Francesco Molinari’s triumph at Carnoustie last week was one of the most memorable Open Championships in recent memory, but where does it rank among those that took place over the past decade?
10) 2010 at St Andrews
Louis Oosthuizen romped home at the Old Course despite trailing Rory McIlroy by two shots after the latter’s record-tying opening round of 63. McIlroy’s second round 80 really took the sting out of the event as a competition, however, as the South African and his majestic swing took St Andrews apart, winning by seven shots in the end – the largest winning margin since Tiger Woods’ eight in 2000.
9) 2014 at Royal Liverpool
Rory would eventually get his Claret Jug south of the border. The Ulsterman, fresh from calling off an engagement to tennis star Caroline Wozniaki, was in imperious form. He won wire-to-wire, and led by six shots heading into Sunday.
The gap was bridged by superb final rounds from Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler, but McIlroy won out by two shots, and followed it up with a PGA Championship win soon after.
8) 2017 at Royal Birkdale
Jordan Spieth was another wire-to-wire winner of The Open. Having won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and the Travelers Championship the week before, the brilliant Texan claimed the third leg of the Grand Slam by cruelly denying Matt Kuchar would would have been a popular win.
The event is best remembered for the Sunday controversy on the 13th hole, where after taking an unplayable lie, Spieth and his caddy spent 20 minutes traversing the course to find somewhere to take relief. Ending up on the driving range, he hit his third over a truck, making bogey and in the process, halting Kuchar’s momentum.
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 23, 2017
7) 2011 at Royal St Georges
One of the most popular Major wins came in the South East of England. Overcoming huge personal strife and years of bad form, Darren Clarke got the Major that his career so very much deserved.
The Dungannon man played his way into contention with a pair of 68s, taking the outright lead with a 69 on Saturday. The superstar trio of Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler were waiting to pounce if Clarke wilted, but once he made a 20 footer on the first for par on Sunday, you just knew that the difficult wind conditions wouldn’t faze the Irishman.
Johnson went out of bounds on the 14th attempting to make the par five green in two shots, but a double bogey squashed his chances.
6) 2015 at St Andrews
World number one Rory McIlroy withdrew prior to the tournament due to an off-course ankle injury, leaving Dustin Johnson to dominate proceedings for the first 36 holes. Not for the first time in an Open, DJ fell away, with Irish amateur Paul Dunne taking the 54 hole lead.
The Wicklow underdog was unable to maintain his advantage, finishing 13th, with Zach Johnson, Marc Leishman and Louis Oosthuizen contesting a three-way, four-hole playoff. Johnson claimed his second Major with a -1 total, one ahead of the 2010 winner and three ahead of Leishman.
5) 2013 at Muirfield
Phil Mickelson had won four Majors to-date, but The Open had eluded him over the past two decades. This run came to an end in spectacular fashion in 2013, as he clawed back a five shot deficit in difficult conditions.
His five under final round of 66 was the lowest of the day from the entire field, enough to win by three over Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter who shot a battling 67, and the likes of Lee Westwood (75), Tiger Woods (74) and Hunter Mahan (75), who struggled around the Scottish layout.
4) 2012 at Lytham & St Annes
There’s nothing like a good collapse to generate drama. Then known as the best active player not to have won a Major, Adam Scott held a four shot lead after 54 holes. But not only did the Aussie not win on Sunday, the second place duo of Brandt Snedeker and Graeme McDowell didn’t either.
Cue Ernie Els who was a huge six shots back. Els, who won his first Major in 1994, proved that class is permanent, with the legend shooting 68 to finish a shot ahead of Scott, who sensationally bogeyed the last four holes, missing an 8-foot putt on the last to force a playoff.
3) 2009 at Turnberry
If this fairytale story had come to pass, this would be top of an all-Major list, let alone an Open one. As it is, 59 year old Tom Watson just missed out on an all-time great victory. Watson, who won his second Open here at Turnberry way back in 1977, found himself in the lead for most of the tournament 32 years later.
Stewart Cink started three back on Sunday, and a -1 round of 69 was enough to force a playoff with Watson after his 72. The four hole playoff proved too much for the eight time Major winner though, who made a double bogey hole three en route to finishing +4. The villain of the piece in Cink birdied the last two holes to win by six strokes.
2) 2018 at Carnoustie
Last week’s stunner saw Kevin Kisner, Xander Schauffele and even Jordan Spieth falter under the pressure, as tough conditions on a brutal course finally took hold. This allowed some of the best in the game in Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose to set the clubhouse targets.
Tiger Woods was arguably the story of the event, briefly taking the outright lead of a Major on Sunday afternoon to send the golfing world into meltdown. Amid the madness, the in-form Francesco Molinari, who was three shots back, went bogey-free on Sunday – shooting a remarkable 69 to win by two strokes and cementing his place as a European Tour legend.
1) 2016 at Royal Troon
It’s a worthy precursor to one of the great displays of golf seen in this century.
Phil Mickelson shot the magic Major number of 63 to storm into the lead, as he looked to repeat his 2013 triumph. He still led after the second day, only to be joined atop the leaderboard by Henrik Stenson. The duo would proceed to have, in essence, their own 36 hole playoff, given that they were so far ahead of the entire field (by five and six shots respectively after round three).
Sunday saw Mickelson take an early lead, but the Swede rebounded with five birdies on the front nine, with a ‘lefty’ eagle keeping him in touch. Stenson’s second bogey on 11 saw them level once again as they traded blows on the back nine, but Stenson, now ‘the guy’ after Adam Scott won the 2013 Masters, wasn’t to be denied.
He birdied four of the final five holes to finish on -20 for an extraordinary final round 63, three ahead of Mickelson, who himself was a staggering eleven shots ahead of third placed J.B Holmes. Stenson’s 264 set a new major championship record, beating David Toms’ 265 in the PGA Championship in 2001. A fitting statistic for the greatest Open in this decade.