BBC Home
Explore the BBC
| Help
Last Updated: Sunday, 4 July, 2004, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
The Open: Post-war years

Peter Thomson
Thomson (left) won five times

After Dick Burton's victory in 1939, war meant golfers had to wait seven years for the Open to get up and running again.

On its return in 1946, Sam Snead kept up the American rate of success on a rare visit to St Andrews in Scotland.

The following year, Fred Daly became the first and only player from Ireland to collect the Auld Claret Jug, and 12 months later, Henry Cotton clinched his third and last Open title.

But between 1949 and 1959, the tournament was dominated by the southern hemisphere as South African Bobby Locke and Australian Peter Thomson captured four titles each.

The only interruptions to the Locke-Thomson reign were Englishman Max Faulkner's win in 1951, when the tournament made its only appearance in Northern Ireland, and American Ben Hogan's triumph two years later.

The end of the 1950s saw another South African, Gary Player, emerge just as his hero, Locke, was reaching the end of his career

Player's debut victory at Muirfield in 1959 was the first of three Open titles in the next 15 years, as he won again at Carnoustie in 1968 and for a last time at Royal Lytham in 1974.

In 1960, Arnold Palmer's plan to win the Open in its centenary year at St Andrews were scuppered when Australian Kel Nagle beat him by one stroke.

Jack Nicklaus (right) congratulates Tom Watson at Turnberry
The showdown between Watson and Nicklaus in 1977 was a classic
But the American legend returned the following year to win the first of two consecutive titles.

Bob Charles, Tony Lema, Jack Nicklaus and Roberto de Vicenzo also added their names to the illustrious roll of honour before the end of the 1960s, while victory in 1965 at Southport gave Thomson a historic fifth Open title.

The decade finished on a high for the home nation as Tony Jacklin held off Charles at Royal Lytham in 1969 for Britain's first success in 18 years.

Nicklaus grabbed his second title the following year at St Andrews, when Doug Sanders once again finished runner-up to the Golden Bear after missing a three-foot putt on the final hole.

Nicklaus won his final Open Championship in 1978 in a decade which also saw a double win for Lee Trevino, as well as successes for Tom Weiskopf and Johnny Miller.

But the decade also witnessed the emergence of one of the Open's greatest champions of the modern era.

Tom Watson's victory at Carnoustie in 1975 was to be the first of five historic wins in the tournament, putting the American alongside Thomson and James Braid as the only men to triumph five times in the 20th century.

His achievements were made even greater by the competition he faced, including Nicklaus at almost the peak of his powers.

Their head-to-head duel in 1977 at Turnberry, where Watson finished with two rounds of 65 to beat Nicklaus by a single shot, remains forever etched in Open folklore as the "duel in the sun".

Watson would carry his success through to the 1980s, although a whole new generation of exciting golfers was coming through the ranks, including a dashing Spaniard named Seve Ballesteros.

Links to more History stories



E-mail services | Sport on mobiles/PDAs | Headlines for your site


Back to top

Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability Sport | US Sport | Other Sport | Olympics 2004

Scores & Fixtures | Have Your Say | Photo Galleries | TV/Radio Listings

Sport Relief 2004 | Fun and Games | Question of Sport | BBC Sport Plus

Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales

BBC Sport Academy >> | BBC News >> | BBC Weather >>
About the BBC | News sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy | Contact us
banner watch listen bbc sport