Best Performances At the The Open Championship
As the elder statesman of the majors and the oldest golf tournament in the world, the Open Championship has produced some of the most memorable moments in sports.
Selecting the best performances in Open history presents a hefty back catalogue of great moments that go right back to the very first championship in 1860. As the sporting world prepares for the 148th Open at Royal Portrush, who will follow in these illustrious footsteps?
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Nick Faldo - The 1990 Open At St. Andrews
It’s quite remarkable to think that it’s now over a quarter of a century since an Englishman last won the Open. That’s actually the longest spell in Open history without a golfer from England lifting the Claret Jug.
That year was 1992 when a certain Nick Faldo claimed his third title at Muirfield but it is his win at St. Andrews two years earlier which is Faldo’s greatest career moment. Swaggering to a five-shot victory, Faldo hadn’t found a bunker until the fourth hole of the final round and recorded no three-putts to set a then-record score of 18-under par.
Tom Watson - The 1977 Open At Turnberry
There probably isn’t a golf fan alive who hasn’t heard of the epic “Duel in the Sun”. This was the showdown to end all golfing showdowns, contested between a pair who would become the great golfing rivals of their day.
Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus faced each other at a sun-drenched Turnberry, hosting its first Open, during the red-hot summer of 1977. The two blew away the rest of the field to set up a final day ding-dong which went back and forth like no other.
Nicklaus was 10 shots ahead of his closest pursuer as the pair prepared to take on the final hole and one behind Watson. Nicklaus went into the rough from the 18th tee while Watson reached the edge of the green. Suddenly Nicklaus recovered to make birdie with a monster putt and temporarily share the lead before Watson drained a three-footer, raised his hands in the air and took the title.
Harry Vardon - The 1914 Open At Prestwick
Vardon remains the only man to win the Open six times and he did so in 1914 at Prestwick. A three-shot victory earned him the record which stands to this day. Vardon was 44-years-old at the time and would remain the oldest man to win the Open until Roberto De Vicenzo won at Hoylake in 1967.
Seve Ballesteros - The 1984 Open At St. Andrews
Seve always said that his 1984 triumph at St. Andrews was the finest of his five major wins. Ballesteros began the final day two shots down but in later reminiscences, he always said he knew he was going to win. Battling Tom Watson and Bernhard Langer all day long, the Spaniard finally edged it with a birdie at the 18th. His air-punching celebration remains one of the most iconic golfing pictures.
Tiger Woods - The 2000 Open At St. Andrews
The year 2000 was “peak Tiger period”. Woods was simply dominant during this spell and changed the face of golf forever. Courses were lengthened to become “Tiger proof” and a whole new generation of golfers was inspired by a level of athleticism and power that hadn’t been seen in golf before.
Nowhere was this better demonstrated than at St. Andrews as the new millennium welcomed its first Open. Tiger fired a record-breaking 19-under and finished eight strokes clear of his nearest rival. The 2000 Open title also enabled Tiger to achieve the career grand slam and become only the fifth man to do so.
Paul Lawrie - The 1999 Open At Carnoustie
Ok, so no one really remembers Paul Lawrie’s win. The talk of the 1999 Carnoustie Open – and indeed every collapse in a major ever since and for immortality – will always be of Jean Van De Velde’s epic fail. With a three-shot lead going into the final hole, the journeyman, who had only ever one won once before on the Tour, had the Claret Jug firmly in his grasp.
Needing just a double-bogey to claim an unlikely Open victory, the Frenchman somehow bounced his way towards an unwanted place in the history books in calamitous fashion via a grandstand, a patch of deep rough and the water surrounding the 18th green at Carnoustie. A triple bogey and subsequent play-off loss followed. As for Lawrie, the pinnacle of his career is now merely an afterthought in Open folklore.
Who Will Win The 2019 Open Championship?
With three majors already done, the Open represents the final chance of the year for the world’s best to clinch one in 2019.
Few will look beyond Brooks Koepka in the 2019 Open odds as the American has an astonishing recent record at the majors. With a win and two second-place finishes in the 2019 majors so far, Koepka will head the betting.
Rory McIlroy earns his place as second favourite thanks to the number of times the County Down lad has played at Portrush, including setting a course record as an amateur. McIlroy has posted some good finishes this year and is due a solid major after failing to threaten at the three so far.
Graeme McDowell will attract interest thanks to his ties to Royal Portrush. Playing at his hometown club, the 39-year-old will represent a value pick with a sentimental back story thrown in for good measure. McDowell looked doubtful to qualify for the Open for much of the season but he is a life-long member of the Portrush Club.
Elsewhere, Justin Rose doesn’t have bad weeks and will likely be in contention once more, and with recent Open Championships all won by players with links course pedigree, last year’s winner Francesco Molinari and 2017 champion Jordan Spieth are both worth a look.
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*All odds from Bet UK’s online betting markets correct at the time of writing.
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