GULLANE, Scotland – Facts and figures for the British Open golf championship:
Event: 142nd British Open
Dates: July 18-21
Length: 7,192 yards
Field: 156 (149 professionals, 7 amateurs).
Prize money: 5.25 million pounds (about $7.82 million).
Winner's share: 954,000 pounds (about $1.4 million).
Defending champion: Ernie Els.
Last year: Els overcame a six-shot deficit in the final round with a 2-under 68, though he needed a lot of help — and Adam Scott provided it in the final hour at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Scott was four shots ahead with four holes to play. Els made a 15-foot birdie putt on the last hole. Scott closed with four straight bogeys, driving into a fairway bunker on the 18th and missing a 7-foot par putt that would have forced a playoff. Els finished at 7-under 273 and joined some exclusive company by becoming the sixth player to win both the British Open and U.S. Open multiple times. The others were Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Tiger Woods.
Last time at Muirfield: Ernie Els won his first British Open, recovering from a double bogey on the 16th hole to join a four-man playoff with Thomas Levet, Stuart Appleby and Steve Elkington. Appleby and Elkington were eliminated after the four-hole playoff, and Els beat Levet in the first sudden-death situation in the British Open with a par on the 18th hole. Tiger Woods' bid for the Grand Slam ended Saturday when he shot 81 during a two-hour wind and rain storm.
Open champions at Muirfield: Harold Hilton (1892), Harry Vardon (1896), James Braid (1901, 1906), Ted Ray (1912), Walter Hagen (1929), Alfred Perry (1935), Henry Cotton (1948), Gary Player (1959), Jack Nicklaus (1966), Lee Trevino (1972), Tom Watson (1980), Nick Faldo (1987, 1992), Ernie Els (2002).
The course: Muirfield is considered by many to be the purest and fairest of all the links in the Open rotation. The outward nine runs in a clockwise direction on the perimeter of the property, while the inward nine goes mainly in a counter-clockwise rotation in the middle. Players are most likely to face the wind in every direction during the round. Muirfield is home of "The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers," which in 1744 established 13 "Rules of Golf." The company moved in 1891 to Muirfield, which was designed by Old Tom Morris and revised in 1922 by Harry Colt.
Tiger Tales: Tiger Woods now has gone five full years since he last won a major championship. He has not competed since he finished 12 shots behind at the U.S. Open.
Key statistic: Every winner of the British Open at Muirfield after World War II is in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Noteworthy: The British Open is the only major that has not had a winner from the top 10 in the world ranking over the last five years.
Quoteworthy: "For some reason, great players play great there." — Lee Trevino on Muirfield.
Television (all times EDT): Thursday and Friday, 5 a.m. to 3 p.m., ESPN. Saturday, 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., ESPN. Sunday, 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., ESPN.