Open Championship 2015: Trends point to Rose blooming at St Andrews

Justin Rose fits all the trends of recent Open Championship winners
Justin Rose fits all the trends of recent Open Championship winners

Dave Tindall takes a close look at the make-up of the last 10 Open winners to see which player is most likely to lift the Claret Jug in 2015...


"Rose was also runner-up in the 2007 Dunhill Links (both his rounds at St Andrews were in the 60s), an event he hasn't played since 2008. In other words, he definitely has a links pedigree."

When Ben Curtis and Todd Hamilton won back-to-back Open Championships in 2003 and 2004, trends followers were left flummoxed.

Both were massive outsiders and neither had any sort of Open pedigree. In fact, Curtis, who was World No.393 at the time, was playing in his very first major.

And yet, maybe it isn't quite fair to lump them together as freak winners. Hamilton had actually captured the windy Honda Classic just four months previous and, as we'll see, an awful lot of Open winners (including 200/1 Royal St. George's champ Darren Clarke) had won earlier that season.

Since Curtis and Hamilton raised eyebrows, every Open winner has been a well-known name and following trends has worked out well.

So, here's a look at the last 10 Open champions and how they shaped at the time of their triumphs:


2014 - Rory McIlroy
Best previous Open finish: 3rd
Nationality: Northern Irish
Age at time: 25
World ranking at time: 8th
Best result that season prior to Open: Win
Form in majors that season: 8-23

2013 - Phil Mickelson
Best previous Open finish: 2nd
Nationality: American
Age at time: 43
World ranking at time: 5th
Best result that season prior to Open: Win
Form in majors that season: 54-2

2012 - Ernie Els
Best previous Open finish: Win
Nationality: South African
Age at time: 42
World ranking at time: 40th
Best result that season prior to Open: 2nd
Form in majors that season: DNP-9

2011 - Darren Clarke
Best previous Open finish: 2nd
Nationality: Northern Irish
Age at time: 42
World ranking at time: 111th
Best result that season prior to Open: Win
Form in majors that season: DNP-DNP

2010 - Louis Oosthuizen
Best previous Open finish: MC
Nationality: South African
Age at time: 27
World ranking at time: 54th
Best result that season prior to Open: Win
Form in majors that season: MC-MC

2009 - Stewart Cink
Best previous Open finish: 6th
Nationality: American
Age at time: 36
World ranking at time: 30th
Best result that season prior to Open: 3rd
Form in majors that season: MC-27

2008 - Padraig Harrington
Best previous Open finish: Win
Nationality: Irish
Age at time: 36
World ranking at time: 13th
Best result that season prior to Open: 3rd
Form in majors that season: 7-MC

2007 - Padraig Harrington
Best previous Open finish: 5th
Nationality: Irish
Age at time: 35
World ranking at time: 10th
Best result that season prior to Open: Win
Form in majors that season: 5-36

2006 - Tiger Woods
Best previous Open finish: Win
Nationality: American
Age at time: 30
World ranking at time: 1st
Best result that season prior to Open: Win
Form in majors that season: 3-MC

2005 - Tiger Woods
Best previous Open finish: Win
Nationality: American
Age at time: 29
World ranking at time: 1st
Best result that season prior to Open: Win
Form in majors that season: 1-2


Trends of past winners:

Open form
9 of last 10 Open winners had registered a top 6 in the event previously
7 of last 10 Open winners had registered a top 3 in the event previously

Nationality
4 of last 10 Open winners were American
4 of last 10 Open winners were Irish/Northern Irish
2 of last 10 Open winners were South African

Age
4 of last 10 Open winners were in their 30s
3 of last 10 Open winners were in their 40s
3 of last 10 Open winners were in their 20s
6 of last 10 Open winners were 35 or over

World ranking at the time
8 of last 10 Open winners were in the world's top 50
5 of last 10 Open winners were in the world's top 10

Form that season
7 of last 10 Open winners had won previously that season
10 of last 10 Open winners had posted a top 3 earlier that season

Form in the majors that season
7 of last 10 Open winners had posted a top 10 in the first two majors of the season
5 of last 10 Open winners had posted a top 10 in that season's Masters


St Andrews

The course is reported to be "quite soft" due to plenty of recent rain in the area so Driving Distance is likely to be an important asset - as it generally is at St Andrews.

Driving Distance ranking the season of St Andrews winners:
2010 Louis Oosthuizen 27th (European Tour)
2005 Tiger Woods 2nd (PGA Tour)
2000 Tiger Woods 2nd (PGA Tour)
1995 John Daly 1st (PGA Tour)


What we're looking for?

Taking the strongest trends, the ideal fit for an Open champion is as follows:

- Has had a previous top 6 in an Open
- In world's top 50
- Has won this season
- Had had top 10 in either 2015 Masters/US Open
- Is top 30 in Driving Distance on either Tour


Does anyone fit the bill?

Just two names come through all those checks:


Dustin Johnson - available to back at 14.5

DJ appears the best fit as his Open record shows a second place in 2011, a T9 at Lytham in 2012, a T12 at Hoylake last year and a T14 at St Andrews in 2010.


Justin Rose - available to back at 20.019/1

Rose, by contrast, only passes the Open test due to that famous T4 on debut as an amateur in 1997. He's never had a top 10 since and you have to go back to 2009 to find his last top 20. Then again, the Englishman won the 2014 Scottish Open on the links of Royal Aberdeen and put up a satisfactory defence at Gullane this year before fading over the weekend. He was also runner-up in the 2007 Dunhill Links (both his rounds at St Andrews were in the 60s), an event he hasn't played since 2008. In other words, he definitely has a links pedigree.


A near-miss candidate would be Adam Scott (24.023/1)

The Aussie has made the top five in the last three Opens, was top four in the recent U.S. Open and is 3rd in Driving Distance on the PGA Tour this year. He lacks a win this season but will hardly be short of confidence after that top four at Chambers Bay and the boost of having Steve Williams (a winner with Tiger at St Andrews) on the bag.


Another to go close - Rickie Fowler (34.033/1)

He was T2 in last year's Open, is ranked 10th in the world and won the Players Championship. He's a very marginal fail on the other two categories as he was T12 at Augusta and lies 47th in Driving Distance.

Of course, Johnson, Rose, Scott and Fowler are all in the top seven in the betting but, historically, the cream tends to rise to the top in Opens at St Andrews.

If you want one final tie-breaker, seven of the last eight Open winners at St Andrews, dating back to Jack Nicklaus in 1970, had already won a major before taking glory at the Old Course.

That would nudge 2013 U.S. Open champion Rose ahead of Johnson, who is still looking to make the big breakthrough.


*****


Not made your mind up who to back yet? Well don't miss Steve 'The Punter' Rawlings' stunning comprehensive preview of the Open Championship here, or visit our unrivalled Open pages here, featuring stats, analysis, course guides, in-play hints, and much much more as the week progresses.


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