88th Open - Murifield 1959
Player wins his first major title
When Gary Player drove into a bunker on the 18th hole and took a double-bogey 6, he left the course distraught, thinking he had thrown away a chance to win The Open for the first time. Yet when Player returned from the Marine Hotel in North Berwick, attired in jacket and tie and far more composed, he watched as each challenger attempted to beat his total of 284 – and failed.
Player emerged the Champion by two strokes from Fred Bullock, the club professional at the Prestwick St Ninians Club who had led for the first three rounds, and Flory van Donck. The South African, who was fourth on his debut in 1956, had been eight strokes off the lead going into the last 36 holes on the final day. In the morning Player’s 70, to Bullock’s 74, brought him within four of the lead and a 68 in the afternoon was more than enough, despite the last-hole disaster.
On that final day he had out-scored Bullock by ten strokes and van Donck, who had a pair of 73s, by eight. Van Donck was playing in his last Open, 21 years after his first, and was a runner-up for the second time in four years. In fact, in his last five appearances, the Belgian, who did everything in European golf bar win The Open, was second twice and fifth on the other three times. For Player it was the first of three Open triumphs and of nine Major titles in all.
No American golfer made the cut, as none of the stars had travelled from the States, but there was a strong amateur showing with Scotland’s Reid Jack finishing fifth, England’s Michael Bonallack 11th and Guy Wolstenholme in 16th place after holing a 2-iron shot at the final hole.
|2||Flory VAN DONCK||BEL||70||70||73||73||286|
|5||Christy O'CONNOR SR||IRL||73||74||72||69||288|
|5||Robert Reid JACK (A)||GBR||71||75||68||74||288|