It’s fair to say that Scotland, The Home of Golf, has seen more than its fair share of golf’s most memorable moments at The Open Championship throughout its unrivalled golfing history. At Your Golf Travel, we like to think that one of the best things about being a golfer is that, unlike in other sports, we can follow in the footsteps of our golfing heroes, the likes of Palmer, Nicklaus, and Woods, taking to the very same courses on which they have weaved their magic at The Open Championship throughout the years.
Let’s be honest; you can’t exactly rock up to Wembley for a kick about with your football pals, or to Wimbledon for a few sets of tennis with your mate who thinks he’s the next Roger Federer.
But you can channel your inner Nick Faldo and aim (probably unsuccessfully) for 18 pars at Muirfield, do a Paul Lawrie and come from 10 shots behind to beat your best friend at Carnoustie, or, after duffing a pitch into the Valley of Sin at The Old Course, pray to the golfing gods that you’ll pull off a Constantino Rocca and hole an impossible putt in front of the historic R&A Clubhouse. These are the moments that should inspire us to play these historic courses, and the moments that once you’ve finally made your golfing pilgrimage to Scotland will make the experience all the more special.
With all that in mind, we take a look at the best Open Championship Moments from past tournaments in Scotland, whilst we sit tight for the highly anticipated 150th Anniversary of the event at St Andrews in 2022.
Carnoustie has hosted The Open Championship no less than eight times, with 2018 being the most recent. Francesco Molinari was victorious in claiming the Claret Jug, making history as the first Italian to win the Major, with a bogey-free weekend. The course is renowned for playing tough and rough, reducing Sergio García to tears at the Major Championship in 2007 after being defeated by Pádraig Harrington. 1999 brings memories of Jean van de Velde’s game going to pieces on the 72nd‑hole, but it should perhaps be more fondly remembered for Paul Lawrie’s historic performance.
Trailing by 10 shots heading into Sunday’s play, Lawrie coped with everything Carnoustie and Scotland could throw at the players better than any other man in the field, eventually completing the largest-ever comeback in major championship history to claim the Claret Jug. Lawrie remains the last Scotsman to have won a major championship.
Home to the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, Muirfield provides a wealth of history when it comes to the Open Championship. The event was first hosted here in 1892 and was the first Open to be played over 72 holes.
Considered to be one of Scotland’s best course designers, James Braid first established himself in the game of golf as a player, when he won two Open Championships back to back at Muirfield in the early years of the event.
In our eyes, one of the most memorable years (out of 16 at this course) was 2013. Our chief holiday officer Lee Westwood, Hunter Mahan and Henrik Stenson were all on point and raring to win their first major championship. However, Phil Mickelson had other plans. With arguably the best round of his career, he birdied 4 of the 6 last holes and came away with a 3 shot victory. The Claret Jug was his.
Royal Troon is set to host its 10th Open in 2024. A favourite on the Open Rota, the course is known as being one of the most visually striking and greatest links courses of all.
The 2016 Open Championship is a year that stands out for us with regards to the best moments in golf. The final round between Mickelson and Stenson was a hark back to the glorious ‘Duel in the Sun’ between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus at Turnberry in 1977, with two players completely separating themselves from the rest of the field, going at each other toe to toe over a historic final round. Trading blows, Mickelson and Stenson matched each other shot for shot until the final 5 holes. It was at this point Stenson took the lead, eventually finishing 3 shots ahead of Mickelson, and 14 shots ahead of 3rd place!
Stenson had a record-breaking championship – he won by becoming the second player to win a major with a final-round 63 and his final score of 264 set a major record.
The Open is set to return to The Home of Golf in 2022 for the 150th Anniversary. It will be the 30th time The Old Course has hosted the championship on its historic links. There are so many incredible moments that have taken place here, it is hard to choose the best!
1984 – the battle between Tom Watson and Seve Ballesteros has to be up there. Seve needed to make a birdie on the 18th to be able to walk away a winner. His celebration is remembered as an iconic moment, at an iconic venue.
As big Tiger Woods fans, we have to include the 2000 championship as one of the best Open Championship moments. Woods shot a record score of 19-under par and became the youngest player to get a career grand slam! Aged just 24.
Turnberry hosted one of the greatest events of all time, one of the best Open Championship moments to go down in history. It is here the epic ‘Duel in the Sun’ took place, where over the two final days Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson played head to head. Aggressive shots were fired by both players, each putting pressure on the other to perform. It came down to the final hole and a one-shot lead in Watson’s favour, thanks to sinking his final putt.
Prestwick played host to the very first Open Championship ever. In 1860, the tournament was organised to find ‘the best golfer’ following the death of Allan Robertson who was known as the greatest player of his time.
There was no prize money up for grabs, just the title and respect of being the best. Tom Morris and Willie Park Jnr were the favourites, with Park claiming the first victory winning by 2 strokes.
Although none of us remembers this championship, it certainly is one the best Open Championship moments, as without it and the local golfers who created the tournament, we would not have the Major we all know today.
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