The Best of The Open

With the iconic Open Championship entering its 145th year, we thought we would revisit some of the best moments of the Championship.

Duel in the Sun
image

Legends Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus combined to play in what became known as the Duel in the Sun at the 1977 Open Championship.

At the halfway stage at Turnberry, the pair were one shot off the lead. But as the lesser-spotted Scottish sun chased away the clouds and shone brightly for the final rounds, they showed their class.

The duo raced away from the rest of the field and would be ten shots clear by the event’s conclusion. The lead changed hands throughout the final round and Watson had a one-shot lead heading to the 18th. After Nickalus found the rough off the tee and Watson’s cracking seven iron second came to rest two feet from the pin, many thought it was over.

But a resilient Nicklaus found the front of the green and rolled in a 35 foot birdie putt for a closing 66. That put some pressure on Watson’s putt, but he sank it nonetheless for a memorable win that included incredible back-to-back 65s. The pair shot the same score in every round except for Sunday, with Watson’s 65 the difference.

Lucky Lawrie benefits from meltdown

image

Any Open history piece would not be complete without mentioning the Jean van de Velde’s now iconic meltdown at the 1999 event.

With a three-shot lead going into the final hole at Carnoustie, Van de Velde looked sure to be the first Frenchman in nearly 100 years to win the Open.

But it wasn’t to be. With a driver off the tee, he nearly landed in a burn. Then instead of laying up, he decided to go for the green with his second. After a ricochet off a stone wall, the ball found knee-deep rough. The Frenchman slashed at the ball for his third, resulting in the ball landing in the burn.

With his shoes off and his trousers rolled up, Van de Velde spent some time in the burn contemplating the merits of having a go from inside the water hazard. Thankfully sanity of some nature prevailed and he took a drop outside the water hazard – from where he found the greenside bunker with his fifth.

The up-and-down which followed meant he carded triple bogey-seven, and he was now in a three way tie for the lead.

Paul Lawrie defeated Justin Leonard and a bewildered Van de Velde comfortably in the four-hole playoff to earn his maiden major title.

Sneaky Ernie bags fourth title
image

Ernie Els claimed his fourth major title following a sizzling 68 in the final round at Lytham St Annes in 2012.

The South African was bogey-free on the back nine of his final round and rolled in four birdies to leave him on seven under for the clubhouse lead of the Championship.

However, the Big Easy has Adam Scott to thank for the title. The Australian was four shots ahead with four to play, but conspired to bogey the final holes and finish one behind Els.

Scott had an eight footer on the final green to force a playoff, but pushed his putt to the left, cuing celebration in the Els camp.

Fantastic Phil pulls off stunning double

image

In 2013, Phil Mickelson became the first golfer ever to win the Scottish Open and The Open Championship in the same year.

The American warmed up for the Open by edging Branden Grace in playoff to in the Scottish Open. The victory was Mickelson’s first in three years and it meant a lot to him…

“I’ve never felt more excited going into The Open,” quipped the left-hander at the time.

His excitement proved to be valid, as Mickelson played arguably the best round of his career on Sunday at Muirfield. Starting the final day five strokes behind leader Lee Westwood, Mickelson would fire a scintillating five under 66 to leave him on three under for the Championship.

The chasing pack could not catch up and Mickelson sealed his fifth major win and his first Open title.

Resolute Rory goes wire-to-wire
image

There are few better sights than Rory McIlroy at the top of his game, which is what we saw at the 2014 Open Championship.

At the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, the Northern Irishman became just the sixth player to win the event after being the sole leader after each round.

McIlroy was a cut above the rest from the opening round, as he carded back-to-back 66s to take a four-shot lead over Dustin Johnson at the halfway stage.

That increased to six shots after a third-round 68, which included an eagle at the par five 16th.

Despite challenges from Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia in the final round, McIlroy would hang on for victory, finishing within two strokes of the Open scoring record to par at 17 under.

Following his final putt, the first onto the green to congratulate Rory was his mother, much to the crowd’s delight.

Being the first Open title for McIlroy, he also became the first European to win three different majors.

Doug Mattushek

Comments