The Open 2015: Top 10 moments at St Andrews

Tiger, Jack and Seve - who owns the best Open moment on the famed Old Course?

Andy Roberts's picture
Tue, 14 Jul 2015

The Open 2015: Top 10 moments at St Andrews

10. Bobby's luck, 1957

South African Bobby Locke survived a possible disqualification when he marked his ball on the 72nd green and played his ball without replacing his ball mark. 

The infraction went unnoticed until somebody spotted it in a newsreel and brought it to the attention of the R&A.

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Playing a ball from the wrong place was not specifically addressed in the rules back in 1957.  Therefore, instead of the two-shot penalty it is today, a player would have been disqualified in those days for playing from the wrong place. 

However, the R&A can waive or modify a penalty or disqualification in exceptional individual cases and they ruled that "with his three-shot lead and no advantage having been gained, the equity and spirit of the game dictated that he [Locke] should not be disqualified."

Locke won four major championships, all Claret Jugs. 

9. The inseparable pair, 1876 

After firing rounds of 86 and 90, Scotsmen Bob Martin and Davie Strath were locked in a two-man play-off for the 1876 Open.

Only extra holes never happened.  Strath was unhappy about an incident that had unfolded at the 17th when his third shot to the green hit one of the previous group, who were still holing out. His ball had finished closer to the hole than it might have, and the R&A investigated.

The rules committee decided a final decision would be taken after the play-off, but Strath felt any decision should have been taken beforehand and duly refused to take part in the play-off. 

Martin was handed the first of his two Claret Jugs and the £10 first prize by walkover. He won his second Open, again at St Andrews, in 1885. 

8. Kel spoils Palmer's party, 1960

Despite being a serial winner on his national Tour, Australia's Kel Nagle had never finished in the top 10 of a major before.

It was therefore somewhat of a shock to see him defy the odds at the centenary Open at St Andrews in 1960, holding off a spirited final-day challenge from hot favourite Arnold Palmer - who had already won the season's opening two majors.  

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Palmer was in contention throughout, and started the final round – which was delayed a day by torrential rain with the Valley of Sin three feet under water – four behind the 39-year-old Nagle.

The American shot 68 but finished one adrift of Nagle, who died earlier this year and is commemorated on the grandstand behind the 18th on the Old Course. 

7. Daly holds his nerve, 1995

John Daly produced one of the most memorable Open Championship moments when defying personal problems to lift the Claret Jug at St Andrews in 1995. 

With several visits to rehab for alcohol-related problems, on top of a long-driving game that did not seem to suit the Old Course and its strategically placed bunkers, the 1991 US PGA champion held his nerve superbly in the final round.

Trailing New Zealand's Michael Campbell by four shots heading into Sunday, the American took full advantage of the overnight leader's 76 by carding a 71 to post the clubhouse lead.

Daly seemed to have his second major title locked away when his only remaining rival, Italy's Costantino Rocca, duffed his approach to 18 and needed a long birdie putt of around 60 feet from the so-called "Valley of Sin" to force extra holes. 

But Rocca produced one of the greatest shots in Open history when he drained his mammoth putt, before falling to the ground and pounding his fists into the hallowed turf. 

The Italian suffered a mini meltdown in the four-hole play-off, however, taking three shots to get out the Road Hole bunker at 17, and Daly went on to win by four shots. 

6. 'Slammin Sammy' wins only Claret Jug, 1946

Sam Snead - the all-time leader on the PGA Tour with 82 tournament victories - became the first post-war winner of the Open Championship at St Andrews in 1946.

It would, however, be the only time the seven-time major champion would etch his name on the Claret Jug. 

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Snead did not entirely endear himself to the locals by observing on his arrival by train that the Old Course looked like "an old abandoned kinda place".

He would also later ruffle more feathers when officials had to track him down for the trophy presentation. 

Locked in a three-way tie for the lead alongside compatriot Johnny Bulla and Wales' Dai Rees heading into Sunday, Snead best navigated the strong winds, despite carding a 75, and went on to win by four shots on two under. 

Even though Snead won the first Open to be played since 1939, he still lost money because of the high travel expenses; his winner's share was £150.

5. Rory goes low, 2010

Rory McIlroy announced himself on the major stage during the first round of the Open Championship in 2010 when scorching around the Old Course in a nine-under 63 - tying the best score in major history in the process. 

The Northern Irishman became the 22nd player to shoot 63 in a major championship and the first at the Open since Nick Faldo and Payne Stewart at Royal St George's in 1993.

He also tied the lowest round in Open history at St Andrews, matching Paul Broadhurst's feat from the third round in 1990. 

McIlroy was bogey free for the round and played his final 10 holes in eight under to finish the day two shots clear of Louis Oosthuizen. 

But it was a case of "what a difference a day makes" as McIlroy was blown off track by strong winds and carded a disastrous eight-over 80 in the second round.

McIlroy bounced back well over the weekend with rounds of 69 and 68 to finish in a tie for third, but he could not live with Oosthuizen, who won by seven shots over Lee Westwood on 16 under. 

4. Flawless Faldo dominates, 1990

Nick Faldo was the last British champion of the Open at St Andrews and he did it in some style back in 1990.

The English legend followed up rounds of 67 and 65 with a sparkling 67 to see off co-leader Greg Norman and finished with a 71 to win by five shots from Stewart and Mark McNulty, breaking the then Open record in the process.

It would be the second of Faldo's three Open titles, sandwiched in between lifting Claret Jugs at Muirfield in 1987 and 1992. 

The six-time major champion initially said the 2015 Open Championship would be his last, but he has since made a farewell U-turn and pledged to play on at Royal Troon in 2016 and Royal Birkdale in 2017. 

3. Tiger tames Old Course, 2000

Tiger Woods started the new millennium with a record-breaking victory at St Andrews, shooting four sub-70 rounds and never finding himself in a bunker all week.

The untouchable Woods finished at an Open record-winning 19 under par, eight strokes clear of Thomas Bjorn and Ernie Els.

It was also the second leg of the "Tiger Slam".

Woods had already won the US Open (by a record 15 strokes), and would go on to add the US PGA in August before taking the following year's opening major at the Masters. 

2. Jack bids farewell, 2005

Woods may have won again at St Andrews, but it was Jack Nicklaus who stole the headlines at the Old Course in 2005. 

Marking the record 18-time major champion's last Open Championship, some 50,000 spectators gathered on the second day to pay their respects to the outgoing legend.

Nicklaus paused on the iconic Swilcan Bridge on the 18th hole for what like seemed like an eternity, and then walked up the fairway to the green to rapturous applause.

Fittingly, Nicklaus would go on to drain a 14-footer for birdie, but his three-over total saw him miss the halfway cut by two shots. 

Nicklaus won the Open twice at St Andrews in 1970 and 1978, and once at Muirfield in 1966. 

1. Seve, 1984

It has become one of the most iconic images in the game today: The late Seve Ballesteros punching the air ecstatically after making birdie on the 18th green to win the 1984 Open.

The final round came down to a nail-biting finish with Ballesteros and Tom Watson locked in a tie on 11 under going up the final two holes. 

Photographer David Cannon recalls capturing the iconic image of Seve

Playing in the group ahead of Watson, the adored Spaniard two-putted for par on the tough Road Hole 17th and would eventually pull one shot ahead when the American made bogey.

Knowing a birdie on the last would all-but guarantee victory, Ballesteros left a sand wedge some 15 feet short of the cup and rolled the ball home to secure the second of his three career Open wins. 

The celebration that followed lives with everyone today. 

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