Key anniversaries at the British Open

AP Golf WriterJuly 14, 2014 

— A look at some of the anniversaries at the British Open this year:

150 years ago (1864): Imagine if golf had a rivalry like this today: Willie Park Sr. and Old Tom Morris finished 1-2 in the first four British Opens, with each winning two. Morris went 1 up with his two-shot victory at Prestwick, this time over Andrew Strath. Most notable about this Open was the prize. Along with the championship belt, the winner received a cash prize — six pounds.

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125 years ago (1889): In the sixth and final Open held at Musselburgh, Willie Park Jr. and Andrew Kirkaldy tied at 155 over four rounds of nine holes. In the 36-hole playoff, Park shot 158 to win by five shots. The Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers left the nine-hole course at Musselburgh and went south to Muirfield. This championship was held on Nov. 8 in a gloom so severe that the last group was guided along by street lights. The Open moved to September the following year.

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100 years ago (1914): This was the end of an era, and a memorable one. Harry Vardon closed with a 78 at Prestwick to overtake J.H. Taylor and win by three strokes. It was his sixth Open title, which remains a record to this day. It also was the last Open for five years because of World War I. When the war was over, the Great Triumvirate of Vardon, Taylor and James Braid had all turned 50 and never won another claret jug. Francis Ouimet, the American amateur who won the U.S. Open at Brookline the previous year, came over to Prestwick and finished 26 shots behind.

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75 years ago (1939): Dick Burton holds a British Open record that one can only hope will never be broken. The claret jug was in his possession for seven years. This was the last Open held before World War II, and thus the Open did not resume until 1946. It was played at St. Andrews, and Burton fell back with a 77 in the third round. He closed with a 71 to overtake Johnny Fallon, who stumbled to a closing 79. Burton finished at 290 and won by two shots over Johnny Bulla.

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50 years ago (1964): "Champagne" Tony Lema became a rising American star when he won The Open in his first attempt at St. Andrews by five shots over Jack Nicklaus. Lema has won at Pebble Beach earlier in the year, and his Open victory was his fourth title in a six-week span. He wasn't sure he wanted to go, but Arnold Palmer loaned him his putter and his caddie (Tip Anderson), and Lema took it from there. How good Lema could have win sadly won't be known. He perished in a plane crash two years later.

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25 years ago (1989): Mark Calcavecchia, runner-up at the Masters a year earlier, captured his only major at Royal Troon in the first four-hole play at The Open. Calcavecchia closed with a 68 to make up a three-shot deficit to Wayne Grady. But the disappointment, as usual, belonged to Greg Norman. The Shark made up seven shots with a 64, and then reeled off two straight birdies in the playoff. Calcavecchia caught him with a par on the 17th. On the closing hole, Norman crushed a driver that ran some 40 yards on the firm turf and into a bunker. He went into another bunker, hit his third out-of-bounds and never finished the hole. Calcavecchia finished with a birdie. His first daughter was born a short time later. He named her Brittany.

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20 years ago (1994): Nick Price closed with a 66 at Turnberry for a one-shot victory over Jesper Parnevik to win his second major championship, this one sending him on his way to be No. 1 in the world the following month. But there was much more to this victory. Parnevik had a three-shot lead going to the 18th hole, but he didn't look at the scoreboard and thought he needed birdie to win. He played aggressively and made bogey for a 67. Behind him, Price birdied the 16th and then rolled in a 50-foot eagle putt on the 17th. A closing par gave him the claret jug.

10 years ago (2004): Todd Hamilton won his only major at Royal Troon, and while some might look at it as a surprise victory, he earned it as much as any major champion. Hamilton went head-to-head with Ernie Els over the final 40 holes, including four in a playoff. Els missed a 12-foot birdie putt for the win on the 72nd hole. In the playoff, Hamilton made four pars, the last one with a bump-and-run using a hybrid from 40 yards to 2 feet. Els missed a 15-foot birdie putt that would have extended the playoff. It was part of a demoralizing year for Els in the majors. He lost to Phil Mickelson in the Masters. He played in the final group at the U.S. Open and shot 80. The next month in the PGA Championship, he three-putted from long range on the 18th to miss a playoff by one shot.

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