Key anniversaries at the British Open

A look at some of the key anniversaries this year in British Open history:

1862 (150 years ago)

Winner: Old Tom Morris

Course: Prestwick

Score: 163

Runner-up: Willie Park Sr.

Margin of victory: 13 shots

Winner’s share: No prize money awarded

Recap: The first 12 British Opens were played at Prestwick, a 12-hole course that worked its way through sand dunes and featured blind tee shots. Old Tom Morris became the first repeat champion _ OK, so this was only the third Open _ with a performance so dominant that his record still stands 150 years later. Against an eight-man field, he opened with a course-record 52 to build a seven-shot lead over Willie Park Sr., the winner of the inaugural Open. Morris had a 55 in the second round to stretch his lead to 11 shots, and closed with a 56 for a 13-shot win. Morris had the low score each round. The closest anyone came to his margin of victory in the Open was his son, Young Tom Morris, who won by 12 shots eight years later. This was the last year no prize money was awarded. In addition to a championship belt, medals were given for the first time.

___

1912 (100 years ago)

Winner: Ted Ray

Course: Muirfield

Score: 295

Runner-up: Harry Vardon

Margin of victory: 4 shots

Winner’s share: 50 pounds

Recap: Ted Ray was a distant fourth behind the Great Triumvirate of Harry Vardon, James Braid and J.H. Taylor. The Open was held at Muirfield for the fifth time, with Braid (twice) and Vardon winning the last three at the Midlothian links. Ray captured the first of his two majors with a wire-to-wire victory, opening with rounds of 71-73 to build a three-shot lead over Vardon. He stretched his lead to five shots over Braid after 54 holes, and then withstood a closing 71 by Vardon to win by four shots. A year later, Ray again had the 36-hole lead, only to get run over by Taylor and finish eight shots behind. Ray’s only other major came in 1920 at the U.S. Open.

___

1937 (75 years ago)

Winner: Henry Cotton

Course: Carnoustie

Score: 290

Runner-up: Reg Whitcombe

Margin of victory: 2 shots

Winner’s share: 100 pounds

Recap: Byron Nelson made his lone trip to golf’s oldest championship, and the reigning Masters champion fell nine shots behind Reg Whitcombe after 36 holes at Carnoustie. The real threat turned out to be Cotton, who in 1934 shattered an Open record with a 65 in the second round _ a record that stood for 43 years. Cotton’s score improved by one shot each day, and a 72 in the third round put him three shots behind Whitcombe. Cotton closed with a 71 as Whitcombe stumbled to a 76, giving Cotton a two-shot win and his second claret jug. Nelson finished six shots behind in fifth place. The Open was all that kept the gentle Texan from the career Grand Slam.

___

1962 (50 years ago)

Winner: Arnold Palmer

Course: Royal Troon

Score: 276

Runner-up: Kel Nagle

Margin of victory: 6 shots

Winner’s share: 1,400 pounds

Recap: If the torch had been passed to Jack Nicklaus a month earlier at Oakmont in the U.S. Open, Arnold Palmer wasn’t cooperating. Palmer, who won his first Open title a year earlier at Royal Birkdale, grabbed the 36-hole lead at 140 and had a 67 in the third round to stretch his lead to four shots over Nagle. Palmer closed with a 69 for a record 276 and a six-shot victory. Fittingly, it was Nagle who had held off Palmer at St. Andrews in 1960, when Palmer was going for his third straight professional major and effectively created the modern version of the Grand Slam. As for Nicklaus? His first visit to Troon resulted in rounds of 80 and 79. He tied for 34th, 29 shots behind.

___

1987 (25 years ago)

Winner: Nick Faldo

Course: Muirfield

Score: 279

Runner-up: Paul Azinger, Rodger Davis

Margin of victory: 1 shot

Winner’s share: 75,000 pounds

Recap: Nick Faldo, seen as England’s next great player after Tony Jacklin, finally emerged on a world stage and after three years of technical training under David Leadbetter. Faldo won the first of his six majors in memorable fashion. He trailed Paul Azinger by one shot going into the final round at Muirfield and won despite not making a single birdie. Faldo was famous this day for closing with 18 pars and a round of 71, enough to hold off challenges from a group that included Azinger, Payne Stewart and Tom Watson.

___

1992 (20 years ago)

Winner: Nick Faldo

Course: Muirfield

Score: 272

Runner-up: John Cook

Margin of victory: 1 shot

Winner’s share: 95,000

Recap: As steady as Nick Faldo was in 1987 at Muirfield, he was anything but that five years later. Staked to a four-shot lead going into the final round, Faldo came undone on the back nine with bogeys on the 11th, 13th and 14th holes. John Cook made a charge and suddenly was leading by two shots. Cook, playing ahead of Faldo, had a 30-foot eagle putt on the 17th that would have given him a four-shot lead. He narrowly missed, than missed the next one from inside 3 feet and had to settle for par. Faldo made birdie on the 15th, saved par on the 16th and picked up another birdie on the 17th. Cook, meanwhile, compounded his error with a bogey on the 18th. Faldo needed only a par on the last to win his third claret jug. He hit his approach to 20 feet, and rapped it softly to within a foot of the cup for a tap-in par and a closing 73 to win by one shot.

___

2002 (10 years ago)

Winner: Ernie Els

Course: Muirfield

Score: 278

Runner-up: Thomas Levet, Stuart Appleby, Steve Elkington

Margin of victory: Playoff

Winner’s share: 700,000 pounds

Recap: The week began with talk about Tiger Woods going for the Grand Slam, and ended with Ernie Els winning his first British Open with nerves so jangled he felt as if he had played four majors in one day. Woods’ hopes for a third successive major ended with an 81 in a rain-filled, wind-blown third round. Els survived with a 72 to take a two-shot lead into the final round. He squandered a three-shot lead on the back nine, and with a double bogey from the fairway on the 16th, suddenly found himself one shot down with two to play. He birdied the 17th and made par on the last for a 70 to join a four-way playoff, the largest in Open history. Stuart Appleby and Steve Elkington bogeyed the last hole of the four-hole playoff (No. 18) to drop out, leading to the first sudden-death playoff in the Open. Thomas Levet took bogey on the 18th hole, and Els saved par from a greenside bunker with a 5-foot putt for his third major.

___

2007 (5 years ago)

Winner: Padraig Harrington

Course: Carnoustie

Score: 277

Runner-up: Sergio Garcia

Margin of victory: Playoff

Winner’s share: 750,000 pounds

Recap: Sergio Garcia blew a three-shot lead in the final round, only for Padraig Harrington to seemingly throw away the tournament. Leading by one shot, Harrington twice hit into Barry Burn on the 18th hole. Garcia was playing the 17th when he crossed a bridge with Harrington, who had driven into the burn. The Spaniard never imagined they would meet again in a playoff. Harrington scrambled for a double bogey to fall one shot behind, and then Garcia’s par putt to win his first major hit the lip of the cup to force a playoff. Harrington birdied the first hole while Garcia made bogey, and the Spaniard never caught up. Garcia’s tee shot on the 16th hit the pin and rolled some 35 feet away. On the fourth and final hole _ the 18th _ Harrington had to make a 3-foot bogey putt to win his first major.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Get Adobe Flash player