104th Open - Carnoustie 1975
Tense play-off decides Open
Tom Watson joined Ben Hogan (1953) and Tony Lema (1964) as the only winners of The Open on debut since WWII. Having had chances to win the previous two US Opens, there had been doubts about the ability of the man from Kansas to win at the highest level, but they proved unfounded. He would come to dominate The Open with five victories in nine years and claimed eight Major titles in all.
David Huish, the club professional from North Berwick, held the halfway lead with rounds of 69 and 67. Sadly, he closed with scores of 76 and 80 to tie for 32nd place. With conditions calm and sunny, South Africa’s Bobby Cole had two rounds of 66 on the second and third days, while Jack Newton broke the day-old course record with a 65 in the third round to lie one behind Cole, with Watson two shots further back.
In the wind of the final day, Watson went out in 35 but then had three three-putts in a row. Johnny Miller led playing the last but took a bogey while Watson holed from 15 feet for a birdie. Cole needed a birdie at the last to tie but could only join Miller and Jack Nicklaus in a share of third place, while Newton parred to tie Watson on 11 under par after missing from 20 feet for the victory.
Sunday’s play-off in the rain was a tight affair which the 25-year-old Watson won 71-72. They were tied playing the last but the Australian bunkered his approach and missed from 18 feet to match Watson’s par. It was the last 18-hole play-off in The Open, with a four-hole format later adopted, while Carnoustie would have to wait until 1999 to host The Open again.