European Golf Tour
PGA European - British Open Preview
From The Sports Network

DATES: Thursday, July 18th through Sunday, July 21st
SITE: Muirfield Golf Club, Gullane, East Lothian, Scotland
COURSE ARCHITECT: Hall Blyth (1891)
PAR: 71
YARDAGE: 7,192
Hole-By-Hole:1 - Par 4 447 Yds10 - Par 4 469 Yds
2 - Par 4 364 Yds11 - Par 4 387 Yds
3 - Par 4 377 Yds12 - Par 4 379 Yds
4 - Par 3 226 Yds13 - Par 3 190 Yds
5 - Par 5 559 Yds14 - Par 4 475 Yds
6 - Par 4 461 Yds15 - Par 4 448 Yds
7 - Par 3 184 Yds16 - Par 3 186 Yds
8 - Par 4 441 Yds17 - Par 5 575 Yds
9 - Par 5 554 Yds18 - Par 4 470 Yds
--------------------------
36 3,613 Yds35 3,579 Yds
 
Annual:  142nd
Television:  ESPN - Thursday/Friday -- 5 a.m.-3 p.m. (ET),
  - Saturday -- 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (ET),
  - Sunday -- 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (ET)
Defending Champion:  Ernie Els
Runner-Up:  Adam Scott
Tournament Record:  267 (Greg Norman, 1993 - Royal St. George's)
54-Hole Record:  198 (Tom Lehman, 1996 - Royal Lytham & St. Annes)
36-Hole Record:  130 (Nick Faldo, 1992 - Muirfield,
  Brandt Snedeker, 2012 - Royal Lytham & St. Annes)
18-Hole Record:  63 (Mark Hayes, 1977 - Turnberry)
  (Isao Aoki, 1980 - Muirfield)
  (Greg Norman, 1986 - Turnberry)
  (Paul Broadhurst, 1990 - St. Andrews)
  (Jodie Mudd, 1991 - Royal Birkdale)
  (Nick Faldo, Payne Stewart, 1993 - Royal St. George's)
  (Rory McIlroy, 2010 - St. Andrews)
Total Purse:  $8,023,324 (5,250,000 pounds) - Rates as of July 3, 2013
Shares:  1st Place - $1,444,250; 2nd Place - $832,891; 3rd Place - $534,884
 
2012 Finish
PlayerScorePlayerScore
Ernie Els273Graeme McDowell278
Adam Scott274Thomas Aiken279
Brandt Snedeker277Nicolas Colsaerts279
Tiger Woods27710 players at280
Luke Donald278

* - Won in Playoff

Top Contenders in the Field
Player2003200420052006200720082009201020112012
Ernie ElsT-182ndT-343rdT-4T-7T-8mcmcWon
Adam ScottmcT-42T-34T-8T-27T-16mcT-27T-252nd
Brandt Snedeker---------------mcmc---mcT-3
Tiger WoodsT-4T-9WonWonT-12---mcT-23---T-3
Luke DonaldmcmcT-52T-35T-63---T-5T-11mcT-5
Graeme McDowell---mcT-11T-61mcT-19T-34T-23mcT-5
Dustin Johnson------------------mcT-14T-2T-9
Zach Johnson---mcmcmcT-20T-51T-47T-76T-16T-9
Miguel A. Jimenez---T-47T-52T-41T-12mcT-13T-27T-25T-9
Matt Kuchar------------mcmcmcT-27mcT-9
Ian PoulterT-46T-25T-11mcT-272ndmcT-60mcT-9
Mark CalcavecchiamcT-11T-60T-41T-23mcT-2773rdmcT-9
Geoff Ogilvy------T-5T-16mcmcmcmcmcT-9
Vijay SinghT-2T-20T-5mcT-27mcT-38T-37---T-9
Louis Oosthuizen---mc---mc------mcWonT-54T-19
Hunter Mahan---T-36---T-26T-6mcmcT-37mcT-19
Simon Dyson---mcT-34T-48---mc---T-48T-9T-23
Steve Stricker------------T-8T-7T-52T-55T-12T-23
Bubba Watson------------------mcmcT-30T-23
Nick Watney------------T-35---T-27T-7mcT-23
Rickie Fowler---------------------T-14T-5T-31
Jim Furykmcmcmc4thT-12T-5T-34mcT-48T-34
Paul LawriemcmcT-52mcmcmcT-47mcT-66T-34
Keegan Bradley---------------------------T-34
K.J.ChoiT-22T-16T-41mcT-8T-16mcmcT-44T-39
Padraig HarringtonT-22mc---mcWonWonT-65mcmcT-39
Lee Westwoodmc4thmcT-31T-35T-67T-32ndmcT-45
Ross Fisher------------mcT-39T-13T-37mcT-45
Thomas BjornT-2mcmcT-41T-53------mc4thT-54
Rory McIlroy------------T-42---T-47T-3T-25T-60
Retief GoosenT-10T-7T-5T-14T-23T-32T-56thwdT-64
Chad CampbellT-15mcmc65thmc---mc---T-5T-72
John DalyT-72mcT-15mcmcmcT-27T-48mcT-81
Darren ClarkeT-59T-11T-15mcmc---T-52T-44Wonmc
Phil MickelsonT-593rdT-60T-22mcT-19---T-48T-2mc
Raphael JacquelinT-53T-54------T-65---mc---8thmc
Sergio GarciaT-10mcT-5T-52ndT-51T-38T-14T-9mc
Davis Love IIIT-4T-5mcmcmcT-19T-27mcT-9mc
Martin Kaymer---------------80thT-34T-7T-12mc
Lucas Glover---------mcT-27T-78mcT-48T-12mc
Charl Schwartzelmc---mcT-22mc---mcT-14T-16mc
Y.E. Yang------mc---mc------T-60T-16mc
Tom LehmanT-46mcT-23mcT-51T-32T-60T-14T-22mc
Tom WatsonT-18---T-41T-48---mc2ndmcT-22mc
Stewart CinkT-34T-14mcmcT-6mcWonT-48T-30mc
Robert Rock------T-67T-16------mcT-7T-38mc
Justin Rosemc---------T-12T-70T-13mcT-44mc
Robert AllenbyT-43mcT-52T-16mcT-7T-52T-27T-48mc
Paul CaseymcT-20mc71stT-27T-7T-47T-3T-54mc
Alvaro Quiros------------------mcT-11mcmc
Justin LeonardmcT-16T-52---mcT-16T-8mcmcmc
Angel CabreraT-22---mc7th34thmcT-24mcmcmc
Ben CurtisWonmcmcmcT-8T-7mcmcmcmc
Todd HamiltonmcWonmcT-68mcT-32mcmcmcmc
David Duvalmc---mcT-56---T-39mcmcmcmc
Sandy Lylemc73rdT-32mcT-65wdmcmcmcmc
Robert Karlsson---------T-35mcT-7---T-14mc---
Sports Network Selections

Pick to Win - Luke Donald, Charl Schwartzel, Ernie Els
Darkhorse - Jason Day, Jason Dufner, Hunter Mahan
 
Last Week's Pick to Win (Phil Mickelson) - Won
Last Week's Darkhorse (Robert Rock) - Missed the cut
 
NOTES:
Can world No. 1 Tiger Woods prove to the world that he is all the way back and win his 15th major championship? Will Ernie Els defend his title from last year and from 2002 at Muirfield? Can Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel or Keegan Bradley win a second major? Will Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood or Sergio Garcia claim their first major championship? Will Phil Mickelson win his third leg of the career grand slam and capture his fifth major? These questions will all be answered this week as the 142nd British Open Championship takes shape at Muirfield. This will be the 16th British Open to be played at Muirfield and first since 2002, when Els won his first of two British Opens.

Woods is playing for the first time since finishing tied for 32nd at the U.S. Open five weeks ago. He has not played since due to an elbow injury. Woods is the only player on the PGA Tour with four wins this season.

Last year, Els won in a stunning final round at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that saw Scott bogey the last four holes to lose by one. Scott held a 4-shot lead with four to play and bogeyed them all. Els drained a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th, then watched Scott miss an 8-foot par save at the last to give Els his fourth major title. Els picked up his second Claret Jug after he won at Muirfield in 2002. He won the U.S. Open in both 1994 and 1997 and has now captured major titles in three different decades. Els fought back from seven behind after two rounds. Brandt Snedeker, who held the 36-hole lead at a record-tying 130, finished tied for third with Woods.

In 2011, Darren Clarke fought off challenges by Mickelson and Dustin Johnson in the final round to win. Clarke fired rounds of 68-68-69-70 to finish at 5-under-par 275 for a 3-stroke win over Mickelson and Johnson. It was Clarke's first major championship title in his 54th attempt. His best previous finish in the four majors both came at this championship -- second in 1997 and third in 2001.

Clarke's win gave Northern Ireland its second straight major championship title and third in six majors contested. Rory McIlroy won the U.S. Open in June of 2011, a year after Graeme McDowell won the same event. The back-to- back wins for Northern Ireland were the first for any country other than the United States since 1910. Clarke was also the second player from Northern Ireland to win the Claret Jug, joining Fred Daly, who won the crown in 1947. He also became the first major champion over the age of 40 since Vijay Singh won the PGA Championship in 2004. It was Clarke's 20th start at the British Open, which breaks the record for most starts before winning the title. Nick Price had the old record, winning the British Open in his 15th appearance.

Oosthuizen shot rounds of 65-67-69-71 in 2010 to finish his first major championship title in style at 16-under-par 272. He ended seven strokes clear of Westwood on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Oosthuizen became the fourth South African to win this event, joining Bobby Locke, Gary Player and Els. Locke also won at St. Andrews. Americans Sean O'Hair and Nick Watney tied for seventh. It was the first time since 1969 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that there were no Americans in the top five at a British Open.

In 2009, Stewart Cink denied Tom Watson's run at history by winning in a 4- hole playoff. Cink totaled 14 strokes in the extra session, while Watson needed 20 shots in the same stretch at Turnberry. For Cink, it was his sixth PGA Tour win and first major championship. Watson had been going for his record-tying sixth Open Championship title and was trying to become the oldest major champion. Cink posted a 1-under 69 in regulation, that included a birdie on the 72nd hole to post 2-under-par 278. Watson led by one on the 18th tee of regulation, but knocked his approach over the green at the last and could not save par. Watson shot 2-over 72 in the final round to match Cink at minus-2. Cink never owned a piece of the lead until his birdie putt dropped on the 72nd hole.

Harrington became the fifth player in 50 years to successfully defend his title in 2008. Harrington fired an outstanding, 1-under 69 in the final round to win his second major championship at 3-over 283. He was an amazing 4-under on his back nine when conditions intensified at Royal Birkdale. Greg Norman's amazing run at becoming the oldest major champion ended on the back nine of the final round. The 53-year-old and 2-time former British Open champion held the lead on the 10th tee, but four back-9 bogeys derailed his chances. Norman, who held the third-round lead, finished with a 7-over 77 and tied for third place.

Harrington joined Woods (2005-06), Watson (1982-83), Lee Trevino (1971-72) and Arnold Palmer (1961-62) as the only players to repeat in the last 50 years. Amateur Chris Wood finished in a tie for fifth in 2008. It was just the third top-10 finish by an amateur in any major championship since 1970, joining Justin Rose (T-4 at 1998 British Open) and Jim Simons (T-5 at 1971 U.S. Open).

In 2007, Harrington got a second chance and defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff to earn his first major at Carnoustie. Harrington took the aggregate, four-hole playoff 15-16. Harrington became the first European to win a major since Paul Lawrie titled at Carnoustie in 1999. Harrington made a disastrous double-bogey on the 72nd hole in regulation, but Garcia followed him with a bogey at 18 to force the 4-hole playoff to decide the title.

With his win in 2007, Harrington became the first Irishman to win the British Open since Northern Ireland's Fred Daly in 1947. Harrington's 6-stroke comeback in the final round was the largest come-from-behind win since Lawrie came from 10 strokes back to win at Carnoustie in 1999.

Woods successfully defended his title in 2006 with a 2-shot victory at Royal Liverpool. He was threatened by Chris DiMarco on the back nine, but three consecutive birdies from the 14th allowed Woods to shoot a final-round, 5-under 67. Woods finished the event at 18-under-par 270. It was Woods' third British Open title and first at a venue other than St. Andrews. It was his first victory since his father, Earl, passed away in May of 2006.

In 2005, Woods captured his second British Open championship at the Old Course at St. Andrew's to become the second player in golf history to win the career Grand Slam twice. He did it on the same course where he completed his first slam. In 2000, Woods dusted the field at St. Andrews to win and become the fifth player in golf history to win all four major championships. In 2005, he joined Jack Nicklaus as the only players to do it more than once. Woods opened the event with a 66 and never looked back, as he led wire- to-wire. With his win, Woods became the sixth player to win this event in wire-to-wire fashion. The others are: Ted Ray (1912), Bobby Jones (1927), Gene Sarazen (1932), Henry Cotton (1934) and Tom Weiskopf (1973). He became the fifth player to win two British Opens at St. Andrews, joining Bob Martin (1876, 1885), J.H. Taylor (1895, 1900), James Braid (1905, 1910) and Nicklaus (1970, 78). Woods won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in 2008 to join Nicklaus as the only two players to win the career Grand Slam three times.

Nicklaus competed in the final major of his career in 2005 at St. Andrews. The same week Nicklaus bowed out of competitive golf, Woods completed another type of slam. Every major championship Nicklaus stepped away from, Woods hoisted the trophy. It first started in 2000 at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, then a few months later at Valhalla, Woods claimed the PGA Championship. Earlier in 2005, Nicklaus announced it would be his last trip to the Masters as a player and Woods went on to defeat Chris DiMarco in a playoff. In his 14 appearances at the British Open as a professional, Woods has three wins, eight top-10s and one missed cut.

In 2004, for the second consecutive year, an underdog of the biggest proportion captured the title. Todd Hamilton joined 2003 winner Curtis as British Open champions, as he outdueled Els in a playoff to capture the Claret Jug. When Curtis won in 2003, he was the 396th-ranked player in the world. He stunned the planet's best with his final round of 69 and a 1-shot win over Thomas Bjorn and Vijay Singh. Curtis, who jumped to 35th in the world after his win, became the first player since Francis Ouimet at the 1913 U.S. Open to capture a major in his first major appearance. With his win in 2004, Hamilton became the second consecutive rookie on the PGA Tour to win this event. Prior to winning, Hamilton was ranked 96th in the world and climbed to 16th after the win.

Harry Vardon, J.H. Taylor and Gary Player are the only players to win the British Open in three different decades. Henry Cotton set the record for the largest 54-hole lead in British Open history when he took a 10-stroke advantage into the final round at Sandwich in 1934. Cotton carded a final- round 79, but still won by five over Sidney Brews.

The European Tour travels to Russia next week for the inaugural Russian Open at Tseleevo Golf & Polo Club in the Moscow Region.

07/17 22:53:38 ET

As of July 17, 2013, at 10:54 PM ET