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The 150th Open

An elite club


Post-war Champion Golfers at St Andrews

Seve Ballesteros raises the Claret Jug at St Andrews in 1984

The Old Course at St Andrews will play host to a major sporting milestone when it serves as the venue for The 150th Open in July 2022.

A return to the Home of Golf provides the world’s best with an opportunity to join an elite band of players who have lifted the Claret Jug at St Andrews.

Since World War II, a dozen men – including many of the greatest players in history – have won The Open at its most iconic venue.

We take a look at those 12 players, who boast an incredible 67 major titles and 27 Open victories between them.


Sam Snead

Major wins: 7

Open wins: 1

Champion Golfer at St Andrews in 1946

A prolific collector of trophies, Sam Snead collected 82 PGA Tour successes – a record he shares with Tiger Woods – over an extraordinary 29-year span.

Slammin’ Sam was 34 when he claimed his sole Claret Jug in 1946, as the Old Course played host to the first post-war Open.

On a windy final afternoon in Fife, Snead closed the Championship with a 75 but still triumphed by four as his nearest rivals heading into the fourth round recorded scores of 79 and 80, illustrating just how challenging the conditions were.

Snead would only play in three further Opens – in 1962, 1965 and 1976. Although he was 64 by the time of his final appearance, he had incredibly finished tied-third in the PGA Championship just two years earlier.


Peter Thomson

Major wins: 5

Open wins: 5

Champion Golfer at St Andrews in 1955

Peter Thomson at St Andrews in 2015

Peter Thomson at St Andrews in 2015 - 60 years on from his win at the Old Course

Harry Vardon is the only player to have won The Open more times than Peter Thomson, whose tally of five wins puts him level with fellow greats James Braid, J.H. Taylor and Tom Watson.

A remarkably consistent performer, the Australian enjoyed a staggering run of seven top-two finishes in succession during the 1950s.

Having been the runner-up to Bobby Locke and Ben Hogan in 1952 and 1953 respectively, Thomson won the next three Championships – with his 1955 success coming at St Andrews.

In the first Championship to be televised on the BBC, Thomson enhanced his reputation as one of the finest links players by posting a record winning score of 281, besting the previous mark set by Bobby Jones in 1927.

Thomson then triumphed for a fourth time in 1958, after he had been second to Locke again the previous year, and a fifth Open success came his way at Royal Birkdale in 1965.

To this date, he and Watson are the only players to have lifted the Claret Jug five times since World War II.


Bobby Locke

Major wins: 4

Open wins: 4

Champion Golfer at St Andrews in 1957

Two years after Thomson’s victory at St Andrews, The Open’s other dominant force in the 1950s was able to celebrate at the Old Course.

South Africa’s Bobby Locke was already a three-time Champion Golfer when he teed it up in The 86th Open, following earlier successes at Royal St George’s, Troon (which had yet to be granted its ‘Royal’ designation) and Royal Lytham & St Annes.

The Championship of 1957 had been scheduled to take place at Muirfield. However, with the Suez Crisis leading to rationing of petrol and oil, it was decided St Andrews – still served by a railway line at the time - represented an easier venue for players and spectators to reach.

Locke, who had been second and fourth in the previous two Opens at the Home of Golf, made sure he would not suffer another near-miss as he beat Thomson by three strokes.

Yet his win was not without drama. Officials discovered the South African had failed to return his ball marker to the correct spot after he had moved it out of the way of his playing partner on the final green. Locke duly holed out from four feet and was doubtless relieved when the Championship Committee decreed he had not gained an advantage, meaning the initial result stood.


Kel Nagle

Major wins: 1

Open wins: 1

Champion Golfer at St Andrews in 1960

Kel Nagle at the presentation ceremony at St Andrews in 1960

Kel Nagle at the presentation ceremony in 1960

The star attraction of The 89th Open in 1960 was undoubtedly Arnold Palmer, golf’s biggest star who was competing in the Championship for the first time.

Palmer’s appearance had a significant impact in raising The Open’s global profile and he would go on to triumph in each of the next two years, but at St Andrews the popular American was bested by a shock Champion in Kel Nagle.

Aged 39, the Australian had never previously finished inside the top 10 at a major, yet Nagle was inspired as he held his nerve in the face of a trademark final-round charge from Palmer.

Nagle went on to contend frequently at The Open for the remainder of the decade, posting top-10 finishes in six of the next nine Championships.


Tony Lema

Major wins: 1

Open wins: 1

Champion Golfer at St Andrews in 1964

The 93rd Open in July 1964 came at the perfect time for Tony Lema, who was in the form of his life.

Lema made his first trip to Great Britain having won three times in the space of four weeks on the PGA Tour in June.

Although he had never previously played links golf and was only able to manage nine holes of practice, after arriving just 36 hours ahead of the Championship, the American’s winning streak continued at St Andrews as he beat Jack Nicklaus by five strokes.

The guidance of Arnold Palmer’s previous caddie, Tip Anderson, proved invaluable for Lema, who became only the seventh player to win The Open on his debut.

Tragically, he would only play in golf’s original Championship on two further occasions before dying in a plane crash in 1966 at the age of 32.


Jack Nicklaus

Major wins: 18

Open wins: 3

Champion Golfer at St Andrews in 1970 and 1978

It is hard to find enough superlatives for the illustrious career of Jack Nicklaus, the man whose haul of major titles remains unsurpassed.

The Golden Bear already had seven majors – including The 1966 Open Championship at Muirfield – to his name when he headed to St Andrews in 1970 seeking to improve on his runner-up finish at the venue six years earlier.

He looked set to finish second again as Doug Sanders lined up a short putt for victory on the 72nd hole. However, Sanders famously missed, and Nicklaus threw his putter skywards in celebration the next day after winning an 18-hole play-off.

Nicklaus won again over the Old Course in 1978, coming from four behind at the halfway stage with successive 69s over the weekend. That success meant he had won every major at least three times.


Seve Ballesteros

Major wins: 5

Open wins: 3

Champion Golfer at St Andrews in 1984

Two of Seve Ballesteros’ three Open wins came at Royal Lytham & St Annes, but his most famous triumph came at the Home of Golf in 1984.

Tom Watson had won five of the last nine Opens – including each of the last two – and was ominously positioned as the final groups reached the back nine.

Yet although Watson and Bernhard Langer each performed impressively, nothing was going to stop Seve from achieving his “moment of glory”.

His celebration following a successful birdie putt at the 18th ranks among the most iconic in sporting history, and further endeared Seve to the British crowds who already regarded him with such fondness.

In the years that have passed you can bet thousands of visitors to the Old Course have had Seve in their mind upon reaching the final green.


Sir Nick Faldo

Major wins: 6

Open wins: 3

Champion Golfer at St Andrews in 1990

Harry Vardon is the only European to have won more majors than Sir Nick Faldo, who was simply unstoppable at St Andrews in The 119th Open.

A thrilling weekend battle with Greg Norman looked to be in prospect when both players stormed to 12 under through 36 holes.

However, Faldo took total control on Saturday, shooting 67 to his rival’s 76 and opening up a five-stroke advantage over the field as a result.

A closing 71 gave Faldo a record aggregate of 270 and earned him the second of three Open successes in the space of five years. He remains the last Englishman to have lifted the Claret Jug, at Muirfield in 1992.


John Daly

Major wins: 2

Open wins: 1

Champion Golfer at St Andrews in 1995

John Daly’s extraordinary power certainly benefited him at St Andrews in 1995, but his victory in The 124th Open owed just as much to his delightful touch around the greens.

A shock winner of the PGA Championship in 1991, Daly moved into pole position for a second major triumph as a closing-day 71 in windy conditions lifted him into the clubhouse lead.

Costantino Rocca’s unforgettable birdie at the last, which saw the Italian duff a chip before holing an outrageous putt from the Valley of Sin, ensured a play-off was required, but Daly was not to be denied.

The big-hitting American dominated the extra holes to win by five and join the illustrious list of Open winners at the Home of Golf.


Tiger Woods

Major wins: 15

Open wins: 3

Champion Golfer at St Andrews in 2000 and 2005

Tiger Woods’ illustrious career has been studded with countless highlights, but St Andrews played host to one of his finest performances in 2000.

An overwhelming favourite for The 129th Open, Woods certainly lived up to expectations as he cantered to victory by eight strokes on 19-under, setting new benchmarks for the lowest score to par in a major and the lowest aggregate in Opens at the Old Course.

That success completed the career Grand Slam for Woods, who was victorious again, this time by five shots, when The Open returned to St Andrews five years later.

He then defended his crown at Royal Liverpool in 2006, ensuring his tally of Open wins matched the likes of Nicklaus, Ballesteros and Faldo.


Louis Oosthuizen

Major wins: 1

Open wins: 1

Champion Golfer at St Andrews in 2010

Louis Oosthuizen has finished second in majors on six occasions, while he tied for third at Royal St George’s this year after leading through 18, 36 and 54 holes.

However, his sole major victory to date was secured in truly emphatic fashion, as the South African won by seven at the Old Course in The 139th Open.

The South African began the final day leading by four and duly pulled further clear to complete a breakthrough triumph on Nelson Mandela’s birthday.

Oosthuizen almost won again at St Andrews in 2015 when he finished regulation play tied for the lead, only to be edged out by Zach Johnson in a play-off that also featured Marc Leishman.

Given his fantastic record at St Andrews, the Champion Golfer of 2010 will surely be one to watch at The 150th Open.


Zach Johnson

Major wins: 2

Open wins: 1

Champion Golfer at St Andrews in 2015

All eyes were on Jordan Spieth the last time The Open was held at St Andrews, but it was another American who walked away with the Claret Jug.

Spieth was seeking to complete the third leg of an unprecedented calendar-year Grand Slam and performed impressively to finish on 14-under, but that was one shot shy of Leishman, Oosthuizen and Johnson, who had holed a lengthy putt for a three on the final green.

The 2007 Masters Champion followed up that closing birdie in regulation play with two more at the start of a four-hole play-off, and ultimately beat Oosthuizen by one.

Having become the sixth man to follow a victory at Augusta with success at St Andrews, Johnson said: “I’m grateful, I’m humbled and I’m honoured.”

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