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British Open 2012: Power Ranking Most Exciting Moments in Tournament History

Josh SchochAnalyst IIIJune 24, 2016

British Open 2012: Power Ranking Most Exciting Moments in Tournament History

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    The 2012 British Open promises to bring thrilling moments with it, but before the action tees off, let's take a walk down memory lane and rank the best moments in tournament history.

    The Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club has been home to some incredible action. In the tournament's 152-year history, dating back to 1860, there have been some unbelievable moments that defy logic.

    In this lengthy history, these are the top moments at the British Open.

Honorable Mentions

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    With so many great moments, these are the honorable mentions in order of when they happened:

    The First Open (1860)

    Young Tom Morris (1870)

    Walter Hagen becomes the first American to win the British Open (1922)

    Bobby Jones' 17th hole (1926)

    Arnold Palmer kick-starts a new era for golf (1961)

    Sanders falls short against Jack Nicklaus (1970)

    Lee Trevino's fifth fluke (1972)

    Gene Sarazen's eighth hole (1973)

    Maurice Flitcroft's record (1976)

    Bill Rogers at Birkdale (1983)

    Nick Faldo at Muirfield (1992)

    Nick Price's 17th hole (1994)

    Ernie Els' final round (2002)

    Ben Curtis' putt (2003)

    Greg Norman defies logic (2008)

    Watson proves age is just a number...almost (2009)

10. Seve's Recovery (1979)

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    Seve Ballesteros was a risky player, and he never shied away and settled for an easy shot.

    It looked like that would be his downfall at the 1979 British Open.

    Ballesteros was ahead by three strokes heading into the 16th hole on Sunday. He looked poised to win the event, but a poor drive looked like trouble.

    His shot ended up 70 yards to the right of the fairway, and landed under a parked car. After being given a free drop, he struck what seemed to be an impossible chip and landed just 20 feet away from the hole.

    After sinking a tough putt, he finished with a birdie after one of the worst shots of his career, and clinched his first Major championship.

9. The Tiger Slam (2000)

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    Tiger Woods was becoming one of the best golfers in history in 2000 when he played in the British Open. However, he did not cement his place among them until after the event.

    As golf said goodbye to legend Jack Nicklaus, Tiger looked on, and he prepared himself for a huge victory. Woods looked to win his first Open Championship, and complete his career Grand Slam.

    He blew away the competition with a record-breaking 19 strokes under-par and winning by eight strokes over Thomas Bjorn and Ernie Els.

    Woods finally won all four Majors and did so in historic fashion. He dominated the course and his competition, and proved that he was the best in the world.

8. The Luck of the Irish (2007)

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    Padraig Harrington was the luckiest man in the world on Sunday of the 2007 British Open.

    Entering the final round, Harrington was six strokes back of Sergio Garcia, who looked to lose his title of the highest ranked golfer never to win a Major. However, with a comeback that can only be described as the luck of the Irish, he fought his way back into the mix.

    Harrington came back, but then double-bogeyed on the last hole, leaving the door wide open for Garcia. However, Garcia hit a bunker and two-putted to send the pair to a four-hole playoff.

    During the playoff Harrington eventually won, and he became the first Irishman to win the event in six decades.

7. Rocca and Daly Go Back and Forth (1995)

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    Costantino Rocca and John Daly put on one heck of a show during the 1995 British Open. The two went back and forth during the entire round on Sunday.

    The two were not paired together, but they certainly had an eye on the leaderboard. Daly was the leader in the clubhouse, and Rocca certainly gave him hope to win the event.

    On the 17th hole, Rocca needed a par. His tee shot hit the cart path behind the green, leaving him with a tough shot to keep his hopes alive. He somehow struck it well, ending up within six feet of the hole and nailed the putt to head to the 18th.

    Again, he gave Daly hope on the 18th, as a poor approach as seen in the video above left him more than 60 feet from the cup. Miraculously, he sunk the shot and forced a playoff.

    However, Rocca struggled in the bunker during the playoff and Daly just needed to tap in to clinch the title. All in all, this was an epic finish to the tournament.

6. Ballesteros and Watson Play Tit for Tat

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    Seve Ballesteros and Tom Watson were another pair that were not together entering the final day of play, but they put on a show.

    The two could not gain separation on one another, as neither led by more than a single stroke throughout the day. The two went back and forth in a crucial game of tit for tat to lock up the Open Championship.

    Watson looked like he was poised for a victory at St. Andrew's as he began the 17th hole as Ballesteros played the 18th. However, it was not to be, as an incredible development occurred.

    Just as Watson bogeyed the 17th, Ballesteros birdied the 18th at almost the exact same time. This left Watson stunned, and he fell off the pace. He couldn't regain his lead on the final hole, and the Italian, Ballesteros, won the event.

5. The Morris Major (1862)

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    Old Tom Morris was the first great player in golf history, and none of his accomplishments was more impressive than his showing at the third-ever Open Championship in Scotland in 1862.

    Morris dominated from start to finish, and won by an incredible 13 strokes.

    That was the largest margin of victory at a Major until Tiger Woods broke it at the 2000 U.S. Open (15 strokes). The record stood for an incredible 138 years, and it remains one of the most dominant performances in history.

4. Ben Hogan Defies the Odds (1953)

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    Ben Hogan did the impossible at the 1953 British Open, proving doctors wrong in jaw-dropping fashion.

    After suffering a near-fatal car crash in 1949, after which he spent 59 days in the hospital. The doctors told him that he may never walk again.

    However, he proved them wrong, and just four years later he was playing in the Open Championship. This alone was an incredible feat in itself, but he did not just play—he won.

    Hogan walked away from the Open winning by four strokes, and posting one of the most impressive victories in any sport in history.

3. Jones' Unparalleled Success (1930)

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    Bobby Jones was one of golf's best. From the age of 6, he began winning on a national level, and he reached unparalleled success during the 1930 British Open.

    During a time when the British and U.S. Opens and Amateur championships were the four parts of the Grand Slam, Jones won all four.

    In a row.

    During the 1930 season, Jones took home all four championships, making him the first player to do so in a single calendar year. While Tiger Woods won four in a row over two years, Jones won all four in 1930.

    Jones remains the last player to ever do so, and it would take a miracle to see it happen again.

2. Jean Van De Velde Goes Bonkers (1999)

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    Jean Van de Velde had the Open Championship wrapped up. He was about to become just the second Frenchman to win the event, and the first since Arnaud Massy.

    Van de Velde was up by three strokes heading into the 18th hole, and just needed a double-bogey to win the event.

    However, what ensued can be described as nothing short of idiotic.

    Van de Velde decided that he didn't have to play it safe. After making poor decision after poor decision and eventually taking off his shoes and stepping into the water before taking a drop, Van de Velde lost his lead, and entered a four-hole playoff.

    Needless to say, he lost.

1. The Duel in the Sun (1977)

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    Under the hot sun of Scotland, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson matched each other through two rounds to dispose of the field at the 1977 British Open.

    Tied at six under, they entered Saturday in the same pair, and went stroke for stroke once again. After each recording a score of 65, they were tied at 13 under par on Sunday.

    The two matched each other through the first 16 holes of the final round, and the Open Championship came down to the final two holes.

    Watson finally broke the tie on the 17th hole, taking a one stroke lead over Nicklaus as the two entered the final hole.

    Battling both the heat and each other, the 18th hole was filled with drama.

    Watson hit a great drive, while Nicklaus hit the rough. Watson then chipped to within a few feet of the hole, which seemed to clinch him the victory. However, Nicklaus isn't one of the best golfers in history for nothing, and he hit his ball onto the green and nailed a 35 foot putt to put the pressure on Watson.

    Shockingly, Nicklaus helped to quiet the crowd and help his opponent win, and the two walked together to the scorer's table.

    By a combination of both sportsmanship and impressive play, this may have been the best finish to a Major in history, and it is certainly the best at the Open Championship.

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