Look, not every golf course can be the Old Course at St. Andrew’s. Yes, it’s one of the most historic and most popular courses in the world, and by far the favorite in the British Open rotation, but wouldn’t some of the fun of golf’s oldest major be siphoned away if we just had it there every year?
The point I’m trying to make is that while not every course can be St. Andrew’s, plenty of courses are still entertaining to watch golf be played on. This year’s Open Championship, more commonly known in America as the British Open, will be held at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in Lancashire, England. While compared to St. Andrew’s it isn’t the most popular course in the UK, there has been history made at this course. Some fun facts: Annika Sorenstam won her only Women’s British Open here. It is unique in that it is the only major championship course that starts with a par-3 first hole. The last two British Opens played at Royal Lytham were won by Americans, David Duval in 2001 and Tom Lehman in 1996.
With the Open Championship ready to tee off this Thursday, July 19, let’s take a look at the most memorable Opens to be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
5. 2001: David Duval Wins His Only Major
The one-time World Number One, Duval has only one major title to his name, the 2001 Open Championship. After starting with a mediocre 69-73, Duval surged out of the gate Saturday and shot a 65 to join a four-way tie for the lead with Alex Cejka, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam. A 67 on Sunday secured Duval his one and only major, winning by three strokes over Niclas Fasth.
4. 1988: Seve Ballesteros Wins His Final Major with Monday 65
Heavy rains and flooded greens on Saturday caused a suspension of play in the middle of the 1988 Open Championship at Royal Lytham. The third round was played Sunday and the final round on Monday. Spain’s Seve Ballesteros, who had begun Monday two strokes behind leader Nick Price, shot a final-round 65 to take his third Open (his second at Royal Lytham) and his fifth and final major championship.
3. 1996: Tom Lehman Breaks Course Record in Third Round
Lehman shot a pair of 67s to be the 36-hole co-leader with Paul McGinley. Then he shot a magnificent third-round 64, setting a new course record and distancing himself from the pack. He was -15 after 54 holes, six strokes ahead of second-place Nick Faldo. He shot a 73 on Sunday, which he called “not pretty, but gritty.” Thanks to the huge lead he had begun with, it was still enough to win the Open, two strokes ahead of Ernie Els and Mark McCumber.
2. 1926: Bobby Jones wins his first Open Championship
The legendary amateur golfer finished his final round by playing holes 14-18, all considerably difficult par 4s, 4-3-4-4-4. Jones reached the 17th green in two by making a miraculous bunker shot, where even today a plaque marks the spot on the course he shot from. It was Jones’s first of three Open Championships.
1. 1979: Seve Ballesteros Becomes the “Car Park” Champion
Leading by two strokes on the sixteenth, the young Ballesteros hooked his drive into a car park. The ball was ruled to still be in play, so the Spaniard worked his magic, landing his shot from the parking lot to fifteen feet from the hole. He birdied the hole and won the championship, his first career major, by three strokes over Jack Nicklaus and Ben Crenshaw.