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Facts and figures about The Open Championship, the Club, the Course and more...
Posted on
May 8, 2018
Ben Brett in
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Facts and figures about The Open Championship, the Club, the Course and more...

• 2012 marks the eleventh playing of the Open Championship at Royal Lytham. Of the first ten Champions, three have been American (Bobby Jones in 1926, Tom Lehman in 1996 and David Duval in 2001), two have been South African (Bobby Locke in 1952 and Gary Player in 1974), two have been Spanish (Seve Ballesteros in 1979 & 1988), with one Australian (Peter Thomson - 1958), one New Zealander (Bob Charles - 1963) and one Englishman (Tony Jacklin - 1969).

• Lytham St Annes Golf Club was founded in March 1886 and the golf course laid out in 1897 by the Club's first professional, George Lowe. Between 1919 and 1922, the great Harry S. Colt was brought in to reposition some of the tees and greens and lengthen the course, and it remains broadly the same to this day.

• Harry Colt was also responsible for adding a great many of the strategically placed bunkers. The course today boasts 206, an average of over 11 per hole, with the 18th boasting 17 of them.

• In the 1996 Open at Lytham, Tiger Woods, still an amateur, made his first appearance in the UK and won the Silver Medal for the highest finishing amateur by tying for 22nd place with a score of 75-66-70-70 = 281, 10 strokes behind Champion Tom Lehman.

• No winner has ever gone wire-to-wire in the 10 Open Championships to date at Royal Lytham.

• 2012 sees the first time the Royal Lytham course will play over 7,000 yards, at 7,086 yards an a par 70. This is 'only' 451 yards longer than the shortest the course has played for an Open in the modern era, when it was 6,635 yards, par 70, in 1958. In 2001, the course measured 6,905 yards and was a par 71.

• The 1926 Open, the first at Royal Lytham, witnessed several other firsts. It was the first time regional qualifying was used to whittle down the entry to a manageable number, and the first time The Open was played over three days rather than two, with 36 holes on the last day. For the first time spectators were charged an admission fee (of 2/6 or half a crown - that's 12½p - the equivalent of around £6 today). At the age of 56, six-time Open Champion Harry Vardon missed his first cut, and Bobby Jones won his the first of his three Open Championships.

• In 1926, Bobby Jones also became the first and only Open Champion to have to pay to enter the course. In between the third and fourth rounds, both played on the Friday, Jones and his playing partner Al Watrous went back to their hotel, The Majestic, for a sandwich and brief rest. Returning to the course, Jones found he had forgotten his competitor's badge, and since the commissionaire on the gate did not recognise him, was refused entry. Jones calmly went to the spectators' gate, paid his 2/6 for a ticket and then went on to beat Watrous by two shots, having started the final round two behind.

• During the final round of 1926, Bobby Jones and Al Watrous, playing together, were level coming onto the 17th tee. Jones had the honour and drove well left into the sandy wasteland, while Watrous found the middle of the fairway. The referee deemed Watrous further from the hole, and he hit an excellent iron onto the front right of the green. Jones had 175 yards to carry to a blind green over nothing but scrub and trouble. He struck a perfect mashie (5-iron) which stopped quickly on the green, closer to the pin than Watrous who, unnerved, took three putts to drop one behind. Another dropped shot at the 18th left Watrous two behind and Jones was Champion. Years later, in 1944 and at Henry Cotton's suggestion, a plaque was set into the ground to commemorate Jones' miraculous mashie shot.

• The 1979 Open Championship at Lytham was host to Seve Ballesteros' famous 'car park' birdie, when his drive at the 16th in the final round found a temporary car park way right of the fairway. His ball came to rest under the wheel of a car and Seve was given a free drop from where he wedged the ball onto the green from 100 yards and sank a 20 foot putt for a birdie three. (Watch video here) That contributed to a last round 70, and a total of 283 for a three shot victory over Ben Crenshaw and Jack Nicklaus. Despite all his adventures, Seve was the only player under par for the week, and at just 22 was the youngest Open Champion in 86 years since Willie Auchterlonie won in 1893.

• The Chairman of the 1979 Open Championship Committee, Colin Maclaine, gave no doubt the best summary of Ballesteros' extraordinary final round: “That the winner, Severiano Ballesteros, chose not to use the course but preferred his own, which mainly consisted of hay fields, car parks, grandstands, dropping zones and even ladies’ clothing, was his affair. I’m afraid I can’t shed any light on the particular incident of the ladies’ clothing, but the car park was quite a story.”

• The Club was given 'Royal' status in 1926 by King George V, shortly before the Open Championship first came to Royal Lytham.

• Tony Jacklin's 1969 Open Championship victory at Royal Lytham was the first by an Englishman since Max Faulkner won at Royal Portrush in 1951, a gap of 18 years. It would be another 18 years before the next Englishman won - Nick Faldo at Muirfield in 1987.

• The first 'major' competition played over the course was the inaugural 1893 British Ladies Amateur Championship, won by Lady Margaret Scott, who would go on to claim a hat-trick of victories in 1894 and 1895.

• The most recent playing of the British Ladies Amateur Championship at Lytham was in 1993, when Scotland’s Catriona Lambert won the title. She would return to Lytham 16 years later in 2009 under her married name of Catriona Matthew and win the Women's British Open.

• Whether or not it is the origin of the phrase - usually reserved for match play - "two up and five to play never wins" is unclear, but Al Watrous was two ahead of his playing partner Bobby Jones on the 14th tee in the final round of the 1926 Open at Lytham, and lost the Championship by two shots.

• When Seve Ballesteros won the 1979 Open at Lytham, he was the first continental European to lift the Claret Jug since Frenchman Arnaud Massy in 1907.

• Royal Lytham has twice hosted the Ryder Cup, in 1961 and 1977, and to the Curtis Cup in 1976. The United States won on all three occasions.

• Commenting on his 'adventurous' but victorious final round 70 in the 1979 Open at Lytham, in which he took out the driver nine times and found the fairway only once, Seve Ballesteros said "I play good from the rough. I have plenty of practice."

• Royal Lytham has played host to four Women's British Opens in 1998 (Champion: Sherri Steinhauer), 2003 (Annika Sörenstam), 2006 (Sherri Steinhauer again) and 2009 (Catriona Matthew), the last three being recognised LPGA major championships.

• The 1974 Open Championship at Royal Lytham, won by Gary Player, was the first to be played with the 'American' 1.68 inch ball, all previous Opens having used the 1.62 inch 'British' or 'small' ball.

• The 1988 Open at Royal Lytham, marked by Seve Ballesteros' second victory, saw the first ever playing in 117 Opens of a final round on a Monday. Torrential rain early in the third round on Saturday caused a number of greens to flood, and play was abandoned, with all scores cancelled. Play resumed on Sunday with the third round, pushing the fourth into Monday.

• Of the 20 playoffs in the history of the Open Championship, two have occurred at Royal Lytham, both over 36 holes. In 1958, Peter Thomson beat Dave Thomas by four shots 139 to 143 to win his fourth Open title in a five year period, and in 1963 Bob Charles beat Phil Rodgers by eight shots 140 to 148.

• (Sir) Bob Charles' Open Championship victory in 1963, after a 36 hole playoff with Phil Rodgers, was the first major championship win by a left-hander. It would be 40 years until another left-handed major winner, when Mike Weir claimed the 2003 Masters, also in a playoff.

• The 1963 Championship at Royal Lytham was also the last occasion when The Open was decided by a 36-hole playoff. The playoff format officially changed to 18 holes in 1964, although this was not called into use until 1970.

• In winning the 2001 Open at Lytham, David Duval was able to shed the dubious title given to him by some as "best player never to have won a major".






July 2012

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