The Open, or as our american cousins like to call it, the British Open, is my favourite golf tournament of the year. Not just because I’m a Brit, but because it offers a challenge to the tour pros like no other event. It’s a bit like Wimbledon and Tennis. The likes of Federer and Murray spend all year banging a ball about on concrete, but for 2 magical weeks in June they play on grass – just as the game was invented.
That’s the same with The Open. 40 weeks of target golf on over watered courses and then Links Golf. On the same courses that the tournament has been played for nearly 150 years! In fact, the St Andrews links, the spiritual home of golf, was laid out in 1764, that is 86 years before the State of California (the home of Pebble Beach, possible the finest course in North America) was admitted as the 31st state of the union.
Check out this great website to find out more about the history of St Andrews.
Anyway, let’s get back to the original point of this blog post. My 5 favourite moments in The Open. To be honest, I should have titled the blog My 5 favourite moments from The Open as available on YouTube’ – sadly no footage exists of the early years.
#1 – Ben Hogan, 1953, Carnoustie
I never saw Ben Hogan play, but I was aware of him from an early stage in my golf career because I had a second hand Ben Hogan 2 wood, from the bargain bin at Downshire Golf Course.
#2 – Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus, 1977, Turnberry
This is the year that I fell in love with golf. This is the TV moment that kicked it all off. Two of the greatest golfers ever, who also happen to be great guys as well.
#3 – Seve Ballesteros, 1984, St Andrews
Seve is a golf god. Plain and simple. This putt on the 18th at St Andrews is probably the most famous winning putt in the history of the tournament. Seve’s celebration is so iconic it created a brand.
#4 Jean van der Velde, 1999, Carnoustie
This is car crash golf at it’s worst. The reason I included this in my list is because we have all been there. Well, metaphorically speaking, I don’t know about you, but I haven’t cocked up the last hole and thrown away the greatest prize in golf, but I have done it in my monthly medal a couple of times, and the club championship once (still have nightmares about that one!)
#5 Tom Watson, 2009, Turnberry
Returning to scene of the magical Open of 1977 (see #2), Tom Watson, at the age of 59, almost did it again. And in the process he cemented himself in the hearts of golf fans all over the world.
So, there you have it, my favourite stories from my favourite golf tournament – The Open. Do you agree or disagree? Do you have your own special moments?