Padraig Harrington can join an extremely elite club on the picturesque Ailsa Course. (Cannon/Getty Images)
Notebook: Harrington seeks to join Thomson with three-peat
By Mark Williams, PGA TOUR Staff
TURNBERRY, Scotland -- Defending champion Padraig Harrington became the 26th player to record multiple Open Championship titles (2008/Royal Birkdale, 2007/Carnoustie). He is just the sixth player to post consecutive victories since 1951 (and 16th overall), joining Tiger Woods (2005-06), Tom Watson (1982-83), Lee Trevino (1971-72), Arnold Palmer (1961-62) and Peter Thomson (1954-56). Thomson was the only player to win the Open three times in a row during the 20th century.
LAST CHANCE AT HISTORY: Greg Norman (1986/1993) and Nick Faldo (1987/1992) have a lot of intertwined history at major championships. Now they have a final chance to make more history at Turnberry. Should either player win the Open, he would join Gary Player (1959/1968/1974), J.H. Taylor (1894/1900/1913) and Harry Vardon (1896/1903/1911) as the only players to win the Open in three consecutive decades.
TIGER IN SCOTLAND: Of the 13 consecutive Open Championships Tiger Woods has played (1995-2007), he has finished outside the top 25 just twice, both times in Scotland (1995/tied for 68th/St. Andrews, 2002/tied for 28th/Muirfield). Woods has never played an Open at Turnberry, although two of his three victories have come in Scotland, both at St. Andrews.
TURNBERRY TOUGHENED: Turnberry has been lengthened by 247 yards since the Open was last played there 15 years ago. The new layout features six new tees, including a 200-yard drive over the bay near the famous lighthouse at the 10th hole. A total of 135 yards have been added to the final three holes, with the par-5 17th stretched from 498 to 559 yards and the 16th changing from a 410-yard straightaway hole to a 455-yard dogleg right. The course, which has hosted the Open in 1977, 1986 and 1994, now has an overall length of 7,204 yards, up from 6,957.
WATSON RETURNS: Tom Watson, a five-time Open champion, returns to the scene of the “Duel in the Sun,” where he and Jack Nicklaus went shot-for-shot during that famous weekend in 1977. Watson shattered the Open scoring record (it stood for 16 years), shooting 268 to clip Nicklaus by a shot. Hubert Green finished third, 10 further shots back. Watson said recently, “Rarely did I go into a tournament thinking, ‘I’m the man to beat this week.’ But that was one of those rare tournaments when I thought that.”
AMATEUR ACTION: Chris Wood’s fifth-place finish at the 2008 Open was just the third top-10 finish by an amateur in a major championship since 1970. The others were Justin Rose (tied for fourth/Royal Birkdale/1998) and Jim Simons (tied for fifth/U.S. Open/1971).
ELS' EXCELLENCE: Ernie Els has an exceptional Open Championship record. After missing the cut by two strokes in his 1989 debut, Els has finished outside the top-30 just once (tied for 34th in 2005) in 17 consecutive appearances (1992-2008), including 11 top-10s, eight top-fives, and victory in 2002.
TURNBERRY TOURNAMENTS: This will mark the fourth time Turnberry has hosted the Open (1977, 1986, 1994, 2009). The venue has also played host to the Walker Cup in 1963, the 2002 Women’s British Open and the Senior British Open six times (1987-90, 2003, 2006).
SAVING ON SAND: Turnberry has the fewest number of bunkers of all courses on the Open Championship rota, with 65.
• Nick Price, who won at Turnberry in 1994, is the past champion with the most appearances before his first victory: 16.
• Jack Nicklaus has finished second/tied second more times than any other player -- seven (1964, ’67, ’68, ’72, ’76, ’77, ’79).
• Denny Shute (1933/St. Andrews) is the only Open champion to post the same number of strokes in each of his four rounds (73-73-73-73), excluding playoffs.
• Ben Curtis (USA) is the most recent champion to win in his debut (2003/Sandwich).
• Only three players have won the Open with four rounds in the 60s: Greg Norman (68-68-69-64/Royal St. Georges/1993), Nick Price (69-66-67-66/Turnberry/1994) and Tiger Woods (67-66-67-69/St. Andrews/2000). Jesper Parnevik shot four rounds in the 60s and finished second to Price in 1994. Ernie Els has posted four sub-70 rounds in two Opens (1993-tied for sixth/1994-second in a playoff) and failed to win both.
• The lowest 18-hole score in any of the four Grand Slam events is 63, recorded seven times at the Open Championship, and twice at Turnberry (Mark Hayes/Round 2/1977, Greg Norman/Round 2/1986). Of the 21 players who have shot 63, Greg Norman and Vijay Singh are the only players to do it twice.
• Denis Durnian holds the nine-hole record, with 28 over the first nine at Royal Birkdale in 1983. Eleven players have posted 29 for nine holes at several venues, however, none at Turnberry.