Jul
20
2010
By the Numbers: How Shrek Won
By Merf under British Open

Disclaimer: This is not to say that Lodewicus Theodorus Oosthuizen should not have, or did not deserve to win the British Open. He won by seven strokes, a margin bettered just once since World War II, and he shot a whopping 16-under. This is an effort to try to explain what we saw. How did Oosthuizen put together one of the most convincing wins in British Open history? I always find the how more interesting than the what, anyway. It’s why we woke up at 6 a.m. to watch, no?

Rexford Buzzsaw put together its equal weather British Open leader board, and for those of you looking for advanced stats on golf, this is one of the only sites out there that I’ve found (@jamessherrill on Twitter).

Yes, Oosthuizen wins the British Open no matter how you break it down, but here are the breaks that went his way, leading to such a stress-free stroll around the back nine at the Old Course on Sunday:

  • Weather adjusted, Oosthuizen beat runner-up Lee Westwood by three strokes, not seven.
  • Oosthuizen played in the 14th easiest conditions for the week, with a weather-adjusted par at 288.30 for his tee times. Tiger Woods had the 10th toughest weather-adjusted par at 292.73, while Martin Kaymer caught the second worst weather at 294.09.
  • Oosthuizen drew the biggest break in the second round when the worst weather hit, going off as the second group and playing a course that was nearly six strokes easier than the one first-round leader Rory McIlroy got stuck on.
  • Teeing off in the morning vs. afternoon in the first round was worth 2.2 strokes, but since Oosthuizen had an early time in the afternoon wave, some of that difference was negated, as he was able to sneak in some good golf before the conditions worsened significantly.
  • On Saturday, when Oosthuizen was playing in the last group and would have caught the brunt of the weather the first two days, there was only a 0.6 stroke difference between conditions for the first group and the last group. This lack of disparity prevented players further down the leader board from playing a different/easier course and getting back into the championship.
  • After three rounds, Oosthuizen and Casey had virtually the same weather-adjusted score. Kaymer was only two strokes back. But of course, Casey trailed by four in real life, and Kaymer was a distant seven behind.
  • Mark Calcavecchia, who was second at 7-under after two rounds, was actually 27th in weather-adjusted scoring. His lucky breaks caught up to him on the weekend, as he finished 76th out of the 77 players who made the cut.

And just for fun, here are the 20 best rounds of the championship. Oosthuizen, Mcllroy and Rickie Fowler were the only players to have two rounds in the top 20:

rank player round relative
1 Paul Casey 3 -7.64
2 Rory McIlroy 1 -7.55
3 Miguel Angel Jimenez 2 -7.19
4 Rickie Fowler 2 -6.91
5 Henrik Stenson 3 -6.66
6 Graeme McDowell 2 -6.42
7 Jin Jeong 2 -6.39
8 Louis Oosthuizen 1 -6.28
9 Peter Hanson 1 -6.11
10 Darren Clarke 2 -6.11
11 Martin Kaymer 3 -5.96
12 Rory McIlroy 4 -5.90
13 Alvaro Quiros 4 -5.89
14 Rickie Fowler 4 -5.77
15 Bradley Dredge 1 -5.56
16 Robert Rock 3 -5.51
17 Lee Westwood 1 -5.38
18 Danny Chia 1 -5.34
19 Louis Oosthuizen 3 -5.21
20 Steven Tiley 1 -5.00

[AP Photo/Peter Morrison]