91st Open - Royal Troon 1962
Palmer's victory signals a new era
Arnold Palmer had attracted large galleries when he played at St Andrews and Royal Birkdale but even bigger crowds swarmed over Troon as the wildly popular American defended his title in 1962. Palmer also encouraged some of his countrymen to make the trip over, including Gene Littler, Phil Rodgers and 22-year-old US Open Champion Jack Nicklaus. On his debut, Nicklaus had a 10 at the 11th and rounds of 80 and 79 in finishing 34th but thereafter he would rarely be out of the top-three for the next couple of decades.
Troon’s fairways were sun-baked and running fast, much to Palmer’s liking. He did not hold back from his attacking style, not even at the dangerous par-5 11th, with the railway line close to the right side of the fairway. He made two birdies and an eagle in the second round when he hit a 1-iron off the tee and then a 2-iron to 14 feet.
Rounds of 71 and 69 put Palmer two ahead of Kel Nagle, the 1960 Champion. A 67 in the third round put Palmer five clear and he birdied the last for a closing 69 to win by six from the Australian. Rodgers and Brain Huggett shared third place a whopping 13 strokes behind the Champion.
Palmer’s winning total of 276 beat the old record by two shots and would not be bettered until 1977. He became only the second player after Ben Hogan in 1953 to win the Masters and The Open in the same year. He did not win the Claret Jug again but had helped re-establish the game’s oldest Championship as also the most important.