105th Open - Royal Birkdale 1976
Miller and Ballesteros battle for the title
Johnny Miller was playing the best golf of anyone in the world when he won The Open in 1976. The blond American had been second and third in the previous three years and won the US Open in 1973 with a record closing round of 63. At Royal Birkdale he finished with a 66 that took him from two behind to six ahead of the field. He played supreme golf and yet even he would accept that it was a week when a new star was born – Seve Ballesteros. The 19-year-old Spaniard was relatively unknown to the public but made a lasting impression by playing an outrageous chip-and-run between a couple of bunkers at the last to secure second place alongside Jack Nicklaus.
Amid the heatwave British summer, Ballesteros shared the lead on day one with Christy O’Connor Jnr, who went to the turn in 29, and Japan’s Norio Suzuki. Five birdies coming home on the second day put Seve two ahead of Miller. In strong winds on the third day, which saw defending Champion Tom Watson score an 80, both Ballesteros and Miller scored 73s, the youngster losing the lead early on but rallying in wild but inspired fashion on the way home helped by an eagle at the 17th.
Ballesteros birdied the first hole of the final round to go three ahead but there was a two-shot swing to the American at the next and the Spaniard suffered a double bogey at the sixth and a triple bogey at the 11th. Miller could relax and produced his best golf with a birdie at the 12th, an eagle at the 13th and birdies at the last two holes for the third day running. Ballesteros followed suit with three birdies and an eagle another at the 17th before he he brought the house down at the last.
|5||Christy O'CONNOR JR||IRL||69||73||75||71||288|