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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 July, 2004, 10:36 GMT 11:36 UK
The Open's modern era

Seve Ballesteros
Ballesteros won three Open titles

With Seve Ballesteros' victory at Royal Lytham in 1979, a new European flavour graced the Open.

It was the first of three titles for the young Spaniard, whose attacking brand of golf proved popular with the home fans.

But American Tom Watson remained a force to be reckoned with, winning three of the next four Opens to take his tally to five titles.

Texan Bill Rogers provided a blip in 1981 when he finished four shots clear of Bernhard Langer for the only Open success of his short career at the top.

In 1984, Watson's hopes of equalling Harry Vardon's record of six wins at the Open were dashed by Ballesteros, who holed from 20ft for a birdie on the final green to claim his second title.

The next year was even more dramatic as Sandy Lyle emerged from the pack on Sunday to win by the narrowest of margins at Royal St George's and became the first Scot since James Braid in 1910 to win the trophy.

Tiger Woods in 2000
Woods won by one of the biggest winning margins in history
After Australian Greg Norman's triumph in 1986, victories followed for Ballesteros and Nick Faldo to keep the European march on track.

But in 1989, Mark Calcavecchia restored American pride by beating Norman and Wayne Grady in the first four-hole play-off in Open history.

Norman was again in the thick of it as the new decade got under way, but could not match the form and steely concentration of Faldo.

It was the Englishman's fourth major title and two years later, after Ian Baker-Finch's win at Birkdale in 1991, he claimed his third Open title.

Faldo blitzed the Muirfield course, becoming the first person to break 200 for three rounds at the tournament and only the second British golfer since World War I to win the Open three times.

But Norman got himself into the history books 12 months later at Royal St George's by producing a best ever final round of 64, and finishing with 267, the lowest winning aggregate in Open history.

In 1994, Norman's best friend Nick Price of Zimbabwe squeezed out Jesper Parnevik for the title at Turnberry.

But the following four championships saw the American ascendancy return as John Daly, Tom Lehman, Justin Leonard and Mark O'Meara all clinched glory.

The Claret Jug returned to its roots in 1999 when 30-year-old Scot Paul Lawrie triumphed at Carnoustie, where overnight leader Jean Van de Velde let the title slip from his grasp by way of the Barry Burn.

The new millennium arrived with a roar as Tiger Woods became the youngest player to win all four majors after an eight-stroke victory at St Andrews.

His victory was so complete, many pundits believed Woods would dominate for years to come.

But nothing is predictable in golf, especially at the Open, as the last three years have proved with wins for David Duval, Ernie Els and, most surprisingly, Ben Curtis.





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