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8 Classic Open Moments at St Andrews

By: | Mon 11 Jul 2022 | Comments


THE Old Course at St Andrews, host to the 150th Open Championship, has been the scene of much drama over the years.

Here, we look at some of the classic moments that have unfolded at the Home of Golf.

The 1960 Open 

Australian Kel Nagle won The Open in 1960 but the tournament is remembered for rain of biblical proportions. Water cascaded down the steps of the clubhouse and ran across the 18th green. It brought play to a halt but the course recovered remarkably quickly. Nagle beat Arnold Palmer by a shot. It was Palmer’s first appearance and his style of golf caught the public’s imagination. He would go on to win in 1961 and 1962 and is credited for putting The Open back on the map.

Jack Nicklaus, 1970

Tony Jacklin was defending the title he had won at Lytham 12 months earlier and, on the opening day, played the first nine holes in 29 strokes. And then the heavens opened and play was suspended. When Jacklin returned the magic had gone. He came home in 38. On what should have been the final day, Doug Sanders came to the 18th and lined up a 30-inch putt to win. He bent down to pick up an imaginary piece of grass and missed the putt. The following day he faced Jack Nicklaus in an 18-hole playoff. When they came to the final hole, Nicklaus removed his jersey and smashed his drive through the back of the green, more than 380 yards away. He then got up and down in two for a winning birdie, almost knocking out Sanders when he threw his putter in the air - as it landed it missed Sanders by inches.

Tommy Nakajima, Road Hole Bunker, 1978

Before we get to Nakajima’s drama at St Andrews, it is worth recalling what had happened to him at Augusta earlier the same year. He had begun The Masters with an 80. He came to the 13th hole in the second round with little hope of making the cut and promptly hooked his drive into the creek. He was forced to drop the ball out. Penalty shot. The third swipe went less than 100 yards. The fourth sailed into the creek in front of the green. He tried to play from the creek but the ball hit his foot. Another penalty and he lay seven. Attempting to pass his wedge to his caddie for it to be cleaned, the club ended up in the water. Another penalty. He finally pitched out over the green, chipped back and two-putted for a 13. Fast forward to The Open at St Andrews. He was three under par playing the 17th hole in the third round and safely reached the green in two. But his first putt ended up in the Road Hole bunker. Nakajima hit three nearly perfect explosion shots, only to have them fall short by inches, race back down the bank, Finally, the fourth sand shot stayed on the green and Nakajima two-putted for a nine! The bunker is now known as The Sands of Nakajima.

Seve Ballesteros, 1984

Seve Ballesteros was at the peak of his considerable powers when The Open returned to St Andrews once more in 1984. He was in contention from the start and went into the final round on 207, nine under par and two shots behind joint leaders Tom Watson and Ian Baker-Finch, of Australia. Ballesteros finished with a round of 69, the highlight of which was his birdie putt on the 72nd hole, which fell in the side of the hole and prompted one of the most famous scenes of celebration the world of golf has ever seen. Ballesteros repeatedly punched the air in delight. Behind him, Watson was coming to grief on the famous Road Hole, his chances over when he ended up on the road. Ballesteros eventually won by two shots.

Nick Faldo, 1990

Faldo and Greg Norman were tied on 132 after 36 holes and were paired together in the third round. The Englishman produced a masterclass. Shooting flawless round of 67, while Norman staggered in with a 76. There are who believe it sewed the seeds for what happened during the final round of The Masters six years later. Faldo finished with a 71 to beat Mark McNulty and Payne Stewart by five shots. Norman finished with a 69 for a share of sixth place.

John Daly, 1995

The Wild Thing had won the PGA Championship in sensational fashion in 1991 and the Old Course was made for him. He finished the tournament on 282, six under par, and then waited to see if Italy’s Costantino Rocca could birdie the last hole to force a playoff. Rooca’s drive finished just short of the green, leaving him a tricky pitch. Incredibly, he fluffed it. He then reached for his putter. The ball set off, rolling through the Valley of Sin - and vanished into the hole. Rocca threw himself to the ground, beating the fairway with his fists. Unfortunately, he was completely spent and Daly easily won the four-hole playoff.

Tiger Woods, 2000

Woods had already won the US Open at Pebble Beach in record-breaking fashion, claiming the title by a mind-boggling 15 strokes. So he arrived at the Home of Golf in the form of his life. He would go on to put on an exhibition. He led by three after 36 holes, by six after 54 holes and would finish eight shots ahead of Ernie Els and Thomas Bjorn as he won the Claret Jug. Remarkably, he played 72 holes without finding a single bunker. Woods would go on to win the PGA and The Masters in 2001, meaning he held all four majors at the same time - it became known as The Tiger Slam.

Rory McIlroy, 2010

The Northern Irishman was just 21 years old but everybody knew he was a special talent. And what a time he had on the opening day as he reduced the Old Course to 63 blows with a glorious display of shot-making. But on the Friday the rain came hammering down and the wind blew. The youngster finished with an 80 - 17 shots worse than his opening effort. To his credit, he would regroup over the weekend and finished in a share of third place. The tournament was won by Louis Oosthuizen, a relatively unknown South African. Everybody knew who he was by the end of the week as he won by seven shots.


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The oldest & most prestigious major, a trip to The Open is a must for every golf fan. From tickets and transfers to hospitality & golf, Golfbreaks.com can build the perfect package to help you experience The Open in style.


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