97th Open - Carnoustie 1968
Gary Player takes The Open title after tough final round battle
Gary Player hit one of the greatest shots of his career to win the 1968 Open at Carnoustie and claim the Claret Jug for a second time. It came at the par-5 14th hole, named the “Spectacles” for a pair of bunkers that pinch into each side of the fairway 70 yards from the green. Player eagled the hole in both his last two rounds, using a 2-iron in the third round but on the final day the hole was playing into a teeth of a gale. With all his might, the South African swung a 3-wood and struck the ball so well that it never wavered in the wind and finished two feet from the hole. Player won by two strokes from former Champions Jack Nicklaus and Bob Charles.
Carnoustie proved a formidable test, at 7,252 yards the longest course yet used for The Open. Amateur Michael Bonallack and Brian Barnes shared the lead on the first day, while the second round saw the only sub-70 scores of the week, a 69 by Nicklaus and a 68 from Billy Casper, who led by four strokes. Casper was a two-time US Open Champion but was playing in The Open for the first time. With a round to play his lead was one over Charles and two over Player but a 78, including a 6 at the 14th, drop him to fourth place. Charles closed with a 76, while Nicklaus and Player both had 73s, with the South African posting a one-over-par total of 289 after earlier rounds of 74, 71 and 71.
Player’s second Open title was his fifth Major win, the South African having completed the career Grand Slam at the 1965 US Open. For the first time, a 54-hole cut was introduced leaving 45 players for the final round.