Past Open champions at Royal Birkdale
Royal Birkdale will host The Open this year for the ninth time. Take a look back at the impressive roster of champions to hoist the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale.
1954: Peter Thomson
Thomson began his run of three straight Open victories by capturing his first Claret Jug at Birkdale by one stroke over South African legend Bobby Locke. Thomson, then just 24 years old, became the first Australian to win The Open and the youngest champion since Bobby Jones.
1961: Arnold Palmer
A year after his run for a modern Grand Slam ended with a one-stroke loss to Kel Nagle at St. Andrews, Palmer won his first Claret Jug at Birkdale. Palmer became the first American to win The Open since Ben Hogan in 1953. Palmer defended his title the following year at Troon and helped revitalize The Open’s popularity.
1965: Peter Thomson
Thomson won the Claret Jug five times, with his first and final Open titles both at Birkdale. The knock on Thomson’s record was most of his Open wins came against weaker fields since not all of the top players made the journey to the UK due mostly to financial constraints. By 1965, however, that wasn’t the case. Thomson held off a field that included Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and defending champion Tony Lema to become one of four players with five or more Open wins.
1971: Lee Trevino
Less than a month after he defeated Jack Nicklaus in a playoff at the U.S. Open at Merion, Trevino won his first Open title at in the 100th edition at Birkdale. Trevino joined Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen andBen Hogan as the only players to win the U.S. Open and Open titles in the same year. Tom Watson and Tiger Woods would later join the exclusive group of Americans. Trevino retained the Claret Jug the following year at Muirfield.
1976: Johnny Miller
As he was known to do, Miller went low and couldn’t be caught, winning his lone Claret Jug at Birkdale by six strokes over Jack Nicklaus and a 19-yearold Seve Ballesteros. Two behind the young Spaniard heading into the final round, Miller lit up Birkdale with a closing 66 to easily win his second major title.
1983: Tom Watson
At just 33 years old, Watson won his fifth Open title at Birkdale after capturing the Claret Jug at Carnoustie (1975), Turnberry (1977), Muirfield (1980) and Royal Troon (1982). In his only Open win outside of Scotland, Watson joined Thomson, J.H. Taylor and James Braid with five Claret Jugs, one behind Harry Vardon. It was also Watson’s eighth and final major title.
1991: Ian Baker-Finch
Two over par after the opening two rounds, Baker-Finch won his lone major title with a scorching 64-66 run over the weekend – including a front-nine 29 on Sunday - to win by two strokes over Mike Harwood at Birkdale.
1998: Mark O’Meara
Inspired by his friend Tiger Woods, O’Meara revitalized his career at 41 years old and won the Masters and the Open at Birkdale in 1998 to become the oldest player to win two majors in a single season. O’Meara battled journeyman Brian Watts in the final round and eventually defeated the 54-hole leader in a playoff.
2008: Padraig Harrington
Starting the final round two strokes behind 53-year-old Greg Norman, Harrington fired a 1-under 69 to win his second Open title in a row. The defending champion nearly withdrew prior to the tournament due to a wrist injury, but he battled through to win by four strokes over Ian Poulter.