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Three of The Open’s Most Iconic Moments… to Date!

Posted on July 08, 2019 by Claire Philbin

If you’re an avid fan and bet on golf, you’ll know that Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy are currently joint-favorites to lift the Claret Jug, as the Open Championship is contested later this month, at Royal Portrush. The Open is the oldest of the four golfing majors, having been inaugurated in 1860 and this year marks the 147th edition of the prestigious tournament. With such a rich history, there are undoubtedly hundreds of memorable and iconic moments from over the years. Here, we’ve listed some of our favourites, but do let us know in the comments if there’s anything we’ve missed!

1977: The Duel in the Sun

Golf fans of a certain generation will remember this one as Americans Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus battled it out in the Scottish sun at Turnberry. After the second round, both men had scored 138 (68 + 70) and found themselves T2.

Of course, they were paired together for round three and once again matched each other’s score of 65, to end the round three-under-par and edge away from the chasing pack. The pair played together again on the final day, as they duelled for the coveted Claret Jug. Watson famously said to Nicklaus: “This is what it’s all about, isn’t it?”, with the ‘Golden Bear’ responding: “You bet it is.”

Watson edged ahead by the 17th hole, but it was still a close-affair. On the final tee, Nicklaus went straight into the rough and despite a decent recovery, Watson only had to putt two feet to record a final round score of 65 (268 overall and 12-under-par). Nicklaus finished on 66 for the round, scoring 269. While both golfers finished well ahead of the rest of the pack, it’s a memorable battle of nerves and one that saw Watson win his second Open Championship.

2007: Luck of the Irish

You have to feel for Sergio Garcia, one of the best golfers of his generation and one that has spent the majority of his career in the top 10. Up until 2017 when he won the Masters, it looked as though he would never win a golfing major.

But a decade previous, he had the opportunity to break that curse. At Carnoustie, Garcia was top of the leaderboard after the first three rounds and was coasting with a six-shot advantage over opponent Padraig Harrington ahead of the final day’s play.

Despite hitting the water, Harrington managed to claw his way back into contention, even though he double-bogeyed. the final hole. This left Garcia only needing a par to win, but dropped a shot and forced a four-shot play-off. Harrington went on to become the first Irishman in 60 years to win the Open Championship, after finishing one shot ahead of Garcia.

2016: Henrik Stenson, record-breaker

In 2016 at Royal Troon, Henrik Stenson broke record after record, as not only did he become the first Scandinavian man to win a major title, but he did it in some style too.

Let’s be honest, his feat was nothing short of remarkable, as he scored four sub-70 rounds (68 + 65 + 68 + 63) to finish on an incredible 264, a new major championship record. But he was also the first player to finish 20-under-par at the Open, beating 19-under, the record held by Tiger Woods. His final round score of 63 also tied the major record for a round, but he became the second ever player to shoot 63 in a final round of a major and go on to win.

Stenson may have finished three strokes ahead of Phil Mickelson in second-place, but it was a further 11 shots to JB Holmes in third. It’s still his only major win to date, but there’s no doubt that it remains a memorable one.

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