Classic Golf moments: The '85 Open

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Sandy Lyle makes history with Open victory at Sandwich

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The Date
July 21st 1985.

The Place
Royal St George’s Golf Club, Sandwich

The Scene
Going into the last round, two previous Major champions – David Graham and Bernhard Langer – held the lead, with Greg Norman and Mark O’Meara also lurking. Lyle was three back.

The Background
Since Tony Jacklin’s victory at Royal Lytham in 1969, no British player had threatened to win the Open. It was in truth a bleak period for British golf, illustrated by the fact we had to ask continental Europe to join us to make the Ryder Cup competitive.

By the early 80s there was some light at the end of the tunnel though, with Nick Faldo and Sandy Lyle winning frequently on the European Tour.

And in 1985, while Faldo was asking David Leadbetter to take his swing apart and start again, Lyle was using his more home- grown method to claim a Major.

The Action
With Australian Graham, and German, Langer both carding closing 75s – Langer went out of bounds on the 14th – this allowed Lyle to sneak home by a shot with a closing 68.

Lyle also found trouble off the 14th tee but produced a remarkable birdie and then overcame similar adversity at the last. 

His approach rolled agonisingly off to the left of the green and he left his delicate chip short, meaning a steely two-putt was required to finish on 282 and edge out Payne Stewart.

Jose Rivero and Christy O’Connor Jnr joining Graham, Langer and O’Meara in third.

In winning the Open at Royal St George’s, he became Britain’s first champion for 16 years and more remarkably Scotland’s first since Tommy Armour in 1931.

Despite his pedigree – Lyle had won 10 times on tour and played in three Ryder Cups to that point – the Shropshire-born player was an unlikely winner.

Incidentally, the 1985 Open was the last with a double cut. 

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