Golf is a global sport that boasts an array of glamorous and historic championships.
But for many, The Open is still the greatest – and this year’s competition at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland between 14th-21st July is already building up a head of anticipatory steam in sporting circles.
The 148th incarnation of the event will possibly feature tussles for the Claret Jug between terrific talents like defending champ Francesco Molinari, local legend Rory McIlroy, emerging ace Jon Rahm and Tiger Woods on his comeback trail.
So now’s the perfect time to take a look back at some of the most gob-smacking moments from this terrific tourney.
1. Harry Bradshaw – 1949
Harry Bradshaw might well have won The Open at Sandwich – had it not been for some broken glass from a beer bottle which he encountered during the second round. Rather than take a drop, Bradshaw chose to play the ball from the fragments, moving it a mere 30 yards. This decision seemed inconsequential at the time, but proved regrettable later in the competition when Bradshaw and his opponent Locke were tied for the lead and Locke won the play-off by a dozen shots.
2. Jack Nicklaus – 1966
Having won the other three golf Majors, Nicklaus (a.k.a. the Golden Bear) had his sights set firmly on securing the title at Muirfield. In the first Open to be scheduled over four days, Nicklaus finished his final session with a 70 and one stroke clear of his rivals Doug Sanders and Dave Thomas, becoming only the fourth player in history to win all four majors during his career.
3. Seve Ballesteros – 1984
In the final moments of his game against Tom Watson, Ballesteros needed a birdie on the 18th green of The Old Course in St Andrews to secure the championship title. His fist pump celebration after holing the putt has gone down in history as a truly memorable golfing moment.
4. Sandy Lyle – 1985
Three shots behind the third-round leaders David Graham and Bernard Langer, victory at Sandwich seemed unlikely for Lyle in 1985. However, despite some tricky moments on the final day, he overcame obstacles and became the first home-based Scot to win the Open since 1910.
5. Richard Boxall – 1990
Richard Boxall was just three shots off the lead in the third round at Birkdale when his leg gave way and he dramatically collapsed. His limb had been aching all day, but it turns out he’d actually broken it and he had to take 10 months off to recover.
6. Constantino Rocco – 1995
When Constantino Rocco messed up his approach shot at the 72nd hole in 1995’s championship at St Andrews, his only hope was to sink his 65-foot putt to force a playoff with his opponent, John Daley. And by some miracle, he did – to the disbelief of almost everyone in attendance.
7. Jean Van de Velde – 1999
At 1999’s tournament in Carnoustie, standing on the 18th tee of the 499-yard home hole with a three-stroke lead, Van de Velde appeared to have the championship in the bag. However, a series of bad shots followed and one saw him hit the ball into the Barry Burn river – resulting in him losing the tournament to underdog Paul Lowrie.
8. Tiger Woods – 2000
Tiger Woods started the millennium in fine style – avoiding all the bunkers at St. Andrews, he secured an eight-stroke win and became the youngest player to win a career grand slam, at the age of 24. Not satisfied with that awesome achievement, he also ended the tournament with a record score of 19 under par.
9. Gary Evans – 2002
Evans was close to winning The Open at Muirfield in 2002 until disaster struck at the 17th, when his second shot ended up in deep rough. Despite most of the crowd looking for it, the ball couldn’t be found and he had to take a penalty drop which cost him the title.
10. Ben Curtis – 2003
The 2003 Open at Sandwich was Curtis’s first Major and at the time he ranked 396th in world. However, the final day saw his opponents Nick Faldo and Thomas Bjorn play some sloppy shots, leading to a hugely unexpected victory for Curtis – he won the tournament by a single shot and became the first player since 1913 to win the first Major he had entered.