History shows that the man who will be Open Champion of 2016 will be someone who has started well, but not brilliantly so

Who will be Open Champion of 2016? Well history can give us a steer on this one.

The matter of where the man who led The Open after the first round finally finishes the tournament has has been the subject of some analysis, not least by us at Golf Monthly. But less attention has been paid to what might be considered the reverse aspect – what were the leaderboard positons of the Open Champions after the first round?

This is a more useful tool for assessing who will be Open Champion of 2016.

The history of the past 25 Open Championships shows that the Open Champion tends to start well, but not brilliantly so. Only four of these 25 Open Champions were on top of the leaderboard, after round one. But most of them were among those towards the top of the leaderboard.

Only seven of the past 25 Open Champions were not in the top 10 after round one. Indeed only 11 of the 25 were not in the top five.

The worst start by a recent Open Champion was by Mark O’Meara in 1998. He finished round one tied in 62ndspot.

Padraig Hamilton finished the first round of the 2008 Open Championship tied in 39th, but went on to win the tournament by four shots.

Tied 29th was also where the Open Champion of 2004 Todd Hamilton was lying after the first round of that year’s championship.

Hamilton was one of the most unexpected winners of The Open. He inherited the Claret Jug from another unlikely winner, 750-1 outsider Ben Curtis, the 2003 Open Champion. Curtis was tied in 13th a quarter of the way through that 2003 Open Championship.

So, recent history suggests that there is a 56% chance that this year’s Open winner will be one of … well eleven men this time out due to eight golfers being in a tie for 4th. 

Or, to put in another way, there is a 58% chance that the Open winner will come from only 7% of the field.