Seven notable first-round stats that indicate how the Open Championship might unfold Friday, provided by Golf World contributing writer Brett Avery, who compiles the Rank and File statistical sections for the magazine's coverage of the major championships and other significant events.
Overnight leader Adam Scott (shown above) has endured plenty of grief from fellow Australians for his spotty record in major championships: 45 starts, including the last 44 straight, but only seven top-10 finishes against 15 missed cuts. Since the start of 2011, though, Scott has conjured his strongest stretch: T-2 in the '11 Masters, solo seventh in the '11 PGA Championship, T-8 at this year's Masters and T-15 in last month's U.S. Open. Scott's 151st career major round, however, marks his first time in the lead and only an 18-hole bogey cost him a record-tying 63. Scott's second-round scoring average in majors is 72.42 but he's 70.33 on Fridays since the '11 Masters, breaking par three times. In case you want to look beyond the horizon, Scott ranks 163rd this season on the PGA Tour in third-round scoring average (72.43) but 12th in final-round scoring (69.86).
Only five first-round Open leaders have won since 1975: Tom Watson (1980 at Muirfield), Seve Ballesteros (1988 at Lytham), Greg Norman (1993 at Royal St. George's), John Daly (1995 at St. Andrews) and Tiger Woods (2005 at St. Andrews). In the first 11 Opens at Lytham, only three first-round leaders have proven victorious: Peter Thomson in '58, Gary Player in '74 and Ballesteros in '88. Perhaps even more dispiriting for Scott, only two first-round leaders have won on the PGA Tour this season (George McNeill at the Puerto Rico Open, Zach Johnson at the Crown Plaza Invitational at Colonial). [h/t PGA Tour]
The last six holes at Royal Lytham & St. Annes did not destroy players as readily as it might have in blustery conditions, although they still handed out plenty of bruises. Seven players among the top 20 and ties (21 players) avoided dropping any shots in that stretch: Paul Lawrie, Nicolas Colsaerts (each 65/T-2); Brandt Snedeker (66/solo fifth); Jamie Donaldson, Scott Pinckney, Anders Hansen and Anirban Lahiri (each 68/T14). Lawrie shot 65 in the final round at St. George's in 1993 (T-6) and Hansen tied his Open best, posted in both '08 and '09. Snedeker, Colsaerts, Donaldson and Pinckney had the lowest rounds of their brief major careers while Lahiri, who has four top 10s on the Asian Tour this year to climb to 226th in the world, was making his major debut.
On the opposite end of that scale:
--Scott bogeyed the 18th to miss out on the first 62 in major history (or the 26th round of 63, depending on one's expectation of his finish).
--Zach Johnson (65/T-2) bogeyed the 17th to fumble a share of the lead the week after winning a playoff at the John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour.
--Graeme McDowell (67/T-6) bogeyed the 15th and 18th.
--Rory McIlroy (67/T-6) missed one of only three fairways at the 15th, conking a spectator in the head with his errant drive and seeing the ball carom out-of-bounds en route to a double.
--Paul Casey (72/T-80) was three under on the 13th tee but finished bogey-par-double-birdie-double-bogey.
--Lee Westwood (73/T-99) made four bogeys coming home
--Ryo Ishikawa stood one under on the 14th tee but reeled off five bogeys for 74/T-115.
Ernie Els (67/T-6) produced his 37th sub-70 score of his Open career, tying him with Nick Faldo and three ahead of Jack Nicklaus. Els has at least one round in the 60s in every Open since 2000 with the exception of last year (72-76, missed cut at Royal St. George's). He also stands No. 3 on the list of most sub-par rounds since 1963 with 46, passing Tom Watson and trailing only Faldo (53) and Jack Nicklaus (59). What are the chances he shoots another round in the 60s this week? When making a prediction, free to cite either his A] multiple rounds in the 60s in five majors since the '09 Open or B] his 69-79 to miss the cut in '10 at St. Andrews.
ThorbjÃ¿rn Olesen birdied every par-3 hole en route to a one-under 69. Nine of the top 21 players birdied both par 5s: Scott, Johnson, Snedeker, Els, Bubba Watson (67/T-6), McDowell, Toshinori Muto (67/T-6), McIlroy and Anders Hansen (68/T-14). K.J. Choi and Keegan Bradley both eagled the seventh and birdied the 11th while shooting 70 and 71, respectively.
All 156 players broke 80 as the field scoring average settled at 71.583. That's the first time everyone has broken 80 in the first round of a major championship since 1998 at Royal Birkdale, a streak of 55 tournaments. The high score Thursday was by Michael Hoey, who birdied the 18th for his 79. Fourteen years ago at Birkdale the top scores were eight-over 78s by Bradley Dredge, Francis Howley, Gary Orr and Toru Suzuki. Eleven players failed to break 80 in a second round in '98 on a day the field averaged 74.758.