Hitting one of the best shots of his career, Tom Watson won his fifth Open title, putting him alongside James Braid, JH Taylor and Peter Thomson and one behind Harry Vardon’s record six Claret Jugs.
It was his first victory in England and came in fine conditions at a Royal Birkdale course that was receptive to scoring, as Craig Stadler’s opening 64 showed.
Graham Marsh became the first player to score a 64 in the final round to take fourth place, while Hale Irwin and Andy Bean’s eight-under score became the target for Watson to beat.
He had taken the lead after 54 holes but dropped two shots going out and Nick Faldo had briefly taken the lead before dropping back on the second nine to finish eighth, following his fourth place in 1982.
Watson birdied the 11th, the 13th and the 16th holes and needed to par the last for a famous victory. After he drove onto the fairway, he had 218 yards to the flag and produced the sweetest of swings with a 2-iron just when he needed it.
He had wasted no time, just two waggles of the club head, but maintained superb rhythm. “I busted that 2-iron as well as I could hit it,” he said. He two-putted from 20 feet and an historic fifth Open was his.
In other oddities from the week, Bill Rogers holed a 1-iron for an albatross on the first day, Denis Durnian, a club professional from Manchester, set a new record of 28 for the first nine on the second day, missing from 10 feet at the ninth for a 27.
Meanwhile, at the 14th hole on Saturday Irwin stubbed his putter and had an air shot while trying to tap in from one inch. He lost by one.