his last major win at the 2008 U.S. Open.

Woods, the 2007 and 2009 FedExCup, enters this week’s Open Championship ranked 212th in the standings. Should he advance to the FedExCup Playoffs, he would become the lowest ranked player entering the Open Championship to qualify for the Playoffs (since 2009 under current structure). The current distinction belongs to Dean Wilson who, in 2010, came into the Open ranked 195th.

Tom Watson (73)

Tom Watson opened with a 1-over 73 in his 37th Open Championship and 141st  Major Championship appearance.

At The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in 2006, Watson opened with an even-par 72 (finished T48).

Watson’s T48 in 2013 represented his 26th made cut at the Open Championship. His T22 in 2011 was one of 69 top 25s in majors.

Watson is a five-time winner of the British Open (1975, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1983).

Additional Notes

Three amateurs have won the Open Championship a total of six times:

Bobby Jones  3 1926, 1927, 1930

Harold Hilton   2 1892, 1897

John Ball Jr.   1  1890

First-Timers at the Open Championship

Just nine players have won the Open Championship in their first appearance: Ben Curtis (2003), Tom Watson (1975), Tony Lema (1964), Ben Hogan (1953), Denny Shute (1933), Jock Hutchison (1921), Mungo Park (1874), Tom Kidd (1873) and Willie Park Sr. (1860).

Recent Major Championship Trends

  • International players have won five of the last eight majors (2014 U.S. Open/Martin Kaymer, 2013 U.S. Open/Justin Rose, 2013 Masters/Adam Scott, 2012 PGA Championship/Rory McIlroy and 2012 Open Championship/Ernie Els).
  • The last 23 major championships have been won by 19 different players. Martin Kaymer, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy are the only players with two wins in majors in that span.

Year       Winner                          Major                         

2014       Martin Kaymer               U.S. Open

2014       Bubba Watson              Masters

2013       Jason Dufner                PGA Championship

2013       Phil Mickelson               Open Championship

2013       Justin Rose                   U.S. Open

2013       Adam Scott                   Masters

2012       Rory McIlroy                 PGA Championship

2012       Ernie Els                       Open Championship

2012       Webb Simpson             U.S. Open

2012       Bubba Watson              Masters                       

2011       Keegan Bradley             PGA Championship                  

2011       Darren Clarke                Open Championship

2011       Rory McIlroy                  U.S. Open

2011       Charl Schwartzel            Masters                       

2010       Martin Kaymer                PGA Championship                  

2010       Louis Oosthuizen           Open Championship

2010       Graeme McDowell         U.S. Open

2010       Phil Mickelson               Masters                       

2009       Y.E. Yang                      PGA Championship                  

2009       Stewart Cink                Open Championship

2009       Lucas Glover                U.S. Open

2009       Angel Cabrera              Masters                       

2008       Padraig Harrington        PGA Championship

Active consecutive major appearances (counting this week):

Player/ Consecutive starts       

Sergio Garcia  61

Adam Scott 53

Most major starts without a victory (entering this week):

Player/ Starts  

Lee Westwood 65

Sergio Garcia 63

Steve Stricker 63 (Not in the Open Championship field)

K.J. Choi  52

WeatherMostly sunny. Winds N/NW10-15 mph, with gusts to 30 mph. High of 78.

Early First-Round Leaderboard

Rory McIlroy  66 (-6)

Matteo Manassero 67 (-5)

5 players  68 (-4)       

Source: PGA Tour

Author

Graham J Gordon, The Editor and Owner, GolfblogspotUK

The GolfblogspotUK website is owned and run by former Walker Cup player and European Tour card holder, Graham J Gordon, from Scotland, the Home of Golf. The owner is a golf fanatic who had to retire early from competitive tour play due to a back injury that required surgery. Graham wishes to share his knowledge and own experiences of the game with the GolfblogspotUK community and to receive your feedback on all aspects of the sport. Graham has been playing the game for over 20 years and received a great deal of pleasure from the sport. He has met several friends and visited many different places around the world, thanks to playing the great game of golf. Time to put a little back into the game to help others.

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