Seve, Tony Jacklin and Nicklaus vs. Watson. What will take top spot in our 5 Most Iconic Open Moments?
5) Winning in Colour – 1969 Open
After being the first golfer to hit a televised hole-in-one two years earlier, it seemed only fitting that Tony Jacklin won the first Open to be televised in colour in 1969.
As commentators throughout the week mentioned relentlessly, it had been 18 years since the Open had seen a British champion – but no longer. Despite trailing by three at the halfway point, Jacklin rallied in the final two rounds to snatch the title by two strokes on the final day and inspire a whole new generation of golfing fans and players alike.
4) Bobby Jones’ Slam – 1930 Open
Definitively the greatest golfer of his generation and quite possibly of all time – aside from founding The Masters, Jones’ enduring legacy is completing the golfing Grand Slam – which in 1930 comprised of the British Amateur, US Amateur, US Open and British Open.
On the final hole of the 1930 British Open, Jones had a one stroke lead over competitor McDonald Smith. After landing his approach shot on the green, he had a 40-yard putt for birdie – which he promptly sank. He went on to win the US Amateur a mere 10 weeks later to seal his Grand Slam – a feat no other golfer has ever managed.
3) Seve’s in the Driving Seat – 1979 Open
Of all the obstacles to winning a first major title, it wasn’t until the iconic Seve Ballesteros came along that one of them turned out to be a parked car!
After mis-hitting his drive 70 yards right from the par-4 16th tee, Seve’s ball landed in the parking lot and lodged itself under a car. However, from a free drop, the indomitable Spaniard fired his chip onto the green and sunk a 20-foot monster putt for birdie. Needless to say, the Claret Jug followed two holes later.
2) Van de Velde’s Mental Meltdown – 1999 Open
If you’re standing on the final tee at a major, needing only a six or better to win from a par-4, you have to fancy yourself to triumph. Step forward Jean van de Velde.
Looking set to become only the second Frenchman in history to win the Open, the pressure got to Velde’s in the most spectacular, and heart-breaking, of fashion. His 18th tee shot landed on the 17th fairway, which was then clipped back across too far into the rough. After duffing a chip into the Barry Burn, he threw his shoes and sock off and waded in after it – as it had sat up on a rock in the middle.
Thankfully, his caddie and several others managed to talk him into taking the penalty drop – which flew straight into a greenside bunker. He managed a good recovery to get up and down, but the damage was done. The seven strokes led to a playoff, which Velde lost.
1) Duel in the Sun – 1977 Open
What else could take top spot?
Turnberry in Scotland has played host to its fair share of golfing tussles, but the one that will live longest in the memory is Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson’s epic clash on the final day of the 106th Open Championship.
With both men miles clear of the rest of the field in the blazing Scottish heat, Watson triumphed by a single stroke to win the match dubbed ‘Duel in the Sun’ – now so iconic that Turnberry’s 18th hole is named after it.