The British Open is undoubtedly one of the oldest golf majors since it was held for the first time way back in 1860. The tournament has been a home of many unforgettable moments in the history of golf. Let’s take a look back at these memorable moments and relive the excitement and sportsmanship that this golf brings.
1972 British Open
You may know Lee Trevino from his appearances in a movie Happy Gilmore, but what you may not know is that Trevino is one of the greatest and most popular golfers of all time.
1972 British Open serves as one of the crowning moments for Trevino. It was on this tournament that he became the first player to successfully defend the title since Arnold Palmer in 1962. Trevino was playing against the great Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus fired a 66 in the final round and thought it might be enough until Trevino held on with a chip-in on the 17th and a par on the 18th to win by one shot.
1977 British Open
1977 British Open has been dubbed as “The Duel in the Sun” with two of the greatest golfers in history contending – Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.
Watson and Nicklaus went into the third round tied for second and have been playing nothing but outstanding golf over the next two days.
For their third round, both players shot a 65 and Watson recorded a one-stroke lead over his great rival when he picked up seven birdies in the final round.
Herbert Warren Wind, an acclaimed sports writer, said, “all that will probably be remember is the fantastic duel between Nicklaus and Watson, who were paired on both the third and the fourth day and threw some altogether stupendous golf at each other — neither of them ever taking a backward step — right down to the seventy-second green.”
1986 British Open
Following his meltdown during the final round of the 1986 US Open, Greg Norman went into the 1986 British Open with a lot of pressure under his belt.
Haunted by his demons from the US Open, Norman had a narrow lead going into the final round but he displayed plenty of composure to shoot 68 in the final round. He won his first major championship at even-par, five strokes ahead of runner-up Gordon J. Brand.
Unfortunately, Norman’s latter career was not very successful, finishing with just two major titles on his portfolio.
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1995 British Open
An oral history of the most improbable British Open showdown ever happened on the 1995 British Open when John Daly played against Costantino Rocca.
Neither of the two looked like an athlete and both of them were considered outsiders, struggling to be taken seriously as professional golfers. Yet these two gave sports fans an unforgettable duel that still remains vivid 20 years later.
Daly completed his round and was a shot clear of Rocca. He was confident that he would win the title when Rocca left himself an extremely long birdie putt from the area of the green known as the Valley Of Sin.
Rocca somehow managed to nail this 65-foot uphill putt but Daly regained his composure and was able to win a playoff as his second major.
1999 British Open
One of the most heartbreaking moments and probably the most frustrating in the history of golf happened when Jean van de Velde had his meltdown at the 1999 British Open.
With the need to make only a 6 on the par-4 18th hole at Carnoustie Golf Links, Van de Velde wasted the championship in an excruciating fashion, clanging one shot off the bleachers, dumping another into the water, chunking yet one more into a bunker before finally making a triple-bogey 7. This put him in a three-man playoff with Paul Lawrie and Justin Leonard.
Wanting to become the first Frenchman to win the tournament since 1907, Van de Velde showed a flawless performance for the past three days.
He made just a single double-bogey during the tournament and had birdied the 18th in each of the past two rounds. He thought about hitting out of Barry Burn and when he got to his ball, he hit it with a 2-iron with the purpose of wanting to go for the green.
The shot was not even close though. It hit the grandstand that runs along the right side of the green, came back, bounced off the top of the rocks on Barry Burn and landed in the tall grass short of the burn. The ball ended up in the creek, Van de Velde took off his shoes, ready to play his ball from the water. When he noticed that it was not sitting up, he reconsidered and took a drop. He went underneath the ball and finished in the trap, which caused fans who were watching in the stands to be enraged.
2006 British Open
Though not as dominant, Tiger Wood’s winning at the 2006 British Open is by far the most emotional. 2006 British Open was Wood’s first major tournament since his father, Earl Wood, passed away in May of that year.
With the cheering crowds ringing in his ears, Woods broke down in tears on the shoulders of caddie Steve Williams and wife Elin at the 18th green. Woods recalled this moment saying, “It was a very emotional week. I was going through a pretty tough time in my life and people were very supportive. They were fantastic,”
Despite the pain of losing his father, Woods felt a surreal calmness. “On Sunday I felt really calm out there. It was surreal. I’ve had a few moments in Majors where I have felt that way on a Sunday and that was certainly one of them. I really felt my dad was with me on that one round. It was like having a 15th club. I felt that type of peace when I was out there.” he added.
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