Bunker Mentality

The Top 10 Open moments

Bunker Mentality

View gallery

.
With the 141st Open upon us, it's time to cast an eye over some of the Major's best moments:

10. 1987 Muirfield - Faldo's consistency is par for the course.

Nick Faldo would never top a list of the most thrilling golfers in history, but boy could he keep a cool head under pressure. It is fitting, therefore, that he won his first Major title with an incredibly composed performance on the final day at Muirfield in 1987. In tricky conditions, Faldo remained remarkably steady and parred every hole in his final round. American Paul Azinger still looked on course for victory, but bogeys at the last two holes saw Faldo take the Claret Jug.

9. 1972 Muirfield - Lee Trevino 'throws it away' - or does he?

'The Merry Mex' was gunning for his second successive title in 1972 at Muirfield and coming to the 71st hole was level with Tony Jacklin. However, while Jacklin got safely on in three at the par five 17th, Trevino's fourth shot went through the green. "That's it, I've thrown it away," the Mexican-American muttered to himself, only to produce a remarkable chip-in to salvage par. Jacklin still had a birdie putt to go in front but, shaken from Trevino's miracle chip, he three putted to give Trevino a lead that he maintained for victory.

8. 1930 Royal Liverpool GC - Bobby Jones slams the opposition.

American Bobby Jones remained an amateur throughout his career. He played mostly on a part-time basis and chose to retire from competition at the age of 28. Yet he is still considered one of the greatest players of all time. In 1930 he won his third Open title. But more significantly, it represented just one part of golf's Grand Slam, which he achieved that year. In those days the slam was The Open, the US Open, the British Amateur and the US Amateur titles. No other player has won the Slam before or since, (although Tiger Woods won four in a row in 2000-1) and Jones is also still the last amateur to win The Open.

7. 2007 Carnoustie - Irish eyes are smiling.

Padraig Harrington became the first Irishman to win The Open in 60 years after a tense final day at Carnoustie when he edged out Sergio Garcia in a play-off. Garcia had a six-shot advantage over Harrington at the start of the day, but the Dubliner produced a scintillating final round before nerves got the better of him on the last, where he produced a double bogey. That let Garcia back in and the Spaniard only needed a par at the 18th to take the title. However, after getting out of a greenside bunker to within 10 feet, Garcia missed a par putt for the championship. A four-hole play-off ensued and a two-shot swing at the first proved key for Harrington, who was able to bogey the 18th for the win.

View gallery

.
6. 1995 St Andrews - Rocca and Roll before Daly takes it.

The antics of 'Wild Thing' John Daly rarely get upstaged on a golf course, especially, you would think, when he is on his way to a Major title. However, the likeable Italian Costantino Rocca did just that in 1995. On the 17th hole of the final round, Rocca's second shot hit the wall at the back of the green, leaving his ball in a depression in the road. However, he produced a remarkable chip shot to within four feet to par. That meant the Italian could force a play-off with a birdie at the short par-four last. But after a great tee-shot his chance again looked lost as he fluffed his second into the 'Valley of Sin' a full 60 feet from the hole. However, Rocca went straight from producing one of the worst shots in Open history to recording one of the best, as he putted through the valley for a remarkable three. Rocca fell to his knees and pounded the ground with joy. Pity he was unable recover in time for the play-off though, which Daly won with ease.

View gallery

.
5. 2009 Turnberry - So near and yet so far for Tom Watson.

59-year-old Tom Watson had five Open victories to his name already - but none since 1983, when he was one of golf's major forces. But after three rounds, he was front-runner for victory. Having taken a share of second on day one, he was tied for the lead at halfway, then held it on his own after three rounds. A stuttering final round looked to have cost him, but a birdie on the 17th put him in front of the field once again with a hole to go. Needing to get up and down in two shots to win on the final hole, he saw his putt slide by, forcing him into a play-off against Stewart Cink where, after 72 holes, he finally began to look his age.

4. 1953 Carnoustie - Ben Hogan comes, sees, conquerors, then goes back home again.

The great Ben Hogan didn't travel much after a near-fatal car accident in 1949, but four years later he finally decided to travel over the Pond to compete in The Open for the first time. 27,000 people watched as the most famous name in the game at the time won the tournament by four shots. Hogan only entered seven events that year and won six of them, and he may very well have won the Grand Slam that year too - had the US PGA Championship not been on at the same time as The Open.

View gallery

.
3. 2000 St Andrews - Out with the old, in with the new.

As three-time winner (and seven-time runner-up) Jack Nicklaus waved goodbye to Open crowds on the 18th, a 24-year-old Tiger Woods was watching the farwell before starting his round. Woods would go on to win the tournament by eight shots, with a record-breaking 19-under-par score. On that day he also became the youngest player to have won all four Grand Slam titles. The rest, as they say, is history.

2. 1977 Turnberry - Watson edges Nicklaus in classic final day.

Two giants of the game at the height of their powers did battle on the final day of what is widely regarded as the greatest Open. Over the course of four days, the two legends simply blew the opposition away as they both broke the then aggregate score record. A birdie from Watson on the 71st hole put him one up going down the last, and a cracking second shot to within a few feet looked to have sealed the deal when Nicklaus found himself with a 40-foot birdie chance. The Golden Bear sent the already excited crowd into sheer delight by holing the putt, only for Watson to hold his nerve with his own birdie as he claimed the second of his five Open titles.

1. 1999 Carnoustie - Jean pulls a 'Van de Velde' and loses The Open.

Whenever a sports star manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory – ‘bottling it’, in UK slang – then they can be said to have pulled a 'Van de Velde'.

The unheralded Frenchman needed just a double-bogey six for victory on a final hole he had birdied in his two previous rounds. However, things went bad for him...FAST. It started with an ill-advised driver off the tee. He twice tried to reach the green from dangerous positions instead of safely laying up. On his third shot, his club got tangled in the rough and his ball flew into the Barry Burn. He took off his shoes and socks and considered playing his fourth from the stream, but finally decided to take a drop. He would eventually need an up and down from a sand-trap for a triple bogey seven just to make a play-off with Justin Leonard and Paul Lawrie.

Not surprisingly, Van der Velde was in no condition for the play-off and the Claret Jug went to Lawrie. The BBC's Peter Alliss summed up Van de Velde's horrorshow when he said. "This is really beyond a joke - he's gone ga-ga!"

View gallery

.

View comments (20)