The Open

Open Championship 2024: 10-year trends point to...

The Claret Jug at Royal Troon
Who will win the Claret Jug at Royal Troon this year?

Dave Tindall looks at the make-up of the last 10 Open champions to try and find this year's winner at Royal Troon...

Golf Only Bettor - The Open Championship Preview

Brian Harman certainly didn't go unbacked when winning the Open at a three-figure price at Hoylake last year and he actually flashed up quite strongly on the trends.

The left-hander was a good age for the major best suited to more experienced players, was fairly high up the world rankings, had finished sixth at St Andrews the year before, was in excellent form, had once finished runner-up in a major and had played the previous week's Scottish Open.

This year the tournament heads to Royal Troon where Americans had won the previous six Opens held there (between 1962 and 2004) before Swede Henrik Stenson won a thrilling shootout down the stretch with Phil Mickelson in 2016.

For this year's showdown I've listed 10 categories: World Ranking, Nationality, Age, Open Form, Winning Form, Recent Majors Form, Majors Excellence, Current Form, Week Before and Course Fit.

Let's enjoy this walk through the last 10 years of Open history and see which players come out as the best fit for Royal Troon.


I'll use this category to highlight the points system. The key is frequency. So, in this article, it's how many times something has happened in the last 10 editions of the Open Championship. Looking at world rankings, six of the last 10 winners were ranked inside the top 10 in the OWGR. Therefore, those in that category this year score 6pts.

But it hasn't been a monopoly: Harman was 26th when winning last year, Shane Lowry (2019) 33rd, Zach Johnson (2015) 25th and Francesco Molinari (2018) 15th so players currently ranked 11th to 35th score 4pts. Anyone outside the top 35 draws a blank.

A final important note here. Because of LIV golf, the world rankings have been skewed due to that tour not receiving any OWGR points. Therefore I'll go off the Datagolf rankings which offer a fairer assessment of who's been playing well across the different tours.

Ranked in Datagolf's top 10 = 6pts
Ranked 11th to 35th by Datagolf = 4pts
Ranked over 35th by Datagolf = 0pts


Americans are threatening to sweep the 2024 Majors. Scottie Scheffler won the US Masters, Xander Schauffele the US PGA and Bryson DeChambeau the US Open. There was a time when Americans dominated this event too and from 1995 to 2006, US players won 10 of the 12 Opens despite many not having much experience on the links. That frequency has diminished but Harman's victory last year was their fifth win in the last 10 editions. Of the remainder in the study period, four have gone to Europeans and one to an Aussie.

American = 5pts
Europeans = 4pts
Internationals = 1pts


The Open tends to be won by very talented young bucks or those with plenty of experience. The 36-year-old Harman struck a blow for the latter last year.

Let's focus on the successful age ranges. Five of the last 10 champions were 35 or over so those in that age bracket this year get 5pts. We've seen three winners aged 25 or below so those in that younger generation get 3pts and the 2pts.

Aged 35 or over = 5pts
Aged up to 25 = 3pts

Aged between 26 and 34 = 2pts

Open Form

Harman seemed a surprise winner but he'd finished sixth at St Andrews just 12 months earlier. That means eight of the last 10 Open winners had already posted a top 10 in the event. That's a strong trend.

Top 10 in an Open = 8pts
11th-20th in an Open/debut = 2pts

Winning form

Having a win earlier in the season has been common to eight of the last 10 Open champions so that's another strong trend even though it didn't apply to Harman.

Going back, Cam Smith had won The Players Championship and The Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier in 2022 while Collin Morikawa had captured the WGC-Workday Championship in February 2021 before winning at Royal St George's.

Of the two exceptions, Zach Johnson had managed a third while Harman had a second place to his name.

Won that season = 8pts
Posted a second or third that season = 2pts

Recent Majors Form

As we've noted in all these trends previews, winners at this level almost always don't come out of thin air; they've usually advertised their credentials with a good performance in a recent Major.

Despite some slightly surprise winners of the Claret Jug, eight of the last 10 had posted a top 20 in one of their previous two Majors so it's a very strong pointer.

Top 20 in one of their last two Majors = 8pts
Posted a 21st-25th in last two Majors = 2pt

Major Excellence

Although having a good run in a recent Major is seen as a big plus, is it an advantage to have won one already? The simple answer is no as five of the last 10 had won one and five hadn't.

But if we widen the lens to near misses, we scoop up everyone as all of the last 10 Open winners had already posted a top two in a Major during their careers. Yep, Harman was a former US Open runner-up. That's bad news for Patrick Cantlay and Max Homa, who score 0pts.

Top two in a Major = 10pts
No top two in a Major = 0pts

Current Form

Although links golf can be regarded as a unique test that sees the specialists come to the fore whatever their current form, the numbers say it's important to have had a good recent finish. Harman was certainly in fine form after coming in with form figures of 12-9-2.

Overall, nine of the last 10 Open champions had posted at least one top 10 in one of their three previous starts. The conclusion seems to be, if you're playing well, that translates well to an Open course even if it is a completely different test on paper. The odd man out, surprisingly, was McIlroy. His best was a 14th before winning at Hoylake in 2014.

Top 10 in one of three previous starts = 9pts
Finish of 11th-15th in one of three previous starts = 1pt

Week Before

Is it a smart idea to play the week before and, if so, where?

It makes sense that playing some links golf ahead of the Open would be a smart ploy but we've seen fairly recent Open winners lift the Claret Jug a week after contesting the John Deere Classic, despite that course being nothing like a links track.

Overall, history says playing anywhere is a good move and with Harman (2023), Smith (2022) and Morikawa (2021) playing the Scottish Open, eight of the last 10 Open winners teed it up the week before.

Played previous week = 8pts
Had previous week off = 2pts

Course fit

The top four in the most recent Open to be held at Royal Troon ranked 7th, 1st, 4th and 3rd for Scrambling. Wind back and six of the first seven home in the 2004 Open there ranked in the top 12 for Scrambling. It's a key weapon on the famed Scottish links.

Stenson, the 2016 winner at Troon, had been 2nd for Scrambling at the BMW International Open in Germany two starts earlier. Being sharp around the greens is important and seven of the last 10 Open winners had ranked 10th or better for Scrambling in at least one of their three previous starts. Two others had ranked 13th and 19th.

Top 10 for Scrambling in one of three previous starts = 7pts
Ranked 11th-20th for Scrambling in one of three previous starts = 2pts

The Top Points Scorers

The scores are in and - drumroll - these are the rankings:

73 Rory McIlroy
71 Xander Schauffele
66 Bryson DeChambeau
65 Collin Morikawa, Hideki Matsuyama
62 Tommy Fleetwood
60 Scottie Scheffler, Brian Harman
59 Viktor Hovland, Ludvig Aberg

It's Rory!

There could still be some shuffling beneath him if certain players win the Scottish Open or gain/lose points for Scrambling performance there but, whatever happens, McIlroy cannot be caught.

What nudges him in front? Age!

McIlroy turned 35 in May and while that counted against him in the American majors where younger players have done best, the trends say it's an attribute when trying to solve the nuances of links golf.

Many will say the Northern Irishman is now damaged goods after somehow losing the US Open last month but a fifth place at Royal Troon in 2016 suggests he may have the last laugh.

A top 10 for Tommy Fleetwood in Scotland would vault him up to third place in the standings, making him a good proposition at 25/126.00.

But, at the odds, the 40/141.00 about Hideki Matsuyama stands out.

The Japanese star is joint-fourth in the trends and in three June starts was eighth at Memorial, sixth at the US Open and 23rd in the Travelers.

Yeah, but can he play links golf?

There are certainly some signs of encouragement when plouging through his past Open results.

The 2021 Masters champ was sixth on debut at Muirfield, 18th at St Andrews in 2015, 14th at Royal Birkdale in 2017 and 13th at Hoylake last year.

Update after Scottish Open

As mentioned above, Rory couldn't be caught but there has been movement beneath him due to changes in scrambling stats, movement in the Datagolf rankings and results from the Scottish Open and LIV Golf tournament in Valderrama.

DeChambeau has joined Schauffele in tied second while others dropping down mean Shane Lowry has moved up to joint fifth.

Tyrrell Hatton has also moved into the top five thanks to some strong scrambling in his third place at Valderrama.

73 Rory McIlroy
71 Xander Schauffele, Bryson DeChambeau
65 Hideki Matsuyama
60 Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, Shane Lowry, Brian Harman, Tyrrell Hatton
57 Viktor Hovland

Now read more Golf tips and previews here.


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