My Greatest Shot
Nick Price
/
Turnberry 1994

While Ben Stokes’ Cricket World Cup heroics and Sergio Aguero’s Premier League-winning strike may spring to mind, when it comes to dramatic sporting conclusions, few events can rival The Open’s embarrassment of riches.

Whether it be Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson’s fourth-round duel in 2016 or Jean van de Velde’s infamous conclusion in 1999, John Daly’s playoff glory in 1995 or Ernie Els’ comeback in 2012; golf’s oldest major has seen more than its fair share of the late and the great.

And while Nick Price may well have hoped to add to that canon on the 17th at Turnberry back in 1994, hope was all he had in his locker as he pulled the putter out of his bag, staring 50 feet towards the hole that would seal his fate – even he could not have known what would happen next.

The background

Widely regarded today as one of the greatest golfers of the 1990s, for a time Price’s shot at the Claret Jug looked to have passed him by.

Second-place finishes in 1982 and 1988 were agonising for the Zimbabwean; final-round leads spurned to Tom Watson and Seve Ballesteros respectively saw Price’s confidence take a hit, as he went nearly eight years without a win on the PGA Tour between 1983-1991.

But all that changed at the turn of the decade: he ended the drought with victory at the GTE Byron Nelson Classic in Dallas, before sealing a maiden major the following year with triumph at the PGA Championship.

And from there, Price never looked back, hitting his stride with eight tournament wins in less than two years, and when The 123rd Open rolled around in 1994, the 37-year-old was ranked as one of the hot favourites – in spite of his travails at majors.

Nick Price with Seve Ballesteros and Sir Nick Faldo.

Turnberry calling

It was a solid, if unspectacular start to life on the South Ayrshire course for Price, who missed the Championship the last time Turnberry had hosted back in 1986.

He followed an opening round of 69 with a 66 on day two, shooting himself into contention and a top-five position heading into the weekend.

A 67 on the Saturday left him a shot off Brad Faxon and Fuzzy Zoeller in the lead heading into the final 18, alongside Jesper Parnevik and former scourge Watson.

It was the young Swede who hit the front on Sunday, however, leaving the American trio of Faxon, Zoeller and Watson in his wake as he opened up a two-shot lead playing nigh-on flawless golf with just four holes to go.

A bogey on 15 for the man playing in only his second Open offered a crack of hope to Price, following on in the group behind, who birdied on 16 before Parnevik responded in-kind on the long par five 17 to once again put him two in front.

“I'm thinking that this has got a really good chance of going in.” Nick Price

The putt

Finding himself on the edge of the par 5 17th green in two, he had at least given himself a chance of catching Jesper Parnevik.

With Parnevik on 18 and dreaming of the Claret Jug, Price plucked his flat stick from the bag and lined up, desperate to avert yet another Open heartbreak.

Hitting and hoping, it was a solid strike – and Price knew it; he danced around the ball, straining to see it drop.

“About eight feet out, I’m thinking that this has got a really good chance of going in,” he said.

“I’m walking, walking and looking at this putt, and it hit a spike mark, knocked it off line, but not enough.”

And drop it did; the Zimbabwean’s celebration equally as emphatic.

The pressure suddenly on Parnevik, the Swede succumbed to make a bogey five on 18, opening the door for Price, with just par required for victory.

The 37-year-old showed the experience of his years, lessons learned by past failings; he made it look easy as he two-putted for his four, and the Claret Jug, breaking his Open curse in perfect fashion.

“In 1982 I had my left hand on this trophy. In 1988 I had my right hand on this trophy,” he said.  “Now, at last I’ve finally got both hands on it, and does it feel good.”

Nick Price