Daly wins with power and precision
It was not just his awesome power, but the delicacy and precision of his short game, that allowed John Daly to win the 1995 Open at St Andrews. But he had to go into overtime to claim the ancient trophy, thanks to a last gasp birdie putt from the Valley of Sin that put genial Italian Costantino Rocca into a play-off. Rocca came to the 18th hole in the final round needing a birdie to tie the big-hitting American.
He drove close to the left side of the green, but a sand-wedge pitch was completely miss-hit and dribbled into the deep hollow at the front of the green. His putt climbed the steep bank, raced across the green and fell into the hole 65 feet away. Rocca fell face down on the turf in a moment of joyous relief and disbelief.
There was a sense of anti-climax at the first extra hole when Rocca three putted, and when Daly holes for a birdie at the second he established a commanding two-shot lead as they moved across to the tee of the notorious 17th. Daly hit a tremendous tee shot some 330 yards into the narrowest neck of the fairway and crafted a closed-faced nine-iron pitch and run into the centre of the green. Rocca had to go for the pin and fell victim to the Road Hole bunker. He needed three attempts to gain the putting surface and his chances of the title had vanished.
This 25th Open at St Andrews also marked the end of an era. Arnold Palmer was making his final appearance in the championship 35 years after he first played, in the Centenary Open of 1960. His determination to win the title inspired a new generation of golfers and was instrumental in reviving the fortunes of the world’s oldest championship.