A capsule look at the 29 previous British Opens played on the Old Course at St. Andrews:
Tom Kidd won the first Open held on the Old Course with the highest 36-hole score ever, 179, for a one-shot victory over Jamie Anderson. He beat a 26-man field, most of them local, on a soggy St. Andrews. The Fifeshire Journal report said of Kidd, ”As a player, he is likely to improve.” He died 11 years later at age 35.
In one of the most bizarre endings, Bob Martin and David Strath finished at 176. On the 17th, Strath’s third shot hit a player in the group ahead that was putting out, keeping the ball from going on the road. The committee decided there would be a playoff in two days, enough time to review whether Strath should be disqualified for hitting to the hole while players were still on the green. Strath refused to take part in a playoff under such conditions, and Martin was declared the winner.
Jamie Anderson had a 169 for a three-stroke victory over Andrew Kirkaldy and James Allan. He joined Young Tom Morris as the only men to win the Open three straight times.
Bob Ferguson, a caddie by trade, threatened to become the first player to break 80 in an Open at St. Andrews. He had 83, and finished at 181 to defeat Willie Fernie by three strokes. It also was his third straight Open title. He later returned to work as a caddie and greenskeeper.
What the local newspaper called a ”stiff breeze,” the national Daily Mail called ”equinoctial gales.” In such weather, Bob Martin became the first two-time Open winner at St. Andrews with a 171, one stroke better than Archie Simpson.
Jack Burns won the Open by one stroke, but only after an erroneous score had been reported. Burns, Anderson and Ben Sayers each finished at 172, but it was discovered that Burns actually went out in 46 – not 47 – and he was declared the champion. Burns later moved back to St. Andrews to work on the railways. Davie Anderson Jr. became the first player to break 40 on the inward nine.
Hugh Kirkaldy, with a full swing in the style of John Daly, had no worse than a 5 on his scorecard. He went out in 38 and came in with nine straight 5s on his card for another 83. He finished at 166 for a two-stroke victory over brother Andrew Kirkaldy and Willie Fernie.
J.H. Taylor trailed Sandy Herd by three strokes going into the final round, but closed with a 78 – the best score of the day by four strokes – to finish four ahead of Herd at 322.
J.H. Taylor led wire-to-wire to win his third Open at 309, eight strokes ahead of Harry Vardon. Taylor produced the low score in all four rounds, a feat that still has never been repeated in any major championship.
This might sound familiar: To counteract the new Haskell rubber-core ball, tees were lengthened and more pot bunkers were added to the Old Course. Only a dozen scores under 80 were recorded, and James Braid had a 318, the highest Open score in 10 years, to win by five strokes over J.H. Taylor and Rowland Jones.
James Braid won his fifth Open with a 299, topping the previous 72-hole record at St. Andrews by 10 shots and beating Sandy Herd by four. Braid was two shots behind going into the last round, but 54-hole leader George Duncan closed with an 83.
Jock Hutchinson set an Open record with a 70 in the last round to tie amateur Roger Wethered at 296. He beat Wethered by nine strokes (150-159) in a 36-hole playoff for his second straight major.
Bobby Jones became the first amateur to win back-to-back Opens with a wire-to-wire victory for a 285, the lowest score in either a U.S. or British Open. He won by six strokes over Aubrey Boomer and Fred Robson.
Denny Shute, best known for back-to-back victories in the PGA Championship, won his first major with four straight rounds of 73 for a 292. He beat Craig Wood by five shots (149-154) in a 36-hole playoff. Over the next two years, Wood was runner-up in the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championship.
Dick Burton overcame a 77 in the third round to close with a 71 and finish at 290 for a two-stroke victory over Johnny Bulla. Burton set one unfortunate record. He held the claret jug for seven years because World War II canceled the Open until 1946.
Sam Snead was one of the few Americans who journeyed across the Atlantic for the first postwar Open. As the train pulled into St. Andrews and he saw the Old Course for the first time, he wasn’t sure what it was. ”What abandoned course is this?” he said to the man next to him. Snead learned to respect the course, and he closed with a 75 to finish at 290, four shots ahead of Johnny Bulla.
Peter Thomson won his second straight Open. He was the only player at par or better all four rounds and finished at 281 for a two-stroke victory over Johnny Fallon. Byron Nelson, retired for nearly 10 years, finished 33rd at 296.
The finish of the British Open was on live television for the first time, and viewers saw Bobby Locke end Peter Thomson’s run of three straight Open championships. Locke won his fourth claret jug, closing with 68-70 to finish at 279 for a three-shot victory over Thomson.
The modern concept of a Grand Slam started at St. Andrews when Arnold Palmer showed up having won the Masters and the U.S. Open. His hard-charging 68 in the final round came up one stroke short of Kel Nagle, who won at 278. More importantly, Palmer’s presence was the start of more Americans coming to the Open.
”Champagne” Tony Lema won the Open in his first attempt with a stellar performance. He led Jack Nicklaus by seven shots going into the last day, closed with a 70 and at 279 finished five shots ahead of Nicklaus. Two years later, Lema was killed in a plane crash.
Jack Nicklaus needed some help to win his first Open at the home of golf. Doug Sanders had a chance to win in regulation, but missed a 3-foot par putt on the 18th hole to force an 18-hole playoff. Nicklaus drove through the 18th green in the playoff, chipped up to 8 feet and made birdie to win by one shot.
Jack Nicklaus won his third and last Open, and became the first player since J.H. Taylor in 1900 to win consecutive Opens at St. Andrews. He closed with a 69 to finish at 281, two strokes ahead of Ben Crenshaw, Ray Floyd, Tom Kite and Simon Owen.
Seve Ballesteros denied Tom Watson a record-tying sixth Open title with a par on the 17th and a birdie on the 18th for a 69. Watson was tied with Ballesteros until hitting over the 17th to within two feet of the wall on the Road Hole, dropping a costly shot. Ballesteros finished at 276, two shots ahead of Watson and Bernhard Langer. Watson won the claret jug on five links courses, but never at St. Andrews.
Nick Faldo set a record for the lowest score to par in a major at 18-under 270, which later was matched and then topped by Tiger Woods. He finished five strokes ahead of Mark McNulty and Payne Stewart, but the Open was won on Saturday. Tied with Greg Norman, Faldo had a 67 to Norman’s 76, a thrashing that would repeat itself six years later in the final round of the Masters.
John Daly overpowered the Old Course for his second major championship, again at a time when no one expected it. He closed with a 71 for 6-under 282 and appeared to have the Open wrapped up when Costantino Rocca, needing birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff, duffed a chip. Rocca then rolled in a 60-foot putt across the Valley of Sin, but Daly won the four-hole playoff by four shots.
Tiger Woods made history at the Old Course by becoming the youngest player, at age 24, to complete the career Grand Slam. He built a six-shot lead going into the final round, was challenged briefly by David Duval, and closed with a 69 to win by eight shots over Thomas Bjorn and Ernie Els. His 19-under 269 beat Faldo’s record for lowest score in relation to par at a major. Perhaps the most astounding feat was that Woods never hit into a bunker over 72 holes.
Tiger Woods became the fifth player to win the Open twice at St. Andrews. He took the lead with a birdie on the ninth hole of the opening round and never gave it back over the final 63 holes. Colin Montgomerie shot 70 to Woods’ 71 in the last group on Saturday, raising Scottish hopes, but Woods closed with a 2-under 70 for a five-shot victory over Montgomerie. Jack Nicklaus birdied his final hole Friday but still missed the cut in his 164th and final major championship.
Louis Oosthuizen barely beat the wind in his second-round of 67 that gave him a five-shot lead. Rory McIlroy, who opened with a 63, was caught in the gale and shot 80 in the second round. Oosthuizen led over the final 48 holes, made only two bogeys on a windswept weekend, and closed with a 71 for a seven-shot victory over Lee Westwood. Tiger Woods, in his bid to win a third straight Open at St. Andrews, tied for 23rd.
In the first Monday finish since 1988 because of a brief rain delay Friday and a 10-hour wind delay Saturday, Zach Johnson won a three-man playoff that gave him a silver claret jug to go with a green jacket he won at the 2007 Masters. Johnson defeated Marc Leishman and Louis Oosthuizen in the four-hole playoff. Jordan Spieth bogeyed the 17th hole and missed the playoff by one shot, ending his bid for a calendar Grand Slam.
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