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The Open For The Ages

St Andrews Highlights


The best moments from Opens at the Old Course

Jack Nicklaus celebrates a birdie on his final hole at The Open

Real footage from past Championships at St Andrews, dating back to 1970, will be used to recreate the drama of an Open final round in The Open For The Ages.

The Old Course has certainly played host to plenty of memorable moments in the last 50 years. Ahead of The Open For The Ages, which will culminate in an innovative three-hour broadcast on Sunday 19 July in association with HSBC, we look back at some of the most notable highlights from Open Championships at the home of golf.

1970 - A tale of two putts

Two putts on the 18th green remain the primary enduring memories of The 99th Open in 1970.

Doug Sanders saw a three-foot putt for victory slip agonisingly past the hole at the end of the final round, meaning he faced an 18-hole play-off with Jack Nicklaus the following day.

It would be Nicklaus who eventually prevailed in the play-off and the Golden Bear could not contain his joy when he sank the winning putt on St Andrews' final green. As his ball found its target, Nicklaus threw his putter high into the air, before commiserating with Sanders, who had covered his head as the club fell back to earth.

Jack Nicklaus and Doug Sanders after the former won The Open in a play-off in 1970

1978 - Jack's favourite walk

Eight years on from his first success at St Andrews, Nicklaus won again at the Old Course to claim his third Open victory and 15th major title.

Greeted with a rapturous ovation on his walk to the 18th green, a smiling Nicklaus was able to enjoy one of the most special moments of his illustrious career.

"I've never enjoyed a walk more than I did in '78, coming up the fairway at St Andrews," he said in his Chronicles of a Champion Golfer film.

"I'm going down the last hole, I looked at all the buildings on the right, people were on the roofs, they were hanging out the windows. I started to get tears in my eyes. The people were just unbelievable. They were more excited than I was."

1984 - The iconic Seve celebration

Few celebrations in the history of sport are as iconic as the one enjoyed by Seve Ballesteros following his final putt at St Andrews in 1984.

Tied at the top of the leaderboard with defending champion Tom Watson, who was behind him in the final group, Ballesteros knew a birdie on the 72nd hole would greatly enhance his hopes of victory.

When his putt for a three found its target, Seve let out a roar of delight and repeatedly punched the air in jubilation, striking a pose that would become synonymous with the charismatic Spaniard. The birdie secured a second Open title for Ballesteros and he claimed a third four years later at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

1990 - Faldo sets the tone in Norman showdown

Sir Nick Faldo ultimately triumphed by a wide margin at St Andrews in 1990, finishing five shots clear of Mark McNulty and Payne Stewart with a then-record aggregate of 18 under par.

Round three was key to the Englishman's victory, as he found himself paired with his great rival, Greg Norman. The two leading players in the world at the time had opened up a four-shot lead on the field, setting up a fascinating head-to-head showdown, and Faldo struck a telling blow on the first hole.

After his pitch to the opening green had finished marginally further away from the hole than Norman, Faldo confidently sunk his birdie putt and the Australian failed to follow suit. That exchange set the tone for the round, with Faldo shooting 67 to pull five strokes clear as Norman stumbled out of contention with a 76.

1995 - Rocca's rapid ride from agony to ecstacy

Costantino Rocca had to birdie the 72nd hole of The 124th Open to force a play-off with John Daly. When the Italian duffed his second shot into the Valley of Sin, it appeared his chance had gone.

What followed was extraordinary, as Rocca recovered his composure to sink a lengthy putt from off the front of the green and rescue the most valuable of birdies.

The Italian sunk to his knees with his arms raised in delight, before falling forward to strike the iconic St Andrews turf with his fists.

Daly ultimately prevailed, winning the resulting four-hole play-off in triumphant fashion, but Rocca's putt provided an indelible memory.

2000 - Woods makes history

Tiger Woods was unstoppable over the Old Course in 2000, as he surged to victory by eight strokes and became only the fifth player in history to win all four modern-day majors.

However, although Woods' win was a formality long before he reached the final green, he had reason to focus intently on his last putt.

After reaching 20 under for the tournament on the back nine, Woods had dropped a shot on the 17th, meaning he needed to par the last to set a new record score in a major.

Tiger duly got the job done on the last, making his four to finish with a stunning aggregate score of 269. He went on to win The Open again at St Andrews in 2005, and at Royal Liverpool in 2006.

2005 - Nicklaus bows out in style

Thirty-five years after his famous putt to beat Sanders in a play-off, Nicklaus sent the St Andrews crowd wild for one last time in 2005 as he capped his magnificent career in fitting fashion.

In his final competitive appearance, the 65-year-old Nicklaus received a lengthy ovation on the Swilcan Bridge as he came to the end of his second round.

If that was special, the subsequent scenes on the green were truly magical as Nicklaus converted a birdie putt with his final stroke in professional golf to prompt huge roars from the gallery.

2010 - Bounce-back eagle sums up Oosthuizen dominance

Louis Oosthuizen produced a wonderful performance to triumph by seven shots at St Andrews in 2010, and his commanding success was perhaps summed up best by events on the eighth and ninth holes on the final day of the Championship.

The South African had entered the final round with a four-stroke advantage over Paul Casey. However, the leader saw that buffer cut to three when he bogeyed the eighth and a confident Casey then drove the green at the par-4 ninth to further ratchet up the pressure.

Oosthuizen's response could hardly have been more emphatic. His tee shot also found the green and finished closer to the pin than Casey's. Oosthuizen then drained his eagle putt to reclaim a four-shot cushion and his lead was never under threat thereafter.

Louis Oosthuizen celebrates eagling St Andrews' ninth hole on his way to victory in The Open in 2010

2015 – Watson’s fond farewell

The 144th Open provided another memorable St Andrews farewell for one of golf’s all-time greats.

Tom Watson, the five-time Champion Golfer of the Year making his final Open appearance, looked like he might run out of time to complete his second round in fading light on Friday.

However, with a huge crowd expectantly waiting around the 18th hole, Watson was able to say goodbye just before darkness descended on the Old Course.

Emotions ran high as he received the warmest of receptions, before striking his final putt in an Open shortly before 10pm local time.

The Open For The Ages is in association with HSBC.