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History of The Open

Royal Troon Revisited 1973


Wonderful Weiskopf goes wire-to-wire

Tom Weiskopf celebrates winning The Open in 1973

Inspired by his surroundings and undaunted by challenging conditions, Tom Weiskopf produced the performance of his life at Royal Troon in 1973.

Weiskopf arrived on Scotland’s west coast in prime form, having won three PGA Tour titles in the previous nine weeks.

Yet one thing was missing for a player so highly regarded by his peers  major glory.

That would all change at Troon as Weiskopf rose to the occasion in stunning style, leading from start to finish and holding off a chasing pack that included the great Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller, who had won the US Open just a few weeks earlier.

This is the story of The 102nd Open and Weiskopf’s wonderful wire-to-wire triumph.


A golfing great bows out in style

The Open of 1973 culminated in a coronation for one of golf’s rising stars, but it also featured a spectacular farewell from a great Champion of yesteryear.

Gene Sarazen – one of only five players in history to have completed the career Grand Slam – competed in golf’s original Championship for the final time at the age of 71, half a century after narrowly failing to qualify for the first Open to be played at Troon.

Gene Sarazen in his final Open at Troon in 1973

The great Gene Sarazen in his final Open outing

“I’m just delighted to come back here after 50 years,” said a beaming Sarazen on the eve of the Championship.

“I don’t recognise many of my old colleagues – they’re up there on the first tee waiting for me, (Walter) Hagen, (Bobby) Jones and (Tommy) Armour.

“They’re saying ‘hurry up, Sarazen, hurry up!’ But you’ve got a long wait!”

Happily, Sarazen was proven correct. He would go on to live for a further 26 years before passing away in 1999 at the grand old age of 97.

And in his final Open appearance he produced one last moment of magic, delighting the crowds with a hole-in-one at the iconic Postage Stamp, Troon’s signature eighth hole.

Wind no worry for Weiskopf

The first two days of the Championship were played in testing conditions, with winds whipping continuously across the Troon links.

Two-time defending Champion Lee Trevino was among a host of big names to struggle, shooting 75 and 73 to all but end his chances of a third Open victory in succession.

Yet Weiskopf had no such problems. A 68 gave him a slender first-round lead over Nicklaus and Bert Yancey, before he surged clear of the pack on day two with a five-under 67.

Weiskopf’s nine-under aggregate at the halfway point had him three clear of Miller and Yancey, with Nicklaus a shot further back.

Now it was a question of whether the leader could hold his nerve.


Tom Weiskopf at Troon in 1973

Tom Weiskopf takes the plaudits at Troon

Overcoming a third-round wobble

The early signs were not good for Weiskopf on day three.

As persistent rain presented a new examination, the powerful American started shakily, duffing a chip on his way to a bogey at the 1st and then dropping another shot at the 3rd to lose sole possession of the lead.

Lesser players may have crumbled altogether, but Weiskopf dug deep to get his challenge back on track.

He reached the final hole level with Miller on -10 and duly regained the outright lead with a par as his rival’s eight-foot putt for the same score somehow failed to drop.

The battle for the Claret Jug now looked likely to be a two-horse race, with Yancey having slipped from nine-under to five-under over the closing holes and a seemingly injured Nicklaus even further back on one-under.


The final hurdle

With the best weather of the week initially affording more scoring opportunities on the final day, both Nicklaus, who had looked to be totally out of contention, and England’s Neil Coles took full advantage.

Jack Nicklaus lines up a putt at The 102nd Open

Jack Nicklaus made a trademark charge on the final day

Nicklaus, already a two-time Champion Golfer at this point, carded a 65 – the best score of the week – to reach eight-under before Coles completed a 66 to top the Golden Bear’s aggregate by one.

As the pair gradually edged closer to the top of the leaderboard and ramped up the pressure on Weiskopf, the long-time leader was at least able to strengthen his advantage over nearest rival Miller.

A one-shot cushion was extended to three inside the first three holes as a Miller bogey at the 2nd was followed by a Weiskopf birdie at the 3rd.

Miller twice got back within two shots thereafter, but Weiskopf was in no mood to surrender the opportunity of a lifetime, his focus and resilience summed up by outstanding iron shots at the 14th and 15th after he had seen his lead trimmed at the previous hole.

Weiskopf was three clear with one to play and the grinning Champion-elect was able to savour the greatest walk in golf as he marched towards the 18th green safe in the knowledge the Claret Jug was his.

A two-putt par saw Weiskopf finish with a 70 for a 12-under total of 276, equalling the Championship record set by Arnold Palmer at Troon in 1962.

In addition, the newest Champion Golfer of the Year became only the fifth man to lead outright after every round of a 72-hole Open, with Tiger Woods (2005) and Rory McIlroy (2014) the only men to emulate the feat in the years that have followed.

“To win my first major championship in the country where golf started is something that you can’t explain,” said a jubilant Weiskopf at the trophy presentation.

“It’s the most inspirational place I’ve ever played golf and I’m very proud to be your Champion.”

More than half a century on, Weiskopf’s performance remains one of the finest in The Open’s illustrious history.

The 152nd Open