GOLFERS come in all shapes, sizes and ages so it might cause some surprise to learn that the profile of those who end up lifting the Claret Jug tend to share some familiar traits. Indeed, cast a cursory eye down the list of winners over the past 10 years and those commonalities are not immediately obvious.

Darren Clarke was ranked No.111 in the world when finally emerging from the miasma of decades-old cigar plumes to win at Sandwich in 2011 at the age of 42. Alas, grey hairs, frown lines and a ranking in the hundreds are not foolproof measures for discerning whether a particular player is going to be hanging around as dusk settles on the 18th at St Andrews this Sunday. Yes, six of the last 10 winners have been over the age of 35 but there are three winners who have come from the 25 and under age bracket.

Take Collin Morikawa, last year's winner, he was aged 24 and sat at No.4 in the world. So, while veteran status is a trait that has merit in sorting the good wheat from the bad it does not hold quite the same weight as form – either over the season to date or at The Open itself. There are, of course, some other compelling factors to consider but the one that matters most is form – and the myriad ways in which it can be interpreted.

Won a Major previously

It stands to reason that any contenders for the shortlist will have gone the distance before and demonstrated they have the mettle to overcome final day nerves should they find themselves in with a shout as they reach the turn. Six of the last 10 Open winners have won a Major while the other four recorded a runners-up finish. That's good news for Rory McIlroy, defending champion Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm but not so hot for Patrick Cantlay, Tyrell Hatton and Sam Burns who are also near the head of the market.

Recent form in a Major

Previous Open winners don't necessarily have to have won a Major. That said, they have usually signposted their victory with a good showing at a recent Major. It's worth taking a look back through the field at the Masters and the US Open before making a final decision. If they have managed a top 20 in either, it's a good sign since eight of the last 10 had posted such a finish in one of their previous two Majors. It's a particular positive for McIlroy, Zalatoris, Matt Fitzpatrick and Hideki Matsuyama who recorded top 20s in both majors this year.

Previous Open form

Having a top-10 finish in a previous Open is, hardly surprisingly, a strong trend. Nine of the last 10 winners had this box ticked, albeit Morikawa obliterated that trend last year. Nevertheless the American, while something of an outlier in winning at Royal St George's, still possessed plenty of other trends going in his favour. But, ultimately the general rule of thumb has it that across the past 10 winners, each had appeared in 10 Open Championships on average prior to winning.

No.1 status

The temptation would be to conclude that with all this talk about the importance of form that the player holding the world No.1 spot – Scottie Scheffler – would be a sound selection but history shows that it's not a trend that is favourable. No world No.1 since 2000 - apart from Tiger Woods in 2005 and 2006 – has won The Open. That said, having recorded a win earlier in the season – just as Scheffler has managed on four occasions so far in 2022 – is a stat shared by eight of the last 10 winners.


The above represents the pick of some of the most compelling trends and Scheffler, the runaway Masters champion, meets many of the aforementioned but there is one significant trend that is a cause for concern: scrambling is a key attribute for past Open winners but Scheffler lies 101st on the PGA Tour statistics for the season to date. It's not just scrambling that we've looked at, however. A successful bet at The Open (this column tipped Jordan Spieth each-way last year for a small profit) incorporates other factors such as Augusta form – a course that has certain similarities to the Old Course – and those playing the week before the tournament either at the John Deere or the Scottish Open.

That leaves a long list that includes Spieth again but also last year's Masters winner Sungjae Im, Xander Schauffele, who is in blistering form following his win at North Berwick, Jon Rahm, last year's pre-tournament favourite, and Rory McIlroy – seemingly incapable of putting it all together for four rounds at a Major these days – who will also make it on to plenty of betting slips.

Preference had been for Schauffele prior to his win at the Scottish Open but his value has gone in recent days as a result of that victory so our five against the field are Hideki Matsuyama (45/1, ew), Sungjae Im (80/1, ew), Cameron Smith (28/1, ew), Jordan Spieth (18/1, ew) and Justin Rose (66/1).