Argentinian De Vicenzo Takes The Open Title In Style
For the tenth time, The Open was played over the links at Hoylake. The third and fourth holes had been altered in preparation and the hot, dry and windless days prior to the competition produced a fast course.
Excellent conditions prevailed on the first day of play and it was British players who took the lead. Lionel Platts had a confident round of 68 with David Bonthron, Jim Hume, Peter Jones and Jack Wilkshire finishing on 69. The favourites Christy O’Connor, Roberto de Vicenzo and 1960 Champion, Kel Nagle were not far off the pace on 70 and close behind were Doug Sanders, Peter Thomson and Jack Nicklaus on 71. The young UK hopeful Clive Clark had an excellent round of 70.
The second day’s play saw most of the first round leaders fall back, and the big names move into contention. Nicklaus made more putts than the previous day and scored 69 for an aggregate of 140 and a share of the lead with Bruce Devlin going into the third round. Player found a bunker at the 16th and took six for the hole but finished with 71, in joint 4th position. De Vicenzo was only one shot behind the leaders and Tony Jacklin redeemed his first round score of 73 with a 69 to go one stroke behind him on 142. Despite the excellent playing conditions, only nine players finished under par 144 and it was clear that there was still everything to play for.
Thunderstorms drenched the course the night before the third round, adding to the excitement that built up during the day. Player, despite continuing putting problems, blazed round in 67 to set a new course record. Just 30 minutes later, de Vicenzo managed the same feat. Nicklaus was disappointed with his 71. Devlin started smoothly but found a greenside bunker at the 14th, where his ball became almost buried in the wet sand. His game didn’t recover and he scored 72, both he and Nicklaus moving down the table. It was clearly de Vicenzo’s day. The crowd quickly adopted the Argentinian as their favourite. He went into the fourth round in the lead on 208, with Player only two strokes behind. Nicklaus was three shots behind while Clark and Devlin still very much in contention four strokes behind.
Hopes were high for Player on the final day, but he was unlucky at the first hole, scoring a bogey. Nicklaus and de Vicenzo also dropped early shots. Nicklaus mounted a strong challenge half way through his round, with birdies at the 7th and 8th holes to go six under, leaving de Vicenzo only two shots ahead. Player birdied the 9th but had a bogey at the 10th from which he was unable to recover, and his challenge was over. Par for Nicklaus at the 14th was met with a birdie by de Vicenzo, who stayed a step ahead for the remainder of their rounds. Nicklaus managed a strong finish, with a birdie at the 18th but by this point it was too late. His final round of 69 was only enough for second place, while Player’s disappointing 74 meant that he shared 3rd position with Clive Clark on 284. De Vicenzo, however, finished in excellent style. At the 16th, he hit a magnificent 3 wood over the out of bounds to land on the heart of the green. A birdie at that hole was followed by a par at the 17th. Safely on the green at the 18th in two, he made no mistakes with his putting and a par four meant that he finished with a round score of 70 and a total of 278, winning the Open title by two strokes. In six previous Opens he had finished in either second or third position, but this time the title was his.