Weiskopf’s slow-motion triumph
When Tom Weiskopf arrived at Troon for the 1973 Open he possessed one of the game’s most elegant and powerful swings, a reputation as the finest golfer not to win a major — and an explosive temperament with a short fuse. After opening rounds of 68 and 67 he stayed clear of the field throughout a week of rain. He later recalled: ‘I made very few mistakes and nothing bothered me — which was unusual. I was at the top of my game and finally felt how a Jack Nicklaus, or a Tiger Woods, feels. I was so confident, everything seemed in slow motion — my thinking, my preparations. It was my greatest memory in tournament golf.’
His closest challenge came from US Open champion Johnny Miller and Britain’s Ryder Cup stalwart Neil Coles, but they could come no closer than three shots behind his 276 winning total. Coles finished with a 66 and fourth placed Jack Nicklaus with a 65 after dropping himself from a realistic chance of the title with a third round 76.
But while Weiskopf was claiming his only major victory, many were still talking about the exploits of 71-year-old Gene Sarazen in the first round as he made a nostalgic return to Troon 50 years after his appearance there in the 1923 Championship. He described the moment graphically: ‘For many years the Postage Stamp hole had haunted me; I feared it, so when I walked on to the tee and faced the wind, I must admit I was somewhat nervous. I selected my five-iron as I was determined not to be short. When the crowd roared and I reaslised the ball was in the hole, I felt there was no better way to close the books on my tournament play than to make a hole-in-one on the Postage Stamp and call it quits.’ The following day he bunkered his tee shot and holed the recovery for a two.