103rd Open - Royal Lytham & St Annes 1974
Third title for Gary Player
Gary Player won his first Open at Muirfield in 1959 and his second at Carnoustie in 1968. With his triumph at Royal Lytham in 1974 he shared with Harry Vardon the distinction of claiming the title in three separate decades. A quarter of a century after his first Major win, he had added an eighth and was showing he still had an abundance of enthusiasm and dedication to produce his very best golf – he was the fourth player after Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus to win the Masters and The Open in the same year.
For the first time in The Open it was compulsory to play with the larger 1.68in ball, which had been used in America for many years and was less easy to control in the wind than the smaller ball. Inevitably, the wind blew on the first two days at Lytham. Player had an opening 69 to share the first-round lead with John Morgan and then moved ahead with a 68 on the second day. None of the other leading finishers broke 70 on either day. A 75 on the third day left Player still ahead of the field, with England’s Peter Oosterhuis three behind.
An eagle, three birdies and two bogeys in the first seven holes kept the chasing pack at bay but Oosterhuis almost got back within one at the 13th only for Player to chip in from the back of the green for a birdie. Three bogeys in the last four holes – there was a long search for his ball in the rough at the 17th and he had to putt left-handed with his ball inches from the clubhouse wall at the last – gave him a 70 and a four-stroke win over Oosterhuis, with Jack Nicklaus pipping Hubert Green for fourth place thanks to a birdie at the last.
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