It is fair to say that The Open has had probably the most iconic moments in golf history over the years. As we approach the end of the 150th anniversary tournament, we’ve listed the top ten most memorable moments in Open history.
10. Seve Ballesteros’ putt on 18 at St Andrews in 1984
Seve Ballesteros claimed that the eventful conclusion to the 1984 Open included the happiest single shot of his life. Ballesteros was on the 18th green and had a 12-foot putt; a deciding moment in that year’s tournament. At the first stroke the putt looked to be a sure winner, but the golf ball gradually began to slow down and teetered on the edge of the cup. With all the crowd virtually on the edge of their seats, the ball finally dropped in seconds later and consequently saw Ballesteros pump his fist in sheer excitement as he had become The Open champion for the second time in his career.
9. Nick Faldo's par final round at Muirfield in 1987
Paul Azinger from the United States looked to have been the favourite to take home the Claret Jug at Muirfield in 1987 but with only the final two holes to play, Azinger disastrously found the fairway bunker off the tee and subsequently bogeyed the par- 5 17th. Up until this point, Sir Nick Faldo had 16 straight pars under his belt but despite being in the group in front, he needed a birdie to match Azinger, assuming he would par the last. As is the unpredictability of our great sport, Azinger another bogey on the last hole, while Faldo finished registering 18 solid pars on the final day and claimed his first major by just a single stroke.
8. Padraig Harrington's final round at Carnoustie in 1999
Padraig Harrington learnt about the notorious Carnoustie course the hard way. Harrington let a one-shot lead agonisingly slip through his fingers on the final round as he found the Barry Burn not once, but twice. The Irish golfer eventually finished the hole on a double-bogey after holing a clutch putt. A par or better was enough to see his competition Sergio Garcia crowned champion, but Garcia also made a bogey after finding the greenside bunker. Harrington’s fifth visit to the 18th hole was during the pair’s four extra hole playoff. Luckily, he had earned himself a two-shot lead and chose to play safe and lay up from the tee; a wise decision. Once bitten twice shy, Harrington took a hybrid off the tee, playing the hole safely and as a result claimed victory of the iconic Claret Jug.
7. Cink vs Watson, four-hole playoff at Turnberry in 2009
Tom Watson would have been the oldest major champion in history at the age of 59 if he managed to par the final hole at the 2009 Open Championship. Unfortunately, the American bogeyed the hole and was sent straight into a four-hole play-off with Stewart Cink, resulting in Cink scoring a further two under par across the four holes, while Watson’s hopes of a sixth Open Championship were quashed when he played the additional four holes in plus four.
6. Stenson vs Mickelson, final round at Royal Troon, 2016
Arguably one of the greatest final showdowns in golf history, Henrik Stenson shot a final round of 63 for a record 20-under par to beat Phil Mickleson by three shots, giving Stenson the honour of being the first Scandinavian to win a major title.
5. Jean Van de Velde's collapse at Carnoustie in 1999
Jean Van de Velde’s collapse at Carnoustie on its signature 18th hole is arguably one of the biggest meltdowns in golf history. A six was good enough for Van de Velde to be crowned champion and like many others, he chose to take the aggressive route on his first drive from the tee. Van de Velde chose to go for the green, but a mis-shot veered wide right, leading him to have to then play his third from the stand. The deep rough got the better of him and he could do no better than find the iconic, then water-filled, Barry Burn. Fans couldn’t believe what they were seeing as Van de Velde seriously debated playing it from the water, so much so he took his shoes and socks off and got in with his club! To fans’ relief, however, Van de Velde decided against it and took a penalty drop. Once he dried his feet off, the rough got the better of him again as his fifth plummeted into the bunker. Van de Velde put the ball to six-foot and despite the tough conditions he managed to hole it for a seven and force a playoff, which he would shortly lose to Paul Lawrie over the duration of four holes.
4. John Daly vs Constantino Rocca at St Andrews in 1995
27 years ago, John Daly was crowned champion at the home of golf in the 1995 Open Championship, defeating Costantino Rocca in a four-hole playoff by four shots. Daly emerged as a favourite with a par birdie start in the first two holes of the play-off. Rocca, who was already two shots behind, took three in the greenside trap of the road hole 17 to mark a suffering seven on his scorecard. Daly who went down in par, had a five-shot lead going down the last playoff hole as he put the ball down in four to win him his first Open Championship and second major title.
3. Mickelson's final round at Muirfield in 2013
Phil Mickelson finally conquered golf’s original major in tough, windy conditions at Muirfield in 2013. Having won the Scottish Open the week before at Castle Stuart, the left-handed magician continued his hot form with an immense final round in his 20th Open Championship, finishing with a magnificent 66 and three-shot lead to take home the Claret Jug
2. Tiger Woods wins at Royal Liverpool in 2006
Royal Liverpool was thankful for the glorious sunshine and heatwave conditions back in 2006 when they hosted the Open Championship for the first time in 39 years. The world’s best Tiger Woods led the competition since Friday morning but never ran away with the lead. Chris DiMarco pushed Woods to his limit in the final round, but golfing legend responded superbly to the challenge by hitting a birdy on 14, 15 and 16 to shake off DiMarco. Woods was emotional as he putt the 18th to take the title becoming the first person to successfully defend his championship since Tom Watson in 1983. Woods’ closing 67 gave him a two-stroke victory over Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia.
1. Nicklaus vs Watson "Duel in the Sun", Turnberry 1977
And finally, our most memorable Open Championship moment in its 150 years. The Duel in the Sun is the story of the two of the sport’s greats under the scorching sun at Turnberry in 1977. A fantastic final round saw both Jack Nicklaus and Jack Watson compete shot for shot, for the win. The game looked to have been almost up when Nicklaus missed a five-footer for birdie on the 16th hole and Watson made one of his own. One final moment of drama followed on the 18th as Watson looked certain to take home the Claret Jug after putting his second to a couple of feet of the pin. Despite Nicklaus finding the heavy rough, he manoeuvred the ball onto the putting surface albeit, quite a distance from the hole. The unexpected happened as Nicklaus holed his putt from range to register one of the best up-and-downs in Open history and putting all the pressure on Watson. Despite the pressure, the putt was close and Watson stroked the ball home. Nail-biting scenes right until the end, but it was Watson who signed his card at 12 under par for an Open record and claimed the iconic Claret Jug.