Despite being the reigning US Open champion, Gene Sarazen, on his Open debut, had to qualify in accordance with the custom of the day. He made it successfully, but in a practice round with the former champion Arnaud Massy, the Frenchman noticed how much backspin Sarazen achieved. An investigation discovered this was due to the faces of his clubs being filled with holes and all the American players had to have their club faces filed down. Sarazen did not make the cut, and the title went to , a 25-year-old Englishman. Tall and gangling, Havers, from the Coombe Hill club in Surrey, beat the defending champion Walter Hagen by one shot. The shot he saved was not having to putt at the last, where he holed out of a bunker for a three. It was not quite a dramatic finale since, at the time, he did not know it was for victory. Later Hagen also found sand at the last but could not match the brilliance of the champion. Havers scored 73, 73, 73, 76 for a total of 295. It would be 11 years before another Englishman won the Open again, and no European has won at Troon since.
NO ONE had broken 280 for the Open Championship until Bobby Locke completed his four tours of Troon in 1950 in 279. His record would last for eight years. This was the second of the South African's four Open titles, the first having come the year before at Sandwich. Locke opened up with a 69, but did not find the same form the following day. The 32- year-old played so many brilliant recovery shots, however, that he returned a 72, rather than something in the 80s. He shot a 70 in the third round and went into the closing day tied for the lead with Roberto de Vicenzo, of Argentina. The South African's putting, on greens described as "like velvet", was faultless and his closing 68 gave him a two-stroke lead over the Argentinian, and three over Dai Rees and Fred Daly, who finished with a 66. De Vicenzo's final round included a spectacular three at the Postage Stamp. Under a contemporary ruling, he declared his tee shot, which finished in a bunker, unplayable, went back to the tee and hit a glorious second and holed the putt. The previous penalty of stroke and distance was later restored.
AFTER his first Open victory the year before at Birkdale, Britain was in the grip of Palmermania, the 60s version of Tigermania. Arnold Palmer did not disappoint the overseas platoon of his Arnie's Army. In fact, it was not much of a contest but nobody cared as Palmer waltzed home by six strokes. In the dry and hard conditions, balls bounced all over the Ayrshire links and tricky winds added to the problems. But Palmer's power game was undeterred. There were only seven sub-70 rounds during the week and Palmer recorded three of them, a new record. After an opening 71, he returned scores of 69, 67, 69 for a total of 276. His nearest challenger was Australian Kel Nagle on 282, with Brian Huggett and Phil Rodgers 13 strokes behind Palmer. It was a success which rekindled the aura of the Open. The popularity of the event was shown by the record crowds which turned up to watch, many gaining free admission via the beach. They also saw the Open debut of Jack Nicklaus, the newly-crowned US Open champion, who trailed Palmer at the end by a mere 29 strokes.
TOM WEISKOPF was a runner-up four times at the US Masters and claimed only one major championship, the Open at Troon. Blessed with a classic swing and prodigious length, Weiskopf had won four times in seven outings prior to the Open and shot rounds of 68, 67, 71 and 70 to match the Open record total of 276 set by Palmer 11 years previously. On Troon's fearsome back nine, Weiskopf came home in 34 strokes in the eye of a storm on the third day, a performance of courage and no little skill. He finished three shots ahead of the US Open champion, Johnny Miller, and Neil Coles, who closed with a 66, while Jack Nicklaus, after a final round of 65, was one further back. Gene Sarazen, at the age of 71, failed to make the cut, shooting 160, exactly the same score as on his Open debut at Troon 50 years earlier. The memory of the championship remains Sarazen's hole- in-one with a five-iron at the Postage Stamp. "When the crowd roared and I realised the ball was in the hole. I felt there was no better way to close the books on my tournament play and call it quits," Sarazen said.
A YOUNG American and a young Zimbabwean held the spotlight for much of this year's championship at what had been christened Royal Troon four years earlier to mark the club's centenary. But on Sunday evening, the engraver got to carve a familiar name on the silver claret jug, that of Tom Watson. This was the fourth of Watson's five Open triumphs, the last coming at Birkdale the following year, but one in which he admitted: "I didn't win this championship, I had it given to me." First came Bobby Clampett, who opened up with rounds of 67 and 66, and who led by seven after five holes of the third round. The Postage Stamp would mark the start of his descent to weekend rounds of 78 and 77. Nick Price was one behind Clampett going into the final round, but led the Open by three shots with six holes to play. A bogey at the 13th, a double at the 15th and another dropped shot at the 17th left him one behind Watson, who shot 69, 74, 71, 70 for 284. Peter Oosterhuis birdied the last to join Price, who waited a further 12 years to win an Open, in second, while Nick Faldo was joint fourth.
FOR the first time, the R&A's new mini play-off came into effect when Mark Calcavecchia, Greg Norman and Wayne Grady all tied on 275. Norman raced into contention with a typical Shark charge, birdieing each of the first six holes and setting the new course record of 64 in the final round. He was in the clubhouse hours before the leaders finished and watched as Calcavecchia ignited his challenge by holing a chip from heavy rough at the 12th. Calcavecchia, who played with the controversial square-grooved clubs, was ready to pull out of the championship at any moment to return home to his expectant wife. He stayed long enough to record rounds of 71, 68, 68, 68, a birdie at the last matching Norman. Grady, the long- time leader, bogeyed the 14th and the 17th and was not a factor in the play-off. While the American started par-birdie, Norman went birdie-birdie, but then missed the green at the 17th and drove into a bunker at the last. From there he found more sand and then went out of bounds. Calcavecchia hit a magnificent five-iron to six feet for his second birdie of the day at the hole.Reuse content