Four ways to win The Open at Royal Troon
Every Champion Golfer of the Year has something in common - he shoots the lowest score of the week.
But each victor has his own tale to tell, a secret behind his success. Here are four of the best stories behind the winners in the history of THE OPEN at Royal Troon.
1950 – Bobby Locke avoids the rough
The South African was famed for his remarkable putting which was both unorthodox (he hit the ball with hook spin) and also very good. Indeed, he proved as much by never once three-putting in 1950.
But that year Troon’s fairways were bone dry and e the course’s main defence. So it was from the tee that Locke would secure victory.
Twelve months earlier he had become the first South African to win THE OPEN, at Royal St George’s, and he successfully defended his title by missing the short grass from the tee just twice throughout the entire week.
1973 - Weiskopf’s serenity
That Tom Weiskopf had a magnificent swing was a given, but it was also widely accepted that his hot temper didn’t help him translate promise into victory at the Major Championships.
Just like Bobby Locke in 1950, Weiskopf didn’t record even one three-putt during his victory march across Troon in 1973. But, as with Locke, another factor mattered and the key for Weiskopf was his unruffled state of mind.
“Nothing bothered me, which was unusual,” the new Champion Golfer of the Year admitted afterwards. “I was so confident; everything seemed to take place in slow motion.”
1997 - Leonard wins it on the greens
If putting had contributed to the victories of Locke and Weiskopf, it was integral to Justin Leonard’s triumph in 1997.
Trailing by five strokes heading into the final round, the American blazed a trail across Royal Troon’s putting surfaces to complete a three-shot win, capping off a front nine performance that saw him convert no less than six birdie opportunities.
On the back nine his putter rescued pars from ten feet on the 11th and fifteen feet on the 15th, before he drained a fifteen footer on 16th for birdie. He sunk one from twice that distance on 17th for yet another par breaker. The ice cool Texan had tamed Royal Troon’s pure greens.
2004 - Hamilton’s rescue mission
A 14-time winner on the Japan and Asian Tours, America’s Todd Hamilton had added the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic in early 2004 and yet he was still unknown to most golf fans around the world ahead of the Championship.
By the end of the week he had changed that perception using a club that was, at the time, something of a novelty and which he used in an even more unusual fashion.
He used his hybrid club conventionally from the tee and the fairways, but in practice he hit on the idea of using it from off, and even on, the greens. It became the ultimate utility club and he even used it so save par - and clinch the Championship - on the final hole of his four-hole play-off with Ernie Els.