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The 152nd Open


101 Years at Royal Troon

The Open 100 Years at Royal Troon

Royal Troon is set to host its 10th Open championship in July, celebrating 101 years since golf’s original major was played there for the first time.

The famed links course in South Ayrshire has cultivated a deep and rich history over that period, stretching back to when Arthur Havers won the first Troon title in 1923.

From Bobby Locke’s defence in 1950 to Tom Watson’s dramatic triumph in 1982 through to Henrik Stenson’s masterclass in 2016, Royal Troon has certainly staged some of the greatest moments in the history of The Open.

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.

Arthur Havers 1923 The Open 100 Years at Royal Troon

Arthur Havers with the Claret Jug in 1923 at Royal Troon

Havers was joined at the top of the leaderboard by Charles Whitcombe after two rounds before leading on his own going into the final 18 holes, with Hagen two shots behind.

Yet it took a birdie on the final hole for Havers to win his first and only major title, and it came in the most dramatic of fashions.

The young Englishman holed a bunker shot on the 18th hole to beat Hagen by one shot in what would be the last home Open win until 1934, and the last European winner at Royal Troon until Stenson in 2016.

Although it would be another 27 years until Royal Troon hosted The Open next, the course certainly left a lasting impression on golf fans around the world.

Legends leave their mark

The long wait for Troon’s return to The Open was ended in 1950 as Locke defended his 1949 title in South Ayrshire by edging out Roberto de Vincenzo.

Locke became the first Champion Golfer to win back-to-back titles since Hagen in 1929 and his total of 279 was a new record for The Open as he took advantage of lighter conditions.

With Troon now becoming a firm Open favourite, it was only 12 years before the classic course once again took centre stage for a landmark moment in the history of golf’s most prestigious major.

Arnold Palmer Jack Nicklaus The Open 100 Years at Royal Troon

Arnold Palmer at Royal Troon in 1962 with Sam Snead, Bob Charles and Jack Nicklaus watching on

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.

Now, with the wait between Troon returns ever diminishing, only nine years passed before the course was back as a workman-like Watson dramatically claimed his fourth crown in 1982.

The five-time champion Watson played superbly in testing conditions, but even the great man himself admitted his triumph was fortunate as Nick Price threw away a three-shot lead with six holes to play.

There was another tight finish in 1989 when Mark Calcavecchia emerged victorious from a three-man play-off to become the latest American to carve his name on the Claret Jug.

The last Open at Troon before the millennium then concluded with Justin Leonard flying the stars and stripes once again, seeing off Jesper Parnevik and Darren Clarke in 1997.

“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 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.

Mickelson Stenson The Open 2016 100 Years at Royal Troon

Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson embrace on the 18th at Royal Troon in 2016

Mickelson equalled the record for the lowest ever major round with a 63 on Thursday following an agonising lip-out. Not to be outdone however, a peerless Stenson matched Mickelson’s record on Sunday en route to shooting the lowest tournament score to par in Open history and beating the valiant Mickelson by three shots.

History will once again be written around the South Ayrshire links this summer, as golf's greatest players will all compete for the chance to be called Champion Golfer of the Year.