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The memories of British Opens past

Readers of The First Call share their favorite remembrances of the Open Championship; LIV Golf remains a hot topic

144th Open, St Andrews 2015
Branden Grace walks over the Swilcan Bridge during the third round of the 114th British Open in 2015.

Question of the week [July 4-11]: What are your favorite British Open memories — a particular year, shot or player? 

Tiger Woods and David Duval dueling it out [in 2000] until Duval got stuck in the Road Hole bunker. It was the start of Tiger’s domination and David’s downslide into mere near greatness.

Steven Lindorff
Atlantic Beach, Florida

For my 50th birthday, my wife sent me on a golf trip to Scotland, which included four days at the 2000 Open Championship (also Jack Nicklaus’s last). I watched Tiger Woods blow away the field on the way to an eight-shot victory. 

But here’s a not so trivial question concerning that amazing performance. There are 112 bunkers around the Old Course at St. Andrews (where I am proud to say that one of my forebears was the greens superintendent back in the 1800’s). That means Tiger was exposed 448 times to those very penal bunkers over four rounds. 

Now the question: How many bunkers did Tiger visit on the way to his runaway victory? 0!


Craig Honeyman
Beaverton, Oregon

First place: Tiger Woods' 2000 win by eight strokes and 19-under total, but above all he avoided every bunker for the entire championship. 
Second place: Tom Watson beats Jack Nicklaus at Turnberry [in 1977].
Third place: Watson almost wins at 59 years old.

Peter Croppo
Bayfield, Ontario

Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus!! Need I say more!

Mike Reed
Jenison, Michigan

It has to be Tom Watson 2009 at Turnberry where, at 59, he took hold of the championship for 71 1/2 holes. Yes, he missed the putt and no he didn’t win. It was still one of the most magical memories in tournament history. Tom nearly got it right when he, the consummate gentleman he is, said, "it would have been a helluva story, wouldn’t it?” No Tom, it was a helluva story. Thanks for the memories.

Paul Vicary
The Villages, Florida

Tony Lema's run at the Open Championship [in 1964].

Ken Sakai
Indio, California

My favorite British Open memory is from the 1995 Open, when Constantino Rocca hit his drive on 18 short of the Valley of Sin, needed to get up and down for par to force a playoff with John Daly, chili-dipped his wedge into the Valley of Sin and then holed the ensuing 60-foot putt.  

It showed that nothing is over until it's over. I also found John Daly's reaction hilarious. He was watching in an embrace with his then-fiancee and when Rocca holed the putt he let her go and walked out of the frame as if to say, "Well, still got some work left."

Pete Bastianen
Wheaton, Illinois

The Open can be summed up in one 3-foot putt — Doug Sanders.  What victory would mean to a player?  Pressure!  Lack of immortality...well maybe the wrong kind.

John Capers III
Merion Golf Club 

After a seemingly endless barrage of verbiage, duplicity (copyright Rory McIlroy) and pontification, I can't keep silent any longer. Has it not occurred to the Fourth Estate that its hectoring on this issue has cultivated a new generation of fifth columnists amongst PGA Tour stalwarts?

People like Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka are as contrary as they come. Telling them stridently not to do something exponentially increases their likelihood of doing so.

Which makes me question whether the journalists who have been particularly vocal on this subject really have the game's best interests at heart or are just looking to stir up trouble to feed their own ends (prospects of lucrative commissioned opinion pieces, caviar at their next media center lunch, etc.).

Yes, we all hate Saudi Arabia. So much so that we pour their gas into our cars several times a week. We also hate China and Russia along with most other oppressive regimes in the Middle East and the Third World, but that doesn't stop us from doing business with them. And while we're on this line of thinking, has anyone examined all the PGA Tour official sponsors' sources of money and commercial relations? If they did, I bet Saudi would pop up quite a lot.

In reality, this is nothing more than a good, old-fashioned power struggle — between the PGA Tour, which has clearly been accumulating millions upon millions of dollars in a short fall between prize money and their various sponsorship and broadcasting income, and the new renegades on the block. The well-established players have been wise to the Tour's stockpiling of wealth at what they believe to be their expense for years, thus giving the egregious Greg Norman his belated opportunity to pounce.

The real immorality is how one-sided the reporting has been, including the breaking of an off-the-record understanding many months after the original interview. This is the result of decades of assiduous investment by the Tour, and their European counterparts, in media relations. Tacky or what?

A curse on both your houses, I say.

Paul Trow
London, England

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