The Open Championship is golf’s oldest major. Often referred to as The British Open, we have seen some of the most memorable finishes and winners in the history of the game. The biggest names on the biggest stage have won and lost in dramatic fashion. As a partner of John Morgan Sportswear, I admire how our brand strives to mimic the style and performance we have seen in the highlights below. This dedication to the craft of making fine menswear mimics the dedication by the winners of my Top 5 Open Championship Moments.
1977 - Turnberry – Tom Watson
Known as the dual in the sun, I was only 3 years old when this one occurred. I watched highlights whenever possible and my appreciation for this competition between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson grew. Now, considered by most to be the best British Open ever contested, it remains at the top of my list. Watson and Nicklaus both shot 65’s Saturday to surge into the lead. Nicklaus took the lead early in Sunday’s final round, but Watson holed a 60-footer on the 15th for a share. Watson birdied the 17th to take a 1 shot advantage to the 18th. There, Watson hit 7 iron to two feet. From the high grass, Nicklaus hit an 8 iron to 35 feet. In Nicklaus like fashion, he holed the 35-footer forcing Watson to make his short putt to win. Great play, great drama!
2000 - St. Andrews, The Old Course – Tiger Woods
The legends seem to have knack for winning on the most iconic venues, and in the most dramatic fashion. Tiger accomplished this in 2000 when he won the British Open at St. Andrews, becoming the youngest to win the career grand slam. The performance was dominant, winning by 8 shots, shooting 19 under par, and all at the age of 24. He managed to navigate his way around The Old Course with surgical precision, avoiding every one of the 112 bunkers and finishing the tournament without a 3 putt. The win was one leg of the Tiger Slam in which he won all four professional majors in succession. This was a special performance delivered by a special player.
1970 - St. Andrews, The Old Course – Jack Nicklaus
As stated earlier, legends win on golf’s biggest stages. Jack Nicklaus did the same winning twice at The Old Course, just as Tiger. No surprise they are the only two golfers in the conversation as the greatest of all time. Jack’s first came in 1970. He was the beneficiary of a Doug Sanders untimely miss on the 72nd hole from 3 feet left him in the first ever 18-hole playoff with Nicklaus. Win one hole to play in the playoff, Nicklaus drove over the 18th green, chipped to 8 feet, and holed the putt for victory. He hurled his putter into the air with uncharacteristic emotion. He had won his 2nd Open and now had done it at the home of golf.
Between the 1963 and the 1980 Open, Nicklaus won three times, was second seven times and third three times. Other than finishing 12th one time, he was never left Sunday worse than sixth. An incomparable record.
1953 - Carnoustie – Ben Hogan
This was Ben Hogan’s only trip over seas to compete in the British Open, and he made it count. This became his 9th and final major, capping off one of the greatest careers in professional golf. After suffering multiple injuries in a devastating car accident in 1949, where he dove in front of his wife to protect her during the head on collision, Hogan grinded his way back to the top of the golfing world winning the 1950 US Open. When he arrived in the UK a week before the Open in 1953, he had already won the years’ Masters and US open. He improved his score each day at Carnoustie, setting a course record on day 4 and accomplishing the feat of winning the career grand slam. To date, that list includes only 5 players… Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods.
2016 - Royal Troon – Henrik Stenson
There were many great little stories in this British Open. Henrik became the first ever Swede to lift the Claret Jug. The lowest final round in any major was tied by Henrik with 63, and it remains the lowest final round by Champion Golfer of the Year. Henrik was a full 14 shots in front of third place. His 20 under par total matched the all-time major championship record and the 264 aggregate was a record since tied by Brooks Koepka. However, the best story was the head-to-head battle between Stenson and Mickelson. It looked like 1977 when Nicklaus and Watson dueled it out. Stenson and Mickelson traded blows throughout the weekend with Henrik making 10 birdies on Sunday on his way to 63 and a 3 shot victory. Some of the best golf ever played in a British Open.
This weekend at Royal St. George’s Golf Club is destined to be a test for some of the games great players. And while you watch, be sure to do so in style with John Morgan Sportswear!