2010 British Open: Top 10 Moments in Open History

Ron FurlongAnalyst IIJuly 14, 2010

TURNBERRY - JULY 23:  Jack Nicklaus of the USA and Tom Watson of the USA stand beside the commerative plaque on the 18th tee on the Ailsa Course which was renamed today in honour of their 'Duel in the Sun' in the 1977 Open Championship which took place on the Ailsa Course prior to the Senior British Open presented by Mastercard held on July 23, 2003 on the Ailsa Course at The Westin Turnberry Resort, in Turnberry, Scotland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images

As the British Open pulls in to St. Andrews once again, it seems like the perfect time to reflect on some of the great moments in the history of 'The Open.'

From the first Open played in 1860 through last year's incredible runner-up performance by 59-year-old Tom Watson, this tournament has had some of the greatest stories in golf history.

And what better place to take a glance at golf history than a year in which 'The Open' once again is played on the sacred grounds of The Old Course.

Although it wasn't easy narrowing this list down to 10, here are the 10 greatest moments in British Open history.

10. 1860—The first 'Open'

The first Open was played 150 years ago at Prestwick Golf Club in Ayrshire, Scotland. The field for the first 'Open' was limited to professionals only, and a field of eight Scottish pros battled it out for the championship.

Willie Park Senior defeated the favorite Old Tom Morris by two strokes, and the British Open was off and running.

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9. 2007—Harrington Wins

Padraig Harrington became the first Irishman to win 'The Open' in 60 years when he won in a playoff. Sergio Garcia seemed to have the tournament won, but let a big lead slip and lost in the playoff.

8. 2000—Tiger Slam

When Tiger Woods won at St. Andrews in 2000, it was his fourth consecutive major title. With the British Open title, Woods held all four major trophies at the same time. The Tiger Slam.

Woods won by a remarkable eight shots in 2000.

7. 1862—Old Tom Morris Routes Field

One of golf's early legends, Old Tom Morris won four 'Opens.' But perhaps the most memorable was 1862 when he won by an incredible 13 shots at Prestwick.

6. 2009—Watson's Near Miracle

Without a doubt, this would be No. 1 on the list had Tom Watson made his nine-foot putt on the 18th hole on Sunday a year ago at Turnberry.

Of course he didn't, and then went on to lose in a playoff to Stewart Cink. At 59 years old, this was still one of the great stories in all of sports, even with the second-place finish instead of his sixth 'Open' title.

5. 1953—Ben Hogan

After a near-fatal car accident in 1949, Hogan was told he may never walk again. He not only walked again, but he won the British Open in 1953 by four shots.

4. 1999—The Great French Collapse

Of all the great collapses in major golf history, none is greater than Frenchman Jean Van de Velde's meltdown in 1999 at Carnoustie.

Van de Velde needed nothing more than a double bogey on the last hole to win the trophy. For some reason he hit driver off the tee despite the three-shot lead, and the rest is history as he triple bogied the hole and lost in a playoff to Paul Lawrie.

3. 1984—Seve Over Tom

Watson and Ballesteros had battled all day long at St. Andrews, never more than a shot separating the two.

It appeared Watson was going to finally win at St. Andrews to add the famous course to his great British Open resume. But as Watson was getting a bogey on the road hole number 17, Seve was getting a birdie on 18 at about the same time, and the championship was the Spaniard's.

2. 1930—The Jones Slam

With his win at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in 1930, Bobby Jones won his third and final 'Open' title. But more importantly, it completed the 'Slam' for Jones. Back then the Grand Slam was the U.S. Open, the British Open, the U.S. Amateur, and the British Amateur. Jones held them all in 1930.

1. 1977—The Duel in the Sun

Probably the best finish to a major championship ever.

Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus battled it out at Turnberry in 1977. They had buried the rest of the field as they played together on Sunday. All eyes were on the two Americans.

Watson had finally gone ahead of Jack on the 17th hole. Watson hit a one iron on the 18th and scorched the ball down the middle of the fairway. Nicklaus found the rough, and it appeared it was over. But Jack hacked his ball out of the thicket and found the green, then sank a miraculous 35-foot putt for birdie. Watson however had hit his second shot a foot and a half from the pin, and although Jack's long birdie putt had put some pressure on Watson's tap-in, Tom nailed it, hoisting the Claret Jug once more.

Here's hoping this year's 'Open' at St. Andrews makes the next list.

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