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Numbers game: British Open stats you need to know

By Gary Morley, CNN
  • Rory McIlroy seeking to become the youngest British Open winner since 1893
  • The 140th staging of golf's oldest tournament comes to a climax on Sunday
  • Winner will take home $1.145 million, the biggest prize in the major event's history
  • Tom Lewis, 20, is trying to become just the fourth amateur player to win British Open

(CNN) -- Golf is all about numbers, and the British Open has a depth of statistical heritage befitting its rich heritage.

The sport's oldest tournament is being held for the 140th time at Royal St. George's in England, where 156 players lined up to begin their bid to lift the coveted Claret Jug on Sunday.

It's a showpiece for the game's biggest stars, but world ranking numbers can often mean less than wind-speed figures and other meteorological data as players routinely battle fierce coastal weather.

The traditionally unforgiving links courses mean the stats can soon stack up. Just ask Rory McIlroy, who carded a record-breaking 63 in the opening round last year only to collapse with a title-thwarting 80 the following day before recovering to tie for third.

Ugly and unforgiving: Why Britain offers golf's toughest test

With that in mind, CNN takes a look at some of the numbers that matter this weekend.

Analysis from the British Open
2011 British Open preview
Succeeding at Royal St George's

0 -- The number of mobile phones that spectators can bring to the links course. Step ladders, cameras and pets have also been banned. It's also how many competitive rounds pre-tournament favorite McIlroy had played since winning the U.S. Open last month.

1 -- When five-time champion Tom Watson holed in one at the par-three 16th on Friday, it was the first time the 61-year-old had aced in 115 rounds at the British Open. But he was not the first to do so at this year's tournament -- in Thursday's opening round, fellow American Dustin Johnson became the sixth player this decade to hole in one at the event.

3 -- Tom Lewis, 20, is this weekend seeking to become just the fourth amateur player to win the British Open. The great Bobby Jones was the last to do so in 1930, when the American captured his third crown. That year he won all four of golf's four major events: at the time a split of two amateur, two professional.

6 -- South African legend Gary Player is the sixth and last player to lead outright for all four rounds, when he won at Royal Lytham & St. Anne's for his third and final victory in 1974. He is one of just four players to do so in the tournament's current 72-hole format, while two achieved it when it was played over 36 holes pre-1892.

7 -- Unlucky for some, golf legend Jack Nicklaus was runner-up at the British Open a record seven times. The American lifted the Claret Jug on three occasions, and won an unmatched 18 major titles. Harry Vardon claimed a leading six British Open titles, while Watson almost matched him in 2009 at Turnberry but heartbreakingly missed a putt on his final hole and then lost in a playoff.

8 -- The number of strokes Tiger Woods won by at St. Andrews in 2000, his first victory of three and the biggest winning margin since 1913. His 19-under-par total is the best for any major. The American is missing this year due to injury.

9 -- Ben Curtis became the ninth player to lift the Claret Jug on his debut at the British Open, winning at Royal St. George's in 2003. He was the first to do so since compatriot Watson in 1975, while Willie Park Snr. set the precedent at the inaugural event at Prestwick in 1860. At the other end of the patience scale, Zimbabwe's former world No. 1 Nick Price had to try 15 times before his first and only triumph in 1994.

14 -- Royal St. George's first hosted the British Open in 1894, and this year is its 14th honor. Scotland's St. Andrews, the home of golf, has staged it on 27 occasions and does so every five years. England will host the tournament in consecutive years for the first time in 2012 as Royal Lytham & St. Anne's takes it on for an 11th occasion.

17 -- Tom Morris Jnr. was the British Open's youngest winner at 17 years five months and three days in 1868. He was only 14 on his debut. McIlroy, who turned 22 in May, is seeking to become the youngest champion since 1893. The oldest winner was Tom Morris Snr. in 1867. A four-time champion like his son, he was 74 when he last appeared in 1896 -- another record.

59 -- Not the holy grail of golf scoring, but the expected high temperature in Fahrenheit for Sunday's final round in Sandwich (a cool 15C for Brits). Heavy rain and winds up to 16 mph are also forecast.

2,300 -- A 25-minute helicopter ride will cost £2,300 ($3,700) for spectators seeking to avoid the traffic logjam around Royal St. George's during the tournament, as advertised on the British Open's official hospitality website. Perhaps an ambitious option if the weather whips up.

7,211 -- The yardage of the links course at Sandwich. The British Open website says the 496-yard par-four 15th hole at Royal St. George's, with its nine treacherous bunkers, is one of the toughest at all its tournament venues. The longest course for a British Open was Carnoustie in 2007, a monstrous 7,421-yard layout nicknamed "Car-nasty."

1,450,000 -- The winner on Sunday will take home £900,000 ($1.45 million) -- the biggest prize in the tournament's history. Greg Norman made $160,000 for his 1993 victory at Royal St. George's, while Tom Morris Snr. was the first champion to be paid, earning £6 in 1864. That's worth about $700 in today's money.

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