My Target was just to qualify for the last day, but I had a good first round then a good second, then I found myself two shots in the lead. I had been playing for myself up to that point, then I felt I was playing for the whole of Scotland. Everyone thinks that because you have played well for two rounds, you can win it. The reality is that unless you have been there once or twice, it is unlikely you will. The next day it took me half an hour to get from the car to the practice range instead. I ended up with a policeman on each shoulder like the winner of the Grand National. On the first tee I was handed about 40 telegrams. Every shot I dropped, I felt I was letting everyone down. I finished the tournament feeling dreadful; but it is a memory that no one can take away.
Royal Lytham 1979
I WAS off at 8.10am and it was blowing a gale. I got off to an unbelievable start and I started making extraordinary putts. I had a putt from 10 feet at the ninth to go out in 29. After the tee-shot, Denis Durnian said: "I suppose you are going to make that putt." I said: "Denis, it's dead." I was that confident, which is not like me. At the par-three 12th I hit a one or two-iron to three inches. That was to go eight-under. I felt I was going to shoot 59, or something crazy. The next best score on the leaderboard was three- under. Then I became aware of the cameras, and I realised what I was doing; I bogeyed 15 and 16, but I had a putt on the last green for a 65, a curling 55-footer, and how it missed I'll never know. It was a fantastic day. I've never had a round like it and it came out of the blue.
Christy O'Connor Jnr
Royal St George's 1985
IT WAS really fantastic, any time you lead the Open it is a wonderful thing. To me it is the greatest tournament the world has ever seen. It is still one of my greatest thrills and I should have won. I had every chance, but my putter let me down on the last day. On the first day I was out early, shot 64, had 10 birdies, and seven in a row. I remember seeing my name on the leaderboard and my friend Eamonn Darcy, who travels with me, couldn't believe it. Every time he looked up, it was one more and one more. The course is so tough, but I was playing very well, hitting it close and converting the putts. Henry Cotton, who shot 65 there in 1934, congratulated me on breaking his record, though he did not think it would take so long. He said for fun: "Did you play all the golf course?"
Royal Troon 1989
IT SEEMS like only yesterday. I was playing really well at the time. My ball-striking was fantastic, but my putting was horrendous. On the Tuesday I saw this putter and it suddenly felt good. I was off at 3.50pm on the Thursday and made four birdies in the first seven holes. I just kept making pars and there was a real logjam on four-under. At 15 I hit a great shot and realised I was leading. All of a sudden, people came out of restaurants. and fish and chip bars. I remember a TV buggy rushing back down the 16th fairway, almost running into a ditch. It was a great feeling coming off the last with a 66, leading by two. Just the other day someone in a bar said: "Didn't you lead the Open?" It's nice to think you have done something everyone would like to do.
Royal Birkdale 1991
I can remember it distinctly because I was playing with Mark Mouland and Jean Van de Velde. I felt great the first day and didn't shoot the score I should have. I holed a couple of shots at the turn, looked at the scores, and just kept pressing on. The thought of finishing the day leading the Open spurred me on. I birdied the 17th to become the outright leader and then made a good up and down out of a bunker at the last. The thing that gave me the most pleasure was keeping the press back from writing their stories because this was almost 9pm. I didn't have my tour card at the time because I was coming back from being ill - I had ME in 1989. It was a big turning point. I had not played at that competitive level for almost three years and it gave me the confidence to realise I could come back.
I played really well. The Open is always an odd event because if you do happen to play really well in the first round you get all this attention. But the number of guys who win after leading in the first round is minimal. It's all a bit over the top. I remember being amazed at the attention, considering it was one furlong into the race. I shot 65 and I remember holing a two-iron at the 16th into a squally wind from about 175 yards. I was already on the leaderboard and with that I went to the top. That was a memorable moment. The next day I had an eagle putt at the seventh and three-putted and double bogeyed the next. I got a lot of messages from back home in New Zealand. It is nice to play well in a big tournament like that just to remind people that you are there.Reuse content