Arnold Palmer

1961 / Royal Birkdale

Arnold Palmer wanted to win The Open in 1960 because he had won the Masters and the US Open already that year.

In 1961 he wanted to win The Open because he had not won either the Masters or the US Open. The runner-up on his debut the year before, Palmer went one better at Royal Birkdale, beating Dai Rees by a stroke.

In the process he added to the legend of his attacking style, never taking a backward step, and helped re-invigorate The Open in the eyes of his fellow American golfers.

The wild weather that hit Southport that year was no deterrent to Palmer, and he made five birdies in the first six holes in the teeth of a gale in the second round. He also called a penalty stroke on himself when his ball moved in a bunker though no one else had seen it.

Friday’s third and fourth rounds were postponed due to rain and overnight storms that swept away many of the marquees.

On the Saturday morning Palmer had a 69 to take the lead and then in the afternoon he hit his famous 6-iron from thick rough at the base of a bush at the 15th hole (now the 16th).

A huge divot and other detritus flew everywhere but the ball arrived on the green, 140 yards away. He secured a 72 and won on a total of 284.

Rees was four behind with four to play but made up three strokes to finish one back. He had been playing in The Open since 1935 and this was his last chance.

He was a runner-up three times, each time to one of the game’s greats: Ben Hogan in 1953, Peter Thomson in 1954 and Palmer in 1961. Neil Coles and Christy O’Connor Snr shared third place, three behind Rees.

Name
Finish
R1
R2
R3
R4
Total
Par
Arnold PALMER
1
70
73
69
72
284
-
Dai REES
2
68
74
71
72
285
-
Neil COLES
3
70
77
69
72
288
-
Christy O'CONNOR SR
3
71
77
67
73
288
-
Eric BROWN
5
73
76
70
70
289
-
5
68
75
75
71
289
-
7
75
72
70
73
290
-
Peter ALLISS
8
73
75
72
71
291
-
Ken BOUSFIELD
8
71
77
75
68
291
-
Syd SCOTT
10
76
75
71
71
293
-
Harold HENNING
10
68
74
75
76
293
-
Ramon SOTA
12
71
76
72
76
295
-
Tony COOP
13
71
79
73
74
297
-
Sebastian MIGUEL
14
71
80
70
77
298
-
Norman JOHNSON
14
69
80
70
79
298
-
Angel MIGUEL
14
73
79
74
72
298
-
Reg KNIGHT
14
71
80
73
74
298
-
Paul RUNYAN
18
75
77
75
72
299
-
Dennis HUTCHINSON
18
72
80
74
73
299
-
Dave THOMAS
20
71
77
77
75
300
-
Peter BUTLER
20
72
76
78
74
300
-
Lionel PLATTS
20
70
80
71
79
300
-
John JACOBS
20
71
79
76
74
300
-
Harry BRADSHAW
20
73
75
78
74
300
-
Ralph MOFFITT
25
73
80
73
75
301
-
Jean GARAIALDE
25
69
81
76
75
301
-
Brian HUGGETT
25
72
77
75
77
301
-
Adina Test
25
71
77
75
78
301
-
David MILLER
29
69
79
80
74
302
-
George WILL
29
74
75
75
78
302
-
Brian WILKES
31
72
76
77
78
303
-
Guy WOLSTENHOLME
32
72
80
77
75
304
-
John PANTON
32
73
78
75
78
304
-
32
76
77
74
77
304
-
Jim HENDERSON
35
72
78
77
78
305
-
Sam KING
35
70
77
79
79
305
-
William MCHARDY
35
76
76
76
77
305
-
George LOW
38
76
76
76
78
306
-
Eric GREEN
38
75
78
77
76
306
-
Ronald WHITE
38
71
79
80
76
306
-
Tom HALIBURTON
41
74
79
76
78
307
-
David SNELL
41
72
81
77
77
307
-
Frank PHILLIPS
41
74
79
76
78
307
-
Martin CHRISTMAS
44
71
79
79
79
308
-
Fred BOOBYER
44
74
79
81
74
308
-
William BRANCH
46
77
76
78
78
309
-
Christy GREENE
46
73
77
81
78
309
-
Wd
73
77
-
-
-
M/C
Donald SWAELENS
M/C
74
80
-
-
-
M/C
Alan BROOKES
M/C
70
84
-
-
-
M/C
Bobby VERWEY
M/C
76
78
-
-
-
M/C
L. WOODWARD
M/C
73
81
-
-
-
M/C
M.E. HILL
M/C
75
80
-
-
-
M/C
Richard CHAPMAN
M/C
72
83
-
-
-
M/C
John MACDONALD
M/C
70
85
-
-
-
M/C
Brian BAMFORD
M/C
77
78
-
-
-
M/C
Jack ISAACS
M/C
73
82
-
-
-
M/C
Jimmy MARTIN
M/C
75
80
-
-
-
M/C
Ian MACDONALD
M/C
77
78
-
-
-
M/C
Tony FISHER
M/C
75
80
-
-
-
M/C
Bernard HUNT
M/C
72
83
-
-
-
M/C
Jack WILKSHIRE
M/C
74
82
-
-
-
M/C
Brian ALLEN
M/C
74
82
-
-
-
M/C
W.C.A. HANCOCK
M/C
77
79
-
-
-
M/C
M/C
72
84
-
-
-
M/C
J.S. MORE
M/C
76
80
-
-
-
M/C
Frank STRANAHAN
M/C
75
81
-
-
-
M/C
E. CANESSA
M/C
77
79
-
-
-
M/C
Edwin WALSH
M/C
78
78
-
-
-
M/C
Roger MANDEVILLE
M/C
73
84
-
-
-
M/C
Alex FOX
M/C
71
86
-
-
-
M/C
John BURTON
M/C
78
79
-
-
-
M/C
Jimmy HITCHCOCK
M/C
74
83
-
-
-
M/C
M/C
80
77
-
-
-
M/C
Richard KEMP JR
M/C
73
85
-
-
-
M/C
Gregor MCINTOSH
M/C
76
82
-
-
-
M/C
Derek CRAIK
M/C
74
84
-
-
-
M/C
Hamish BALLINGALL
M/C
77
81
-
-
-
M/C
D.L. MELVILLE
M/C
74
85
-
-
-
M/C
M/C
75
84
-
-
-
M/C
Frank JOWLE
M/C
74
85
-
-
-
M/C
Laurie AYTON JR
M/C
77
82
-
-
-
M/C
Michael BONALLACK
M/C
75
84
-
-
-
M/C
Marcelino SOTA
M/C
77
82
-
-
-
M/C
Arnold STICKLEY
M/C
74
86
-
-
-
M/C
Harry WEETMAN
M/C
77
83
-
-
-
M/C
Ian SMITH
M/C
77
83
-
-
-
M/C
Fred BULLOCK
M/C
74
86
-
-
-
M/C
Robert HALSALL
M/C
74
86
-
-
-
M/C
K.F. DODSWORTH
M/C
79
81
-
-
-
M/C
John FALLON
M/C
77
83
-
-
-
M/C
Nicholas LYNCH
M/C
78
82
-
-
-
M/C
Joe CARR
M/C
75
86
-
-
-
M/C
Michael REECE
M/C
75
87
-
-
-
M/C
J.R. MOSES
M/C
79
83
-
-
-
M/C
Leopoldo RUIZ
M/C
76
87
-
-
-
M/C
David TALBOT
M/C
79
84
-
-
-
M/C
Grant AITKEN
M/C
78
85
-
-
-
M/C
Bobby WALKER
M/C
78
85
-
-
-
M/C
Joe EZAR
M/C
83
80
-
-
-
M/C
Bill MILLER
M/C
79
86
-
-
-
M/C
Maurice MOIR
M/C
75
90
-
-
-
M/C
Peter O'CONNOR
M/C
79
87
-
-
-
M/C
W.J. HENDERSON
M/C
77
90
-
-
-
M/C
Ken ADWICK
M/C
79
88
-
-
-
M/C
Michael PEARSON
M/C
85
84
-
-
-
M/C
P. HIGGINS
M/C
82
87
-
-
-
M/C
Peter GILL
Wd
75
-
-
-
-
M/C

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