Wednesday, 6 July 2016

1980s Open Championships

This week I am taking a look back on the Open Championships of the 1980s. A decade that was initially dominated by Tom Watson, saw Britain enjoy success, involved the joy of Seve, and witnessed record attendances, and high and low scores. Plus a few dodgy number ones....

1980: Tom Watson (Muirfield)

In a tweet: Watson strolls to an easy win, winning his third Open title and his first major in three years.

Significant other: Isao Aoki. An Open Championship record equalling round of 63 on the Saturday saw Aoki fire nine fours and nine threes, using his putter just 24 times. Aoki would finish tied-12th, thirteen shots behind an unstoppable Watson.

Minute-by-minute: Just when you think Watson might have opened the door ever so slightly, he seemingly slams it shut on everyone. After finding the greenside bunker with his second to the 18th, Watson recovers superbly and makes his par, to leave him four shots in front going into the final round. Watson has covered the back nine in just 30 shots, his 64 giving Lee Trevino, Ken Brown and Ben Crenshaw a mountain to climb tomorrow.

What they said: "Tom Watson, secure as a fat cat with a comfortable cushion, toyed with his closest pursuers Sunday and romped home an easy winner in the British Open." The Milwaukee Sentinel view on Watson's win.

Misc: For the first time ever, The Open was scheduled to finish on the Sunday. Previously, it had started on the Wednesday and finished on the Saturday.

No1: Xanadu, Olivia Newton-John & The Electric Light Orchestra

1981: Bill Rogers (Royal St George's)

In a tweet: After finishing the US Open tied-2nd, American Bill Rogers' fine form continues, winning a first major despite a couple of scares on the way

Significant other: Ben Crenshaw. Rogers had been undecided about making the trip to Sandwich, until he decided to talk to fellow Texan Crenshaw. "You only get some 40 chances to play in majors. Every one you miss is one less opportunity," was the advice imparted by Crenshaw. Luckily, Rogers listened.

Minute-by-minute: Everything was going so swimmingly for Bill Rogers, but now he's wobbling like England's batting at Headingley. Bernhard Langer's birdie on seven is followed by a Rogers double bogey 7 on the same hole, and all of a sudden we have a tournament on our hands. Rogers lead has been slashed from four to one, and he really needs to steady the ship over the next few holes, otherwise he might go the same way as England's Ashes hopes.

What they said: "It was tough going through the crowd. They were so enthusiastic. Then, just as I thought I'd made it, this cop comes and shoves me in the chest. 'Hey, I'm just trying to finish, pal', I told him, and he realised who I was and let me through." Rogers explains his run-in with the long arm of the law on his walk to glory on the 72nd hole.

Misc: Rogers almost missed his tee-time on the first day. Rogers thought he was teeing off at 8:44, and was casually practising on the putting green at 8:21, when Surrey Herald journalist John Whitbread told him that he was in fact starting at 8:22. Rogers got to the first tee with 30 seconds to spare. Rogers also experienced a delay on the final day, held up for nearly half an hour at a level crossing on his way to the course.

No1: Ghost Town, The Specials

1982: Tom Watson (Royal Troon)

In a tweet: Clampett collapses, Price plummets, as Watson sneaks home to win his fourth Claret Jug.

Significant other: Nick Price. Unknown Bobby Clampett led by five shots after two rounds, before a third round 78 brought him back to the field, but it would be Price that made the headlines on the final day. Holding a three shot lead with six holes to go, Price imploded, bogeying the 13th, dropping two shots at the 15th, and dropping another shot at 17. Price's time would come, yet for a while it looked as if the Zimbabwean would forever be remembered for Troon 1982.

Minute-by-minute: Oh dear. We may well have seen a decisive moment in this tournament. At the par-five sixth, Bobby Clampett has found three bunkers, hacking about like, well me, on his way to a triple-bogey 8. His lead is still a healthy four shots, but is the first sign of nerves in the 22-year-old? He is human after all.

What they said: "Nick lost the tournament. He gave it to me. It's a great feeling to win a tournament, but it is a wonderful feeling when you go out and really win it for yourself." Tom Watson reflects on his Open win, and the struggles of Nick Price.

Misc: Tom Watson became the fifth player to win both the US and British Open titles in the same year.

No1: Fame, Irene Cara

1983: Tom Watson (Royal Birkdale)

In a tweet: Tom Watson wins another Open on a thrilling day. Irwin is left to regret his air shot, as Watson wins by 1. Nick Faldo disappoints once more

Significant other: Hale Irwin. Attempting to tap in a one inch putt on the 14th during his third round, Irwin missed the ball completely, his extra air shot proving crucial come the final reckoning. Irwin would lose by just one. "It's the costliest mistake of my life," Irwin admitted. "But it's history now."

Minute-by-minute: Oh my. They say that the cream rises to the top, and that shot from Tom Watson is proof of the theory. Needing a par to win another Open, Watson creams a beautiful two-iron over 200 yards on to the heart of the 18th, and he now has two putts from roughly 20 feet to hold off Irwin and Bean. Magnificent.

What they said: "I had to sweat for it. I feel like I've been through fifteen rounds with Muhammad Ali." Watson expresses his relief after holding on to win on that nerve wracking Sunday.

Misc: This was Watson's fifth Open championship win, his only Claret Jug won outside of Scotland, and his last major. The opening day saw a record first round in the Open (Craig Stadler's 64), an albatross by Bill Rogers, and England's Denis Durnian cover the front nine in just 28 shots. A new Open Championship attendance record was set, with 142,894 people watching the action over the four days.

No1: Wherever I Lay My Heart (That's My Home), Paul Young

1984: Seve Ballesteros (St Andrews)

In a tweet: Baker-Finch fades as Seve/Watson slug it out at the home of golf. Watson's woes on 17 + Seve's birdie on 18 clinches title for the Spaniard

Significant other: Ian Baker-Finch. Leading by three after round two, and co-leader with Watson going into the final day, Baker-Finch immediately ran into trouble on the Sunday. Finding the Swilcan Burn on the first, the Australian slumped to a final round 79, and would have to wait seven years to win the Open and put the nightmare of St Andrews behind him.

Minute-by-minute: Is that game, set and match to Seve? Ballesteros' 12-foot birdie putt on the last breaks from right to left, and for a moment it looks as if it may stay out. But gravity and maybe the force of Seve's personality sees the ball drop, and Seve breaks out into a memorable arm-punching celebration, with a smile that warms the heart. Minutes later, Watson's par putt on 17 slides past, and unless he can miraculously eagle the last, Seve Ballesteros has just won his second Open title.

What they said: "La meti, la meti." The words shouted by Seve Ballesteros after making his putt at 18 (meaning "I put it in").

Misc: The silhouette image of Seve's celebration is still widely used. From the icon used for the Seve Foundation in support of cancer research, to the logo adorning the bags and sleeves of Europe's heroes at the Miracle of Medinah. Another attendance record was set: 187,753.

No1: Two Tribes, Frankie Goes To Hollywood

1985: Sandy Lyle (Royal St George's)

In a tweet: Despite trouble at 18, Lyle ends a 16-year wait for a British champion, after birdies at 14 & 15 prove crucial at a tough Royal St George's.

Significant other: Christy O'Connor Jnr broke the course record with his opening round 64 (-6). Unfortunately, the Irishman would later miss out on Ryder Cup qualification by just £115.89.

Minute-by-minute: Oh, Sandy Lyle, what have you done? Chipping from a fluffy lie at the side of the 18th, Lyle doesn't get quite enough on his third shot, and the ball trickles agonisingly back into Duncan's Hollow and towards a distraught Lyle. Sandy slumps to his knees and bangs his club on the floor, but he needs to recollect himself and make sure he at least gets down in two from here. Let's hope that this won't come back to haunt Lyle later.

What they said: "When Tony threw his ball into the crowd after winning I almost caught it - it landed just a few feet from me. It was at that moment that I decided I wanted to play professional golf, play in the Open - and one day win it." Lyle recounts the tale of how he had watched Tony Jacklin's win at the 1969 Open, and how it had inspired the eleven-year-old Lyle to pursue a career in golf.

Misc: For the first time since 1968, The Open was won with a score over par (Lyle +2). This was the final year of the third round cut that had been in place since 1968. Jose Maria Olazabal won the Silver Medal for top amateur.

No1: There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart), The Eurythmics

1986: Greg Norman (Turnberry)

In a tweet: Greg Norman finally wins his first major, as a blistering second round 63 helps the Great White Shark ease home by five shots.

Significant other: Guy McQuitty. Carded a 95 on the opening day and an 87 on the Friday to end up with a 42 over par total. "I was scared to stand over the ball," McQuitty later revealed, after recording the worst ever 36 hole total in the Open.

Minute-by-minute: Greg Norman stands over a putt at the last for a 61 (yes, 61), but perhaps understandably gets a little carried away. His first putt races past, and he misses the one on the way back, but if you had offered him a 63 earlier he would have signed for it. What a stunning second round this has been, and even with Norman's tendency to find ways of losing majors, the Great White Shark looks like the man to beat this weekend.

What they said: "I've got rid of the monkey that's been on my back and now I hope to go on to win another 10 majors at least." Greg Norman is relieved to break his major duck, and sets his sights on even more titles. But it would be business as usual come the US PGA, with Bob Tway breaking Norman's heart.

Misc: Norman led the Open after 54-holes, as he had done earlier in 1986 at the US Masters, US Open, and would later do at the US PGA, completing what would become known as the Saturday Slam.

No1: Papa Don't Preach, Madonna

1987: Nick Faldo (Muirfield)

In a tweet: A final round of eighteen pars, and a poor finish from Paul Azinger, hands Nick Faldo his elusive first major, justifying his swing changes.

Significant other: Paul Azinger. Leading the Open by one shot with two holes remaining, the US money list leader found sand at both 17 and 18, to hand the Open Championship to "Mr Par-fect".

Minute-by-minute: What must be going on inside the head of Paul Azinger now? His approach shot into the 18th green is pulled, and comes to rest in a tricky looking spot in the greenside bunker. Huge cheers can be heard from the galleries, which isn't ideal, but you can understand their excitement. Nick Faldo's name might, just might, be on this famous old trophy after all.

What they said: "I certainly cannot recall such rank bad sportsmanship and it marred the end of a great championship". R&A chairman Alistair Low apologises to Azinger after the reaction of the crowd left some questioning the partisanship creeping into the sport.

Misc: Wind speeds of 40mph on the Saturday forced the R&A to shorten four holes playing into the wind.

No1: Who's That Girl, Madonna

1988: Seve Ballesteros (Royal Lytham & St Annes)

In a tweet: Abysmal weather forces play into Mon. Price is the bridesmaid once more, losing a classic shoot out to Seve, who wins his 2nd Open at Lytham

Significant other: Nick Price. Runner-up again, but at least this time Price could hold his head up high after a famous battle with Ballesteros. Price finally ended his Open agony in 1994.

Minute-by-minute: Stunning. Absolutely stunning. Ballesteros, with nerves of steel, delicately flicks his chip from the back of the last green on to the putting surface, and his ball inches closer and closer to the pin. At one point it looks like it might drop, but a gentle kiss of the edge of the hole sees Ballesteros' ball come to rest inches from the cup. Price still has an outside chance to tie, but Seve deserves another Claret Jug for that shot alone.

What they said: "Nick Price showed he was a Champion, too. I was just a little bit luckier. It is a pity there can only be one Champion." Seve Ballesteros compliments the runner-up, on a day of high sporting drama.

Misc: For the first time in Open history, the championship would have to be played to a finish on the Monday. This was Ballesteros' fifth and final major win. A new record attendance was set: 205,285.

No1: Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You, Glenn Medeiros

1989: Mark Calcavecchia (Royal Troon)

In a tweet: Another major slips through the fingers of Greg Norman, with Mark Calcavecchia birdieing the 18th twice in a day for his first Open title.

Significant other: Greg Norman. Starting the final day seven shots behind leader Wayne Grady, Norman tore through the course, birdieing the first six holes on his way to a 64 (-8). Unfortunately the story did not have a happy ending, as Norman once more missed out in a play-off.

Minute-by-minute: Oh my! Oh my! Mark Calcavecchia may well have hit a shot that has just won him the Open Championship. From over 200 yards out, the American nips a shot off the trampled down rough and knocks it to four-feet. That will go down as one of the greatest ever shots in this famous old tournament, and if Calcavecchia does win then he deserves to after that. A case of lightning striking twice, after his shot earlier on today to a similar distance which enabled Calcavecchia to get into a play-off.

What they said: "When things like that happen, plus having holed a full eight iron in an earlier round, then you start believing in destiny." Mark Calcavecchia talks about his round on the last day, which included a 40 foot putt for par on the 11th, and a 60 foot pitch that went in on the full on the 12th.

Misc: This was the first Open Championship to use the new play-off format of four holes. It was the first time in six years that the Open had been won by an American.

No1: You'll Never Stop Me From Loving You, Sonia

1 comment:

  1. Apart from Aoki's 63 at Muirfield, have there been any other rounds in professional golf history that have only featured only two different scores for all 18 holes?