The Story of The 136th Open at Carnoustie
In the penultimate instalment of our historical features on The Open at Carnoustie, we look back at the last Open held on the Angus links and another dramatic conclusion to The Open.
If The Open history teaches you anything at Carnoustie it is to expect the unexpected. And a ticket to the 18th grandstand is your prized pass to witness history unfold through disbelieving eyes.
After a 24-year absence, The Open returned to these fabled links in 1999 and produced a championship that will forever be remembered for its dramatic conclusion. Surely it couldn’t happen again? Could it?
Eight years after Jean Van der Velde’s dramatic visit to Barry Burn, Padraig Harrington also learned how Carnoustie’s 18th can bite - even if he survived to tell the tale.
In a gripping final round - with so many similarities to Paul Lawrie’s triumph in 1999 - Harrington lost a one-shot lead on the 72nd hole by hitting into the Barry Burn - not once, but twice. He trudged off with a double bogey - secured by a nerveless clutch putt - on his card, his hopes of becoming the Champion Golfer seemingly gone.
Sergio Garcia followed him down the last with a one-shot lead, but he couldn’t make par from a greenside bunker and a play-off followed.
Harrington duly secured a two-shot lead in four extra holes and when it came to his fifth visit of the week to the 18th, he played it safe. He took a hybrid off the tee to lay up short of Barry Burn with his second and The Claret Jug was duly his.
Harrington’s victory ended a 60-year wait for an Irish winner, Northern Ireland’s Fred Daly winning in 1947 the last.
"It's going to take a long time for it to sink in,” said Harrington, who retained the title at Royal Birkdale in 2008. "I know it was only a short putt, but the emotions of it,” he said. “I couldn't believe it as it was rolling in from right in the middle of the hole, and I'm thinking, ‘that Claret Jug is mine’.”
Garcia admitted he took his defeat hard and it took some time to recover. In 2007 he was considered the best golfer in the world without a major. Little did anyone think it would be another ten years before he finally claim one of his sport’s big prizes. "I should write a book on how not to miss a shot and not win a playoff,” he said.
Join us at The 147th Open at Carnoustie this July as the world’s best compete for the Claret Jug and the title of Champion