Our Royal St George’s Recaps look back on the five most recent Open Championships to have been held at the venue for The 149th Open in 2021.
The third instalment of the series recalls a thrilling event in 1993, which culminated in Greg Norman lifting the Claret Jug for the second time.
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THE CHAMPION GOLFER OF THE YEAR
Following his maiden Open win at Turnberry in 1986, Norman had endured seven years of frustration in his quest for a second major title, along with a slump in form in the early 1990s.
However, the Australian showed his class at Royal St George’s as he overcame his great rival Nick Faldo – the defending Champion and World Number One – and a host of other big names in sensational style.
After birdieing five of the last six holes to claim a share of the first-day lead with a four-under 66, Norman recorded scores of 68 and 69 to trail Faldo, who had posted a course-record 63 in round two, and Corey Pavin by one with 18 to play.
The Great White Shark then produced one of the greatest final rounds in Open history to win by two, striking the ball impeccably on his way to a closing 64. Norman went on to say he had never played better, while Gene Sarazen – in attendance 61 years after his triumph at neighbouring Prince’s – hailed the Championship as the finest he had ever seen.
-13 Greg Norman (66, 68, 69, 64)
-11 Sir Nick Faldo (69, 63, 70, 67)
-10 Bernhard Langer (67, 66, 70, 67)
-8 Corey Pavin (68, 66, 68, 70), Peter Senior (66, 69, 70, 67)
-6 Ernie Els (68, 69, 69, 68), Nick Price (68, 70, 67, 69), Paul Lawrie (72, 68, 69, 65)
A LEADERBOARD TO SAVOUR
Norman’s victory was all the sweeter given the calibre of players he defeated. Remarkably, all but one of the final top 12 at Royal St George’s were either already a major champion, or would go on to win at least one major later in their career.
FALDO JUST MISSES OUT ON PERFECT BIRTHDAY PRESENT
Faldo was not only searching for a fourth triumph in seven Opens. He was also looking to prevail on his 36th birthday.
Faldo could not claim the perfect present in the shape of the Claret Jug, though, as his final-day 67 was eclipsed by Norman’s sublime 64.
SIXTH-PLACED ELS CLAIMS SLICE OF HISTORY
In only his third Open appearance, Ernie Els finished in the top six for the second year running.
What is more, with a tied sixth placed finish, finishing seven strokes behind Norman on six under, the South African made history.
In returning two rounds of 68 either side of a pair of 69s, Els became the first player to break 70 in all four rounds and not win the Championship.
The feat has since been repeated on three occasions. Jesper Parnevik had a 66, a 67 and two 68s at Turnberry 12 months later, only to finish second behind Nick Price, while Els again managed two 68s and two 69s at Royal Troon in 2004, before losing a play-off to Todd Hamilton. Most recently, Rickie Fowler had a 67, a 68 and two 69s at Royal Liverpool in 2014 as he finished tied-second behind Rory McIlroy.
HIGHLIGHTS SNUB CRUEL ON NASH
After coming through Regional and Final Qualifying to play at Royal St George’s, Tony Nash produced a moment of pure magic at the 18th.
Playing in the penultimate match of the opening day, Nash hit a gorgeous approach to no more than three feet on the difficult final hole.
Nash duly stayed up to see if his superb shot had made the BBC’s late-night highlights, but he was sadly disappointed! He could still be extremely proud of an opening-round 70, though he was unable to make the cut.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?
Faldo and Norman still had one more memorable major battle ahead of them, with the Englishman erasing a six-shot deficit from the Australian in the final round to win the 1996 Masters by five strokes.
The following year’s Open at Turnberry was won by a player who had tied for sixth at Royal St George’s, with Price producing a storming finish to beat Parnevik to glory.