In his final Open appearance at St. Andrews, Bobby Jones set a scoring record that stood for 28 years. (Getty Images)
Opens at St. Andrews always memorable affairs
By Chris Dunham, PGATOUR.COM staff
From 36-hole events, refusals to play in a playoff, faulty mathematics, whiffed putts, illegally placed ball markers and Road Hole woes, the Open Championship has had an interesting history at the Old Course. Below are brief summaries of the previous 27 Open Champions contested on the links at St. Andrews.
1873, Tom Kidd: 179
A soggy St. Andrews made its debut as an Open Championship venue in 1873, the first time the Open had not been played at Prestwick. That course contained just 12 holes, so all previous Opens were contested in three days. The two-round event at the 18-hole course at St. Andrews, was contested in one day: Oct. 4, 1873. Tom Kidd, a caddie at St. Andrews, won the event over a 26-man field that included Young Tom Morris, who finished tied for third, four shots shy of his fifth consecutive Open title. Kidd’s score of 179 was the highest winning score at the Open Championship until the tournament was expanded to 72 holes in 1892. Kidd’s prize for winning this event? A whopping £11.
1876, Bob Martin: 176
In what was the easiest playoff victory in Open Championship history, Bob Martin claimed the 1876 Open Championship by simply walking the course. The St. Andrews native found himself tied with Davie Strath following 36 holes of play. Straith, however, had an interesting finish to his second round of play. On the 17th hole, his approach shot struck another golfer (who was still on the green) and settled near the hole. A complaint against Straith was filed with the R&A, which decided not to issue a ruling until after the playoff had been completed. Straith, knowing that a penalty would knock him out of a tie for first, believed that the ruling should have been made before the playoff was contested and refused to participate, allowing Martin to waltz to the title.
1879, Jamie Anderson: 169
Jamie Anderson, the 1873 runner-up but two-time reigning Open champion, notched a victory at St. Andrews on his third try. He tied for 12th at the Old Course in 1876 but had won at Musselburgh and Prestwick the previous two years. With the victory, he became the third person with three or more Open titles (and the first not named Tom Morris). Anderson’s two-round score of 169 was a record for an Open at St. Andrews until it was broken in 1891 -- the last year the event was contested in 36 holes.
1882, Bob Ferguson: 171
Bob Ferguson followed Jamie Anderson’s three-peat with one of his own, also capped at St. Andrews. (Ferguson would later fall short in an 1883 playoff as he tried to lock up the Open’s second four-peat.) His first-round 83 gave Ferguson a three-shot lead and his second-round 88 was the third best score of the round, good enough to give him the title.
1885, Bob Martin: 171
If there were any doubts about Bob Martin after his controversial win in 1876, he ended them nine years later. The St. Andrews native notched his second and final Open Championship by overtaking Archie Simpson, who led Martin by a shot after the first round. For the first time in the history of the Open Championship, the field had more than 50 competitors, with 51.
1888, Jack Burns: 171
Another native of St. Andrews, Jack Burns, took the 1888 championship by a single shot -- in spite of himself. After the conclusion of his second round, Burns turned in a scorecard suggesting his second-round score was an 86, giving him a total of 172 and placing him in a three-way playoff with Ben Salyers and Davie Anderson. However, a Royal and Ancient member checked the addition on the card to find Burns had incorrectly added his score, which should have been an 85. The change was made and Burns was named the champion. He was the third consecutive champion at St. Andrews to win with a score of 171.
1891, Hugh Kirkaldy: 166
Hugh Kirkaldy made sure that a 171 didn’t win the 1891 event at St. Andrews, the final Open Championship to be contested in 36 holes. His two-round total of 166 set an Open Championship record at St. Andrews and gave him a two shot victory over his older brother Andrew and Willie Fernie. The scores were impressive, considering the cold, rainy, windy conditions the players faced. Andrew notched 14 top-10 finishes in Open play, but never won. He did, however, become the first honorary professional appointed by the Royal and Ancient.
1895, J.H. Taylor: 322
The first two-day, 72-hole Open Championship played at St. Andrews went to J.H. Taylor. His four-shot victory marked the second of his five Open Championships captured between 1894 and 1913. After a first-round 86, Taylor was tied for 16th, six shots out of the lead. He climbed into second place with an afternoon 78 and pulled away on day two with rounds of 80 and 78, five shots better than any other competitor. Taylor was the first Englishman to win an Open at St. Andrews – all previous winners had been Scots.
1900, J.H. Taylor: 309
Taylor improved upon 1895’s four-shot win with four rounds in the 70s to secure an eight-shot victory in 1900. Making the win more impressive was that Taylor was being chased by the other two members of golf’s “Great Triumvirate” (Harry Vardon and James Braid), but defeated them by eight and 13 shots, respectively. The trio would occupy the top three spots in two other Open Championships and combine for 16 Open wins between 1894 and 1914.
1905, James Braid: 318
For the first time in Open Championship history, the field climbed to more than 150 players, creating a need to contest the event over three days for the first time at St. Andrews (the previous year’s event had also been played over three days). It was steady play that keyed James Braid, who shot two 78s and two 81s in the tournament. Rowland Jones, who finished five shots back in a tie with J.H. Taylor had a third-round 87, which took him from the top spot to a tie for seventh – eight shots back.
1910, James Braid: 299
James Braid posted the first sub-300 score in a four-round Open at St. Andrews to notch his fifth Open Championship of the decade. He became the first five-time winner, a feat that has been matched by four others, including the other two members of the Great Triumvirate. Braid actually fired a pair of first-round 76s, but the first was not counted because weather washed out the first day’s play. He carded the same score a day later and backed it with scores of 73, 74 and 76 to win by four shots.
1921, Jock Hutchison: 296
Jock Hutchison – who born in St. Andrews but later moved to the U.S. and became a citizen in 1920 – was the first American to win an Open. (A year later, Walter Hagen became the first U.S.-born champ.) Hutchison led after each of the first two rounds, but a third-round 79 left him four shots back. A final-round 70 propelled Hutchison into a 36-hole playoff with amateur Roger Wethered. Hutchison cruised to a nine-shot win.
1927, Bobby Jones: 285
Bobby Jones had played two full rounds (including one with Jock Hutchinson) and 11 holes of a third round in the 1921 Open Championship before picking up and leaving St. Andrews, much to the chagrin of many. He later called that the “most inglorious failure of my golfing life." On the same course six years later, though, Jones followed a first-round 68 with three consecutive 72s to successfully defend his Open title. His scoring record would stand for 28 years. Jones would never compete in another Open Championship at St. Andrews. He retired in 1930 after winning the grand slam -- U.S. Open, British Open, U.S. Amateur and British Amateur. The British Amateur was played at St. Andrews that year.
1933, Denny Shute: 292
The third playoff in an Open Championship at St. Andrews came down to a pair of Americans as Shute defeated Craig Wood by five shots. It was Wood’s first playoff loss in a major, but he would go on to lose in extra holes at the other three as well before winning two of golf’s crown jewels. The playoff would have included three players if Leo Diegel, one of four leaders entering the final round, hadn’t whiffed at a putt on the 18th green in his final round. Shute’s victory marked the 10th consecutive for U.S. golfers in the Open Championship. Also contributing to that run were Bobby Jones (three wins), Walter Hagen (three wins), Tommy Armour, Gene Sarazen and Jim Barnes. Sarazen, who won the 1932 Open, finished one shot out of the playoff.
1939, Dick Burton: 290
Dick Burton rallied from four shots down entering the final round to win the final Open before World War II forced it to take a seven-year hiatus. Burton birdied the final hole to secure the two-shot win over American Johnny Bulla. His final-round 71 was the best score by any of the 34 players to make the cut.
1946, Sam Snead: 290
The Open came “Slammin” back after WWII with Sam Snead taking the first post-war title – his only Open Championship. Snead’s long, accurate driver allowed him navigate windy conditions and post the best final round score of anyone within eight shots of his lead, including the two competitors he was tied with starting the final round. For the second-consecutive Open, Johnny Bulla finished in second place. This time he tied with Bobby Locke, four shots behind Snead.
1955, Peter Thomson: 281
The middle win in the fourth three-peat in Open Championship history, Thomson’s victory in 1955 broke the Open’s four-round scoring record. The Australian went on to win in 1956, 1958 and 1965. His 1955 victory was the only title he would claim at St. Andrews. Thomson’s second-round 68 was one of nine scores in the 60s posted by the tournament’s 94 players. The score put him atop the leaderboard, where he would stay for the rest of the event. Finishing four shots back in fourth place was Thomson’s rival, then three-time Open champion, Bobby Locke.
1957, Bobby Locke: 279
Bobby Locke’s fourth and final Open Championship victory was his first on the Old Course, but was accomplished with some controversy. Locke’s ball marker on the 72nd green was in the line of his playing partner, Bruce Crampton. Locke, being a good sport, moved his marker a clubhead’s length off the line. Locke made a mistake and did not replace his marker before putting out. Because his margin of victory was three shots and, according to the R&A, he gained no competitive advantage, Locke was not disqualified. Locke’s three-shot victory over Peter Thomson prevented his long-time rival from securing the first four-peat in Open Championship history. The event was initially scheduled to be played at Muirfield, but was moved to St. Andrews to reduce players’ travel and help with fuel shortages stemming from the Suez Crisis.
1960, Kel Nagle: 278
Kel Nagle started the tournament with rounds of 69 and 67, but trailed Roberto de Vicenzo (67-67) by two shots. He made a move in the third round, taking advantage of de Vicenzo’s 75 and shooting a 71 to take a two-shot advantage. Better known than who won the “Century Open” is who didn’t, though. Making his first appearance, Arnold Palmer charged from behind with a final-round 68, but still came up one shot shy of winning. Palmer would win each of the next two Open Championships, besting Nagle, the second-place finisher, by six shots in 1962.
1964, Tony Lema: 279
Yet another legend in the making was denied a title at St. Andrews, although Jack Nicklaus would rebound as well as, if not better than, Arnold Palmer did. Tony Lema fired rounds of 73 and 68 to open up a two-shot lead at the midway point. He was nine shots better than the Golden Bear, who would charge to a 66-68 finish, only to fall five shots short of his first Open title. The runner-up finish was the first of Jack’s seven second-place finales at the Open. It wasn’t quite an “Always the bridesmaid” story for Nicklaus, though. The Golden Bear won two years later at Muirfield and went on for two others at St. Andrews.
1970, Jack Nicklaus: 283
Lee Trevino led through three rounds but his final-round 77 opened the door for Doug Sanders – who in turn ushered in Jack Nicklaus. Sanders entered the final round tied with Nicklaus and he was even par, leading by a shot, playing the 72nd hole. Sanders found the 18th green in two and needed just a two-putt to win. His par putt from about 30 inches broke below the hole, sending Sanders into an 18-hole playoff with Nicklaus. In the playoff, Nicklaus had the same scenario Sanders had the previous day – a one-shot lead on the 18th tee. He boomed his drive over the green then watched Sanders hit an approach within 4 feet. Knowing he would probably need an up-and-down, Nicklaus did just that. By tossing his putter in the air after making the 8-foot birdie putt which clinched the title, Nicklaus created a signature celebratory moment for The Open Championship.
1978, Jack Nicklaus: 281
A star-studded quartet of Ben Crenshaw, Raymond Floyd, Tom Kite and Simon Owen finished the tournament two shots back, but once again, a still-young Golden Bear reigned supreme at the Old Course. Not found in that group behind Nicklaus was third-round co-leader and reigning Open champion Tom Watson, whose final-round 76 left him six shots back. Nicklaus fired a bogey-free 69 in the final round, his only round without a bogey in his three Open championships. The victory was Nicklaus’ final at the Open Championship and 15th of 18 career majors. He would win each of the other majors once more to reach his current record total.
1984, Seve Ballesteros: 276
Another shared third-round lead for Tom Watson, another disappointment at the Old Course. Watson’s approach shot to the 17th hole went long, dropping him out of a tie for the lead with Seve Ballesteros, who notched his first par of the week at No. 17 in the group ahead. Ballesteros went on to birdie 18 for the two-shot victory. The win was the fourth of five major titles for the European Tour’s all-time wins leader and provided a huge boost for the fortunes of European golf.
1990, Nick Faldo: 270
Nick Faldo made just one bogey on holes not numbered 17 (he bogeyed that one three times, though) en route to breaking the Open record at St. Andrews with an 18-under showing. Faldo’s final-round lead, which started at five shots, was whittled to just two when Payne Stewart birdied No. 12. The charge ended when Stewart found a bunker and bogeyed No. 13, then finished with consecutive bogeys to give Faldo the five-shot victory. This Open Championship was Faldo’s second of three between the years 1987 and 1992.
1995, John Daly: 282
Daly opened with a 67 and shared the 36-hole lead after a second-round 71. Going into the final round, however, he found himself four shots behind Michael Campbell and two behind Costantino Rocca. Campbell faded with a final-round 76 while Daly made his way to the clubhouse with a 71 and a one-shot lead. The celebration began for Daly as he watched Rocca drop his second shot into the Valley of Sin at the front of the 18th green. Rocca, however, made an improbable putt of nearly 70 feet to force a playoff. Daly’s two-shot lead in the four-hole playoff swelled to five when Rocca got into some trouble in the Road Hole bunker, and the American won his second major title. An interesting note: This Open was the first played by Tiger Woods, who made the cut but finished 13 shots back in a tie for 68th.
2000, Tiger Woods: 269
A 24-year-old Tiger Woods returned to the Old Course looking to win his fourth major and complete the career Grand Slam. While the finish wasn’t the 15-shot victory he had at Pebble Beach the previous month, Woods left no doubt as he cruised to an eight-shot win. Neither Thomas Bjorn or Ernie Els, who tied for second, could get within five stokes of Woods on the final day. Woods’ playing partner, David Duval, cut the deficit to three at one point on the back nine, but faltered down the stretch with three bogeys and a quadruple bogey at the dreaded 17th. Woods became the first golfer to complete an Open at St. Andrews with four rounds in the 60s, and accomplished what may be a more impressive feat by not hitting into a single bunker the entire week. The victory was also the second of four consecutive major championships by Woods in what became known as the “Tiger Slam.”
2005, Tiger Woods: 274
The most recent Open Championship at St. Andrews also went to Woods, who took a four-shot lead into the weekend and was never challenged. The victory became major championship No. 10, moving him into solo third place all time and more than halfway to the magic number of 18 career majors Jack Nicklaus posted in his career. Speaking of the Golden Bear, the 2005 Open marked his final start at an Open Championship. The then-65-year-old Nicklaus, after a 10-minute ovation and pause for pictures on the Swilcan Bridge, went out in style, holing an 18-foot birdie putt.