Doug Sanders – Captured on film (1970)


Doug Sanders won 20 PGA Tour and had 13 top-10s in Major championships. Nicknamed the ‘Peacock of the Fairways’ for his stylish clothes, Sanders believed he was the main character, the PGA Tour playboy, in Dan Jenkins’ seminal golf novel Dead Solid Perfect. But he is remembered for what happened on the 18th green in the final round of the 1970 Open at St Andrews.


Sanders had been the epitome of consistency going into the final act thanks to rounds of 68, 71 and 71. That left him tied second with Jack Nicklaus and, having battled away as the field dealt with gusty conditions, Sanders led by one as he stood over his final tee shot after saving par at the Road Hole 17th. He struck a long drive towards the clubhouse and Open victory looked his for the taking.


Simply needing to find the green and two putt, he hit his chip a long way past the flag. Sanders’ first putt, though, was excellent and he left himself three feet for the Claret Jug. Downhill, and with a left-hand borrow, he tentatively stabbed and the ball slipped agonisingly past the hole.

The American, with wife Scotty, took a glug of champagne to console himself afterwards. A play-off on Sunday awaited. It was the first at the Open since 1963 and the first played over 18 holes. Nicklaus won the second of his three championships by one stroke when he recorded a 72 to Sanders’ 73.