Havers works his magic
For the first 60 years of The Open’s history, the Claret
Jug’s visits to the southwest of Scotland were confined to Prestwick – Troon’s
next-door neighbour and original Championship host.
That all changed in 1923, however, when The Open went to
Troon for the first time. The course had just recently been redesigned,
lengthened and strengthened by five-time Champion Golfer James Braid.
Sporting a new-look, the course provided a fitting climax to Royal Troon’s first Open, with the drama not settled until the final hole as Havers got the better of defending champion Walter Hagen.
Interest in the Championship had been re-awakened by Arnold Palmer’s victory at Royal Birkdale a year before Troon hosted its third Open in 1962, with spectators flocking to watch the popular American.
After encourgaing his fellow countrymen to make the trip across the pond, including the up-and-coming Open debutant Jack Nicklaus, reigning Masters champion Palmer defended his crown in style as his attacking approach thrilled those in attendance.
The American domination of The Open at Troon continued after Palmer’s second Claret Jug success, with the next five Champion Golfers at the course coming from across the pond.
American grip on the Claret Jug
The Open was back at Troon in 1973 as Tom Weiskopf delivered on his potential to win his maiden major, holding off his compatriot Johnny Miller and Englishman Neil Coles to triumph by three shots with a total of 276.
The 102nd Open also marked Gene Sarazen’s last appearance at The Open, and the 1932 Champion Golfer went out in style. Playing the Postage Stamp, the shortest, and perhaps most famous, par-three on The Open rota, Sarazen made a hole-in-one to cement his legacy and secure his place in Open legend.
“Royal Troon is one the world's greatest championship links. It has produced many memorable moments throughout the history of The Open including the dramatic duel between Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson that captivated millions of fans around the world in 2016." ” Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of the R&A
Hamilton's heroics and super Stenson
There has been no shortage of drama at Royal Troon over the
years and the last two Opens in the southwest of Scotland have certainly
delivered their fair share of thrills.
Seven years after Leonard’s win, the run of American success
at Troon continued at The 133rd Open in 2004 – but it was not a name many had
backed at the start of the week.
Todd Hamilton sprung a surprise in only his fourth Open, as
the 38-year-old American – ranked 56th in the world – came through a play-off
to win his first and only major.
Hamilton prevailed against Ernie Els after four extra holes
as his scrambling skills proved decisive, earning his place in Open folklore as
the sixth consecutive American winner at Troon.
And it looked like the USA’s dominance at the venue would
continue with Phil Mickelson in 2016, only for him to come up against an inspired Henrik Stenson in an all-time classic Open duel.
The two players traded blows in a titanic tussle that spanned all four days and produced record scores.