Quick 9: Greatest shots in Open history

The Scoop

We sift through 145 years of Open history to find the tournament's best ever shots...

Swirling winds, giant dunes, devilish pot bunkers and heavy gorse – it can only be the Open Championship.

With the start of the 146th instalment of the oldest major in world golf just days away, it got us thinking about all the jaw-dropping shots we have witnessed down the years.

What other breathtaking moments have there been?

So as we get set to spend the next few days on the couch lapping up those sumptuous sights of players battling the elements at Royal Birkdake, here’s our list of the greatest shots in Open history…

Tom Watson, 1977, Turnberry, Rd 4, 18th hole

The 1977 championship produced one of the most nail-bitting finishes in Open history. It also provided one of the tournament’s greatest ever shots.

Dubbed the Duel in the Sun, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus had pulled clear of the rest of the field and were locked in a tense battle for the title.

Watson, the reigning Masters champion, was 1up heading to the 18th and comfortably found the fairway on the last while Nicklaus found the long rough.

Watson then produced this amazing second shot to effectively clinch his second Open crown…

Seve Ballesteros, 1979, Royal Lytham & St Annes, Rd 4, 16th hole

Erratic Seve showed the two sides of his game at the 16th in Lancashire as his wayward tee shot found a car park but, in typical fashion, his deft recovery shot landed on the green.

The Spaniard would then sink a long putt to claim an unlikely birdie.

He would go on to win the first of his five major titles.

Nick Price, 1994, Turnberry, Rd 4, 17th

Heading into the 1994 Open, Zimbabwe’s Nick Price had twice come agonisingly close to lifting the Claret Jug – in 1982 and 1988.

But he was not to be denied in 1994.

A birdie at 16, a 50-foot eagle putt on the long 17th and a par on the last gave him a dramatic one-stroke victory over Jasper Parnevik.

However, it was his monstrous eagle putt on the penultimate hole that proved the defining moment.

Price later said: “I had to make that putt. It was dying right and dived in the right side. I couldn’t believe it went in.”

Costantino Rocca, 1995, St Andrews, Rd 4, 18th

Costantino Rocca is Italy’s most successful ever male golfer and, against the odds, he could have added a major title to his CV at St Andrews in 1995.

Rocca needed a birdie on the 18th to force a play-off with John Daly, but he ran into trouble when he duffed his second shot into the Valley of Sin.

Daly watched Rocca’s mis-hit shot on a monitor and believed he had the championship in the bag.

But Rocca had a different idea. He sank his daunting 65-foot putt to force a play-off with the big-hitting American.

That was when Rocca’s luck ran out as he came home three-over-par in the four-hole shootout to hand Daly his second major crown.

However, Rocco flopping down on the St Andrews turf in sheer delight after holing that putt was pure gold.

Justin Rose, 1998, Royal Birkdale, Rd 4, 18th hole

For many, the prevailing memory from Birkdale in 1998 was a fresh-faced Justin Rose sinking a sensational chip shot from the rough on the 18th.

That chip-in from the 17-year-old amateur helped him secure a final-round 69 and a share for 4th place.

Ernie Els, 2002, Muirfield, Rd 4, 13th hole

To say the 2002 Open was eventful would be putting it mildly.

Tiger’s bid for the Grand Slam came to a crushing end in the rain and wind on Saturday after he shot a 10-over 81.

Then, for the first time in the tournament’s history the winner was decided by a four-man play-off.

And it was steady Ernie who parred all four of the play-off holes to beat off the threat of Thomas Levet, Stuart Appleby and Steve Elkington.

This moment of magic from Els on the 13th hole during the final round was just sublime.

Tiger Woods, 2006, Royal Liverpool, Rd 2, 14th hole

Was this Tiger Woods’ greatest overall performance at a major championship?

His resounding 18-under-par victory certainly meant a great deal to him. It was his first major title since the death of his father Earl Woods two months earlier.

Woods hit 86 percent of fairways on his way to a second consecutive Open.

An eagle on the 14h hole, which played as one of the toughest holes during the week, on the Friday was his standout moment at Hoylake.

Padraig Harrington, 2008, Royal Birkdale, Rd 4, 17th hole

Harrington was faced with a dilemma on the 17th hole at Royal Birkdale.

The Irishman was two shots clear of the chasing pack and standing over his second shot in the swirling wind, he had to decide whether to risk going for the green with his second shot, or play it safe and lay up.

Harrington took many people by surprise and pulled a wood out of his bag.

His gutsy attempt ended up just four feet from the pin and he would drain the following putt for a vital eagle.

Henrik Stenson, 2016, Royal Troon, Rd 4, 15th hole

Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson produced one of the greatest final-round duels in major history at Royal Troon in 2016.

Stenson was pushed all the way by 2013 champion Mickelson as the pair mesmerised the crowds with some unbelievable shots.

The Swede broke all kinds of records on his way to victory and this 51-foot birdie putt from the edge of the green helped open a crucial two-shot lead.

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