92nd Open - Royal Lytham & St Annes 1963
Charles putts for victory
Bob Charles put on one of the finest ever displays of putting in winning the 1963 Open at Royal Lytham. In so doing he became the first New Zealander to win The Open and the first left-hander – the only lefty until Phil Mickelson won exactly 50 years later at Muirfield in 2013. Charles claimed his victory in the last ever 36-hole play-off, beating American Phil Rodgers by eight strokes.
The pair had tied on 277 after Charles had posted a best-of-the-week 66 in the third round to lead by two but Rodgers caught him with a closing 69. Jack Nicklaus, in his second Open, made a rare error at the final hole, a bogey leaving him one stroke outside the play-off but five ahead of Kel Nagle in fourth. Peter Thomson dropped out of contention with an uncharacteristic 78 in the final round.
The play-off protagonists made a contrasting pair, Charles tall and thin as a rake, was a quiet and undemonstrative man. Rodgers was a short, solidly-built ex-Marine who had a habit of racing across the green and slamming his cap over the hole when a long putt dropped. Most of the putts dropped for Charles. He made 11 single-putts in the morning round of the play-off. Seven times he got up and down from rough or bunkers.
Three ahead at lunch and soon five in front, Charles hooked out of bounds onto the railway line at the third in the afternoon and then Rodgers made a couple of birdies to get within one. But his second at the seventh finished under the face of a greenside bunker and his challenge faded. Charles relentlessly kept holing putts to pull away again. In his rounds of 69-71 Charles had 56 putts. Rodgers totaled 65 putts in rounds of 72-76.
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