The greatest moments in British Open history
Royal St. George’s is where golfing fans will set up camp this week for the 149th renewal of the British Open. Golf’s original major is back, and although in 1860 they were playing for a red belt made of Moroccan leather worth $20, now they are competing for the Claret Jug and $2 million.
As we get set for another thrilling renewal, here’s a countdown of five of the greatest moments in the Open’s history.
The Open Championship 2021
Sun, July 18 2021, 1:00 PM
5. The Price is Right (1994)
Nick Price had finished runner-up twice in The Open before finally getting his hands on the Claret Jug in 1994. In a thrilling battle with Swedish golfer Jesper Parnevik, Price stole the show with an incredible 50-foot eagle putt on the 17th.
That meant a par at the last was all Price needed to win by a single stroke. "It’s like a fairytale to finish like that to win a major championship," Price told the media. "I nearly jumped out of my skin when it went in. My heart was pounding."
Price carded four rounds in the 60s on his way to winning, and the purple patch wouldn’t stop there as a month later he won the PGA Championship as well.
4. Tiger Roars Towards History (2000)
St. Andrews is considered the home of golf, so it was only fitting that this is where Tiger completed the career Grand Slam at the age of just 24. It’s hard to pick a single moment out of what was essentially four perfect days of golf.
Known for its hidden sand traps, Woods didn’t hit a single bunker at St. Andrews all week and made just three bogeys in total. He became just the third champion to card four rounds in the 60s to confirm his absolute dominance of the sport. His score of 19-under-par was a record for all major championships, and his eight-stroke victory was the biggest Open Championship win for 130 years.
This was also the start of the Tiger Slam, when Woods held all four major titles at the same time. And for pub quiz fans out there – this was the first Open Championship to be broadcast in high definition in any country, as ABC Sports covered it in the U.S., meaning we got to watch Tiger’s brilliance in glorious HD.
3. Stenson’s Magic 63 (2016)
In 2016 at Royal Troon, Henrik Stenson broke his major drought in the most incredible way possible. In a thrilling battle with Phil Mickelson, the pair traded blows all weekend and scorched away from the rest of the field before Stenson won by three strokes. Both players were level on 16-under-par coming to the 14th, but the Swede birdied four of the last five holes to finish in style with a record-breaking score of 20-under-par and a round of 63.
Stenson’s score of 264 set a new major championship record, and he became just the second player ever to shoot 63 in the final round of a major and win. To underline how dominant Mickelson and Stenson where, JB Holmes finished third and was still 11 shots behind Lefty – the biggest gap between the top two and the rest of the field in major history.
It was a record-breaking week that ended with an incredible 10 birdies in Stenson’s final round, including the moment of the weekend - a 51-foot putt from off the green to birdie the 15th.
2. Phil the Thrill’s Best Round Ever (2013)
When you’re as good as Phil Mickelson it’s arguably tough to pick the best round of his career, but the great man himself credits that to his round of 66 on the final day of the 2013 Open Championship. Beginning the day five shots off the leader Lee Westwood, Mickelson swept through the field with four birdies in his last six holes to win by three strokes.
Mickelson was the only player to finish under par for the tournament as the sun beat down at Muirfield. His approach shot on the 18th was met by a huge ovation from the stands and was probably the highlight of his remarkable round.
A back nine score of 32 was the lowest closing round by a champion at Muirfield, and finally gave Phil the Claret Jug. Mickelson’s caddy, Jim "Bones" Mackay called it the best round of his career, and Phil couldn’t argue with that.
1. The Duel in the Sun (1977)
Not only one of the best moments in Open Championship history, but also one of the most memorable head-to-head battles in all of golf. Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus traded blows all week, and after both shooting 65 on the third day, found themselves tied for the lead, three shots clear of Ben Crenshaw in third.
It was a two-horse race, and Nicklaus landed the first blow, moving three shots clear after just four holes. Watson fought back and the pair were level again after the 8th, but Nicklaus regained a two-stroke lead by the time they arrived at the 13th. This is where momentum shifted, and Watson hit four birdies in his last six holes to storm home.
Nicklaus didn’t go down easy though, and made an unreal 35-foot putt on the 18th for birdie, forcing Watson to make a birdie himself to avoid an 18-hole play-off. He did just that to win by a stroke, and the men left the green arm-in-arm after one of the most incredible rounds of golf you’ll ever see.