Open Championship 2019 stats: Ten year trends point to...

American Matt Kuchar
Matt Kuchar ticks all the right boxes ahead of this year's Open Championship
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Dave Tindall looks at the make-up of the last 10 Open champions to try and find this year's winner...

"Matt Kuchar was 2nd at Royal Birkdale in 2017, T9 at Royal Lytham in 2012 and T9 at Carnoustie in 2018. He won the Sony Open earlier this year, was T16 at the U.S. Open on his latest start and is playing this week in the Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club."

It used to be the case that playing on a links course the week before was ideal prep for a potential Open champion.

But two of the last four Claret Jug winners - Zach Johnson (2015) and Francesco Molinari (2018) - had flown in from the U.S. having contested the John Deere Classic.

A birdie-fest on an American parkland track seems no sort of way to get ready for the Open but it seems there is something to be said for being tournament sharp.

Wherever it may be, playing the week before appears to be an advantage. You'll certainly find the current king of the majors, Brooks Koepka, agreeing with that as he won all four of his majors on the back of an outing the previous week.

Is it significant, therefore, that he isn't sticking to that winning formula ahead of Portrush?

One past trend that definitely applies in an Open is that experience counts for more in this major than any other.

All of the last 10 US Open winners were 32 or under and seven were in their 20s.

By contrast, seven of the last 10 Open winners were 35 or over and three were in their 40s.

So who is the best statistical fit for Royal Portrush this year?

To help work that out, here's a look at the last 10 Open champions and how they shaped up at the time of their triumphs:

2018 - Francesco Molinari

Best previous Open finish: 9th
Nationality: Italian
Age at time: 35
World ranking at time: 15th
Last 2 starts: 2-1
Played week before: Yes
Won that season: Yes

2017 - Jordan Spieth

Best previous Open finish: 4th
Nationality: American
Age at time: 23
World ranking at time: 3rd
Last 2 starts: 1-35
Played week before: No
Won that season: Yes

2016 - Henrik Stenson

Best previous Open finish: 2nd
Nationality: Swedish
Age at time: 40
World ranking at time: 6th
Last 2 starts: 13-1
Played week before: Yes
Won that season: Yes

2015 - Zach Johnson

Best previous Open finish: 6th
Nationality: American
Age at time: 39
World ranking at time: 25th
Last 2 starts: 3-6
Played week before: Yes
Won that season: No

2014 - Rory McIlroy

Best previous Open finish: 3rd
Nationality: Northern Irish
Age at time: 25
World ranking at time: 8th
Last 2 starts: 14-MC
Played week before: Yes
Won that season: Yes

2013 - Phil Mickelson

Best previous Open finish: 2nd
Nationality: American
Age at time: 43
World ranking at time: 5th
Last 2 starts: 1-MC
Played week before: Yes
Won that season: Yes

2012 - Ernie Els

Best previous Open finish: Win
Nationality: South African
Age at time: 42
World ranking at time: 40th
Last 2 starts: 52-9
Played week before: Yes
Won that season: No

2011 - Darren Clarke

Best previous Open finish: 2nd
Nationality: Northern Irish
Age at time: 42
World ranking at time: 111th
Last 2 starts: 66-MC
Played week before: Yes
Won that season: Yes

2010 - Louis Oosthuizen

Best previous Open finish: MC
Nationality: South African
Age at time: 27
World ranking at time: 54th
Last 2 starts: MC-MC
Played week before: Yes
Won that season: Yes

2009 - Stewart Cink

Best previous Open finish: 6th
Nationality: American
Age at time: 36
World ranking at time: 30th
Last 2 starts: MC-27
Played week before: No
Won that season: No

Trends of past winners:

Open form

- Nine of last 10 Open winners had registered a top 10 in the event previously
- Eight of last 10 Open winners had registered a top 6 in the event previously

Nationality

- Four of last 10 Open winners were American
- Two of last 10 Open winners were Irish/Northern Irish
- Two of last 10 Open winners were South African
- Two of last 10 Open winners was from Continental Europe

Age

- Three of last 10 Open winners were in their 30s
- Four of last 10 Open winners were in their 40s
- Three of last 10 Open winners were in their 20s
- Seven of last 10 Open winners were 35 or over

World ranking at the time

- Eight of last 10 Open winners were in the world's top 50
- Seven of last 10 Open winners were in the world's top 30
- Four of last 10 Open winners were in the world's top 10

Current form

- Seven of last 10 Open winners had posted a top 20 in one of their previous two starts
- Seven of last 10 Open winners had won earlier that season

Played week before

- Eight of last 10 Open winners had teed it up the week before.

Won that season

- Seven of last 10 Open winners had won that season.

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
- Is 35 or over
- In world's top 30
- Has a top 20 in one of their previous two starts
- Played the week before
- Has won this season
- Is not the defending champion (10 of last 10 have failed to win the following year)

Does anyone fit the bill?

Just one name comes through all those checks:

Matt Kuchar - available to back at [70.0] on the exchange.

The 41-year-old American, who sits 13th in the world rankings, was 2nd at Royal Birkdale in 2017, T9 at Royal Lytham in 2012 and T9 at Carnoustie in 2018. He won the Sony Open earlier this year, was T16 at the U.S. Open on his latest start and is playing this week in the Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club.

That's enough to make him the only man to tick every box but, as a bonus, six of the last seven Open winners had bagged a top 11 in one of their previous three majors. Kuchar was T8 at Bethpage Black.

Note that last year's Open runner-up Kevin Kisner could also qualify if he makes the top 20 in this week's Scottish Open.

Dave Tindall,

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