Inside the 18th hole at St. Andrews (Old Course)
The history, memories and statistics surrounding the 2015 Open Championship's closing hole
July 12, 2015
By Charlie Kane, PGATOUR.COM
- Nick Faldo sinks a putt at the 18th hole at St. Andrews to win the 1990 Open Championship. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
As one of the oldest golf courses in the world, the Old Course at St. Andrews Golf Club is full of history. Much of that history has occurred on the 18th hole.
The Valley of Sin. The famous clubhouse. The Swilcan Bridge.
All golfers who play the closing hole walk over the 700-year-old bridge. Players pose on the bridge for a variety of reasons. Some do it following an Open Championship victory. Others to signify their last time playing the course. Today they may stop for a picture just to post it on Instagram.
The hole is entitled "Tom Morris." Old Tom Morris designed both No. 1 and No. 18 at St. Andrews.
It is one of the easiest par 4s not only on the course but on the PGA TOUR schedule. The last time The Open Championship was held at St. Andrews (2010), the hole played as the second-easiest par 4 of all courses.
In 2005, the hole yielded nine eagles and played as the easiest par 4 on the PGA TOUR all season. The stroke average that year? 3.538. Of the 990 holes played on TOUR that season, only 39 holes played easier. The 17th that precedes it played as the most difficult hole of all 936 in 2010.
The Open Championship this year will be the 29th time the event has been held at St. Andrews.
1873: The first year that The Open Championship was held at St. Andrews was over 140 years ago in 1873. Tom Kidd won the tournament and his prize was 11 British pounds. That's the equivalent of $17.17.
Rory McIlroy won nearly $1.7 million after claiming The Open Championship title in 2014. Rhein Gibson, who finished last of those who made the cut in 2014, still earned $20,844.
The tournament was just two rounds of 18 holes in 1873. This was also the first year that the famed Claret Jug was awarded to the winner.
Kidd was tied for the lead after Round 1. He shot 91 and won at 35-over par.
1957: Bobby Locke won The Open Championship in 1957 by three strokes.
However, on the 72nd green he accidentally forgot to replace his ball marker before stroking his putt.
The R&A gave him a break, luckily, and stated: "The error was not spotted at the time, but reported to R&A officials later. The Championship Committee quickly decided that with his three-shot lead and no advantage having been gained, the equity and spirit of the game dictated that he should not be disqualified."
1970: Doug Sanders reached the 18th green of the Old Course at St. Andrews on Sunday needing only a par to beat Jack Nicklaus by one stroke.
He was on the green in two but a ways away. Henry Longhurst, the TV play-by-play commentator, said, "Of all the greens that I wouldn't want a long downhill one from the back of to get down in two to win the British Open ... this is a test."
Sanders lagged his first putt to about 2 1/2 feet. "Oh lord. Well that is one that I would not like to have," Longhurst said.
The second putt was about as difficult as they get when under 3 feet. It was a downhill, left-to-righter with a major championship on the line.
Sanders was playing in the final group with 54-hole leader Lee Trevino who rolled in a birdie. Being fidgety the entire 72nd hole, Sanders picked Trevino's ball out of the cup and handed it to him.
It was his turn. 2 1/2 feet to win The Open Championship.
Sanders wiped the path to the hole a few times. He read the putt from behind the hole. He read the putt from in front of the hole. He read the putt from behind the hole again. He stepped up to the ball to stroke the putt.
Sanders looked at the hole, then back at the ball, then back at the hole, then back at the ball, then back at the hole, then back at the ball, then back at the hole, then back at the ball, then back at the hole, then back at the ball, then back at the hole, then stopped and removed something in the path.
Longhurst quivered. Crowd members giggled.
Sanders stepped up to the ball once more to stroke the putt. He looked at the hole, then back at the ball, then back at the hole, then back at the ball, then back at the hole, then back at the ball, then back at the hole, then back at the ball, then back at the hole, then back at the ball, then back at the hole, then back at the ball, then back at the hole, then back at the ball, then back at the hole, then back at the ball and finally stroked the putt.
Sanders missed the hole entirely.
The next day he lost in an 18-hole playoff to Nicklaus, who birdied the 90th hole of the tournament to win his eighth major and second Open Championship.
1984: Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Lanny Wadkins, Nick Faldo and Greg Norman. Those were the top six finishers at The Open Championship in 1984. What a leaderboard. Five of those six were ranked No. 1 at some point in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Seve pulled ahead by one after parring the 17th hole. He sealed the deal with a birdie on the 72nd hole to win by two strokes. It was his second Open Championship victory. Ballesteros would tally three in his career.
His fist pump on the 18th green is one of the most iconic images of El Matador.
1995: One of the most memorable Open Championships came 20 years ago when John Daly won his second career major championship.
It was Arnold Palmer's last Open Championship. It was Tiger Woods' first. Palmer shot 83-75 and missed the cut. Tiger shot 74-71-72-78 and finished well back as an amateur.
This tournament is most remembered, however, by what Constantino Rocca did at the 72nd hole. His tee shot into the 18th was short and left of the green. He would need to get up-and-down for birdie to force an 18-hole playoff with Daly.
Rocca fluffed his pitch. The ball barely rolled over the hill in the Valley of Sin but remained off the green some 60 feet away.
The Italian sank it. Right in the center.
It led to one of the greatest reaction's in golf history. He fell to the ground, face against the grass, wept and repeatedly pounded his fists.
Although he lost in a playoff, it was a site to see nonetheless.
Year Rank Scoring avg. Eagles 2010 18th 3.629 6 2005 18th 3.538 9 2000 11th 3.941 0
Click through the slideshow to view over 100 years worth of images taken at No. 18 at St. Andrews GC (Old Course).