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Past Opens at Royal Birkdale

18 July 2017 National Sport


Last Updated: 17/07/17 6:46pm

Lee Trevino lifts the Claret Jug to his lips after victory at Royal Birkdale

Lee Trevino lifts the Claret Jug to his lips after victory at Royal Birkdale

Ahead of The 146th Open, we take a look back at the previous nine times the tournament has been played at Royal Birkdale…

1954

It took until the 83rd edition for the famous old tournament to visit Royal Birkdale, and the Merseyside venue played host to the first-ever Australian victor as Peter Thomson lifted the Claret Jug.

Thomson finished nine under par to beat out Bobby Locke, Dai Rees and Syd Scott by just a single stroke, setting a then-course record of 67 in the second round along the way.

The win kicked off a run of three straight Open victories for Thomson, and he also won it again in 1958 and 1965. Only one man (Harry Vardon with six) has won it more times.

Peter Thomson won the first of his Open titles in 1954

Peter Thomson won the first of his Open titles in 1954

Peter Thomson won the first of his Open titles in 1954

1961

The first of back-to-back wins for Arnold Palmer as The Open returned to Royal Birkdale seven years later. And once again it was Welshman Rees who was edged out by a single stroke.

Victory was made all the more impressive due to the poor weather at Southport that year, while Palmer gallantly called a penalty stroke on himself during the second round despite no one else seeing his ball move in the bunker.

Rain delayed the final round from the Friday until the Saturday, but Palmer withstood the testing conditions to see off the challenge of Rees.

Arnold Palmer practising his swing during his winning round in 1961

Arnold Palmer practising his swing during his winning round in 1961

Arnold Palmer practising his swing during his winning round in 1961

1965

Thomson’s fifth and final Open victory came as the championship returned to Royal Birkdale four years later.

A poor opening round of 74 (one over) appeared to put Thomson out of contention as he trailed by six strokes, but he bounced back in the second round by going five under, before hitting a 72 in the third to take the outright lead.

There would be no let up from the Australian in the final round either, as he went two under to win by two strokes and lift the Claret Jug again.

Thomson of Australia receives the Claret Jug after his fifth Open victory

Thomson of Australia receives the Claret Jug after his fifth Open victory

Thomson of Australia receives the Claret Jug after his fifth Open victory

1971

The 100th edition of The Open, played in rare fine weather on Merseyside, saw Lee Trevino emerge as the winner for the first time.

Having already sealed the US Open that year, Trevino held the joint-lead through the first two rounds before emerging clear on his own in the third, and he finally held off the challenge of Taiwanese crowd favourite Lu Liang-Huan to finish one stroke ahead on 14 under.

Trevino went on to defend his Open title at Muirfield a year later.

Trevino poses with wife Claudia after his win

Trevino poses with wife Claudia after his win

Trevino poses with wife Claudia after his win

1976

It took five editions of The Open at Royal Birkdale for the winner to truly storm to victory as Johnny Miller won by six strokes in 1976.

Seve Ballesteros had led through the first three rounds as he attempted to claim a first Claret Jug win, and looked in control as he led Miller by two shots going into the final day.

But Miller blitzed through the last round, hitting a superb 66 to finish on nine under as Ballesteros made a disappointing 74 to tie Jack Nicklaus for second.

Johnny Miller won The Open in Southport in 1976

Johnny Miller won The Open in Southport in 1976

Johnny Miller won The Open in Southport in 1976

1983

For the second time, Royal Birkdale delivered a fifth-time champion as Tom Watson lifted the Claret Jug again in 1983.

The American had previously won the championship in 1975, 1977, 1980 and 1982, and won by a single stroke again in the 112th edition, his first triumph in England.

Watson took the lead in the third round and held on to finish on nine under and edge out compatriots Andy Bean and Hale Irwin by a single stroke.

Tom Watson won his fifth and final Open at Royal Birkdale in 1983

Tom Watson won his fifth and final Open at Royal Birkdale in 1983

Tom Watson won his fifth and final Open at Royal Birkdale in 1983

1991

Ian Baker-Finch won his only Major at Royal Birkdale in 1991, a championship famous for his course-record 64 in the third round, which was quickly beaten by Jodie Mudd’s scorching round of 63 a day later.

Australian Baker-Finch had started quietly with two rounds of 71, but his 64 was followed by a final-day 66 to hold off the challenge of compatriot Mike Harwood and secure the Claret Jug by two strokes.

Ian Baker-Finch of Australia holds the trophy with his young daughter in 1991

Ian Baker-Finch of Australia holds the trophy with his young daughter in 1991

Ian Baker-Finch of Australia holds the trophy with his young daughter in 1991

1998

Mark O’Meara became the oldest winner of two Majors in the same year as he added The Open title to his Masters crown in 1998.

There was nothing between O’Meara and Brian Watts after four rounds as they both finished on even par and, for the first time ever at Royal Birkdale, a play-off was needed to decide the winner.

O’Meara immediately birdied the 15th as Watts could only par, and he went par through the next three holes as Watts failed to recover.

Mark O'Meara celebrates his win

Mark O'Meara celebrates his win

Mark O’Meara celebrates his win

2008
Padraig Harrington became the first man from a nation other than the USA or Australia to win at Royal Birkdale when he lifted the Claret Jug for a second successive year in 2008.

The Irishman started poorly with a four-over 74 in the first round, but bounced back with a 68 to make the cut in extremely difficult conditions in Southport. A two-over round on day three then brought him closer to contention.

Greg Norman, who held the lead going into the final day, closed with a round of 77, while Harrington hit a 69 to finish on three over and secure a four-stroke victory over Ian Poulter.

Padraig Harrington won the second of his two Open titles in 2008

Padraig Harrington won the second of his two Open titles in 2008

Padraig Harrington won the second of his two Open titles in 2008

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