British Open 2017: A quick look at the 9 previous Opens at Royal Birkdale

The British Open has been contested nine times at Royal Birkdale, and the venerable track has seen no shortage of excitement. 

The first contest for the Claret Jug at the Southport, Merseyside, golf course was in 1954. Most recently, Padraig Harrington won the jug at the Hawtree and Taylor-designed course in 2008.

In addition to The Open, Royal Birkdale hosted the Ryder Cup twice. It was the site of the famous “Concession,” the 1969 16-16 tie wherein Jack Nicklaus conceded a short putt to Tony Jacklin to halve their match and the competition.

Let’s take a look at the nine previous Royal Birkdale-ian Open:

Year: 1954

Winner: Peter Thomson

Margin: 1 shot.

Runner-up: Bobby Locke, Dai Rees, Sid Scott.

Peter Thomson isn’t a name most younger American golf fans know well, but the man was a British Open dynamo, winning five of the things. He narrowly outlasted Bobby Locke to win his first of the five in 1954.

Year: 1961

Winner: Arnold Palmer

Margin: 1 shot.

Runner-up: Dai Rees

Entering the final round with a one-stroke lead over Dai Rees, Arnold Palmer was steady enough with a final-round 72 to beat Rees by a stroke. It was Palmer’s second trip across the pond for an Open attempt. His third-round recovery shot from behind a bush is commemorated by a plaque today.

Year: 1965

Winner: Peter Thomson

Margin: 2 shots

Runner-up: Brian Huggett, Christy O’Connor Sr.

Thomson bookended his first British Open victory with his fifth at Royal Birkdale in 1965. Both Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus were in the field, but neither could best Thomson. He preserved amid some particularly rough British Open weather during the third round, beating Tony Lima by two strokes.

Year: 1971

Winner: Lee Trevino

Margin: 1 shot

Runner-up: Liang-Huan Lu

Lee Trevino was a wire-to-wire winner at the 1971 U.S. Open. Trevino was a man possessed during the summer of 71, winning both the U.S. Open and the Canadian Open. Trevino made a mess of the final hole, carding a seven, but he still won beat Liang-Huan Lu of Taiwan by a stroke.

Year: 1976

Winner: Johnny Miller

Margin: 6 shots.

Runner-up: Seve Ballesteros, Jack Nicklaus

Johnny Miller reprised his final-round brilliance from the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont. Trailing by four entering Sunday, Miller carded a final-round 66 while those around him faltered. 19-year-old Seve Ballesteros burst onto the national scene with a runner-up showing.

Year: 1983

Winner: Tom Watson

Margin: 1 shot

Runner-up: Andy Bean, Hale Irwin

Tom Watson not only won five British Opens, but he won them all on different courses. Watson entered the final round with a one-stroke lead. Nick Faldo faltered over the closing holes. Watson fired a superb 2-iron from 210 yards out at the last. Two putts later, the jug was his again. Interestingly, Hale Irwin missed a two-inch putt during the final round that left him on the outside looking in.

Year: 1991

Winner: Ian Baker-Finch

Margin: 1 shot

Runner-up: Mike Harwood

Taking a lesson from his weekend meltdown at the 1984 British Open, Ian Baker Finch carded two stellar weekend rounds of 64-66 to beat Mike Harwood by a stroke. Finchy birdied five of his last seven holes to win.

Year: 1998

Winner: Mark O’Meara

Margin: Playoff

Runner-up: Brian Watts

Perhaps you remember Mark O’Meara won the 1998 British Open in a playoff, but over who? Brian Watts is the answer to that bit of trivia. At 41, O’Meara became the oldest golfer to win two majors in the same year. 17-year-old amateur Justin Rose holed a pitch at the final hole to tie for fourth.

Year: 2008

Winner: Padraig Harrington

Score: 283

Margin: 4 shots

Runner-up: Ian Poulter

No European had won back-to-back British Opens in more than 100 years when Padraig Harrington did it in 2008. Greg Norman, 53, made a valiant attempt at becoming the oldest major champion ever, but he came apart on the back nine Sunday. Harrington hit the shot of the tournament (/his life) with an 5-wood to inside 10 feet for eagle at the 17th hole. He won by four. .

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