Rogers’ accuracy brings rich reward
Bill Rogers was only persuaded to enter the 1981 Open by his close Texan friend Ben Crenshaw. Rogers had won an early season event on the American tour and then finished second in the US Open. He knew little of the course at Royal St George’s where the Open was returning for the first time since 1949.
The huge gap was caused by the lack of hotel accommodation in the area, narrow country lanes and increasing dependence on motor cars. The building of a new road system opened the way for the championship to return. By the end of the week he was to prove that accuracy rather than power was the key to the tough links.
At the start of the final round he held a five-stroke lead after rounds of 72-66-67. He was keeping a safe distance ahead of main challengers Bernhard Langer and Raymond Floyd when he fell foul of the par-5 seventh, missing the green with his third shot and dropping two strokes. This allowed Langer to close the gap to one, with Floyd just a further shot away.
But Rogers quickly regained his composure and re-established a healthy lead with birdies at the ninth and 10th, finally finishing with a four-under-par total of 276, four shots clear of Langer and seven ahead of Floyd.