At the age of 41, Mark O’Meara won The Open at Royal Birkdale in 1998 to become the oldest player to win two majors in the same year.
He added to his Masters title from April by defeating Brian Watts in a play-off as his 17-year career enjoyed a late surge – something he credited to practising alongside young protege Tiger Woods.
“Tiger’s rejuvenated me,” O’Meara said. “He has been a driving force. I look at Tiger’s talent and his technique and his swing and I think he is a better player than I am.
“That motivated me. He keeps telling my friends, ‘You know Mark can really play and he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves.”
Watts, who was born in Montreal of an English father and a German mother and raised in Dallas, was a surprise leader after the second and third rounds but remained calm as O’Meara rallied from two behind.
O’Meara appeared to take control with birdies at the 11th and then the two par-3s, the 12th and the 14th, hitting a 3-iron to four feet at the latter. He dropped a shot at the 16th but birdied the 17th for a 68.
Watts, playing in the group behind, also birdied the 17th and then played an exquisite bunker shot from an awkward stance to save par at the last and force the play-off. O’Meara, sitting beside the green, led the applause.
A birdie at the 15th at the start of the four-hole play-off followed by three pars was good enough for a two-shot win. Woods, the winner of the 1997 Masters, almost joined the play-off but missed out by one shot after birdieing three of the last four holes.
Justin Rose’s 66 in the second round equalled the record for an amateur in The Open, held by Frank Stranahan and Woods, and the 17-year-old enjoyed great support over the weekend.
There was a deafening roar when he holed a pitch from the rough at the final hole for a birdie to finish in a tie for fourth place, the best result by a British amateur since Roger Wethered lost a play-off in 1921.