Welcome to part three of our 2018 major championship decade in reviews. It’s coming home!
After doing the Masters and U.S. Open recaps, looking back on the last decade of Opens was an absolute treat. The last 10 years have provided us with many memorable moments, and the tournament has undoubtedly been the most exciting major championship as a whole.
Unlike the previous major recaps, this one will not rank the events. There have been too many good events to rank one as better than another. Instead, we are going to walk down memory lane and appreciate them all.
Welcome to the Open Championship
2008 - Reign of Padraig
July of 2008 was a dark time in golf. Tiger had just gone under the knife to fix his leg and missed a major championship for the first time since 1996. It was in his absence that a new hero arose.
Royal Birkdale and Mother Nature beat up the field for most of the first three rounds. Very few people were able to break 70, and the 54-hole leader was none other than Greg Norman. The Shark was 53 (and fully clothed) at the time, making him the oldest 54-hole leader in major championship history. He would falter on Sunday with a final round 77.
The man who did not falter was Padraig Harrington. The big Irishman played the final six holes in four under par and won by four shots. This was Harrington’s second straight Open Championship after outlasting Sergio at Carnoustie in ‘07. He would go on to win the ‘08 PGA Championship as well, capping an incredible run of major championship golf.
2009 - That Cinking Feeling
This one still eats me up inside.
The 2009 Open Championship was a weekend full of whispers and hope. One year after 53-year-old Greg Norman was in the mix, 59-year-old Tom Watson stepped to the tee on Sunday with the lead. (This is pre Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson so everyone still loved him)
Old Tom lost the lead early on Sunday to Lee Westwood but was able to recover on the back nine. Watson’s approach into 18 trundled over the back, leading to a bogey, and the playoff with Stewart Cink wasn’t even close.
Tom Watson’s last major championship was in 1983. He came so close to notching one 25 (!!!) years later, an event we will never forget.
2010 - “On the tee from South Africa, Looooeyyyy Oooooosthuizennn”
Long live Ivor Robson.
Every Open Championship at St. Andrews is special, but the 2010 edition featured some seriously exciting days.
Rory shot back-to-back rounds of 63 and 80 due to nearly gale force winds in the second round. Play was actually suspended for over an hour on Friday because balls were moving on the greens.
The tournament would belong to the Mattress King in the end. Louis shot rounds of 65, 67, 69, 71 to cruise to a seven-shot victory. He joined the likes of Ernie Els and Gary Player as South African Open Champions in extremely dominating fashion. He got to stroll over the Swilken Bridge with the Claret Jug essentially in his hands; perhaps the most enviable walk in golf.
2011 - One for the Old Guys
I’ll be honest, if we were ranking these by the most memorable, this would be near the bottom of the list for me. I love me some Darren Clarke, but his victory at Royal St. George’s didn’t stick with me.
The week started with English amateur Tom Lewis tying for the first round lead with Thomas Bjorn. It saw Dustin Johnson make a run at a major title, and Phil got within one shot of the lead on Sunday.
In the end, Darren Clarke coasted to a three-shot victory. Lefty and DJ tied for second and Thomas Bjorn held on for 4th place alone. That meant that three of the top four players were over 40 years old. With the amount of young talent in 2018, it seems unlikely that this will happen again in the near future.
2012 - 4 shots, The Worst Lead in Golf
The 2012 Open Championship will forever be remembered not for its champion, but for the runner-up.
Adam Scott started the week with 64, 67, 68 and went to the 1st tee with a four shot lead on Sunday. With that large of a lead, it would seem as though it could be a comfortable day for Scott. However, the names chasing him were Graeme McDowell, Brandt Snedeker, Ernie Els, and Tiger Woods.
Still, Scott went to the 15th tee with a four-shot lead over Ernie Els. Pedestrian golf on the way in would get it done. Bogey, bogey, bogey, bogey will not. The big Australian lost the lead to Ernie, who birdied 18 and captured his 4th major championship. Scott would get his revenge in April, winning the 2013 Masters.
2013 - The Frankenwood
Hold on to your hats, these are about to get good.
Zach Johnson and Miguel Angel Jimenez held the early round leads at the 2013 Open, but the rest of the leaderboards would be for the thoroughbreds (and Hunter Mahan if you’re into that sort of thing).
Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson, and Adam Scott. That is your Sunday leaderboard from the 2013 Open Championship.
Lee Westwood did as Lee Westwood does (sorry Andy), losing his lead early on Sunday. There were six to seven players within three shots of the lead at all times; then Phil happened. Lefty birdied 13 and 14 before hitting his specialized devil 2-wood type thing onto the par-5 17th in two shots. He birdied the final two and tackled the major he never thought he would win. Muirfield did not disappoint.
2014 - The Year of the Rory
It sounds crazy, but Rory McIlroy has been one of the best players in golf for nearly a decade. He burst onto the scene with his 2010 Wells Fargo 62 and dominated the 2011 U.S. Open and 2012 PGA Championship. Yet, 2014 has been his defining season.
Rory had twelve top 10s in 2014 on the PGA Tour to go along with a win on the European Tour. He also won the Open Championship, WGC Bridgestone, and PGA Championship in back-to-back-to-back starts.
He held the lead after every round of the 2014 Open and never let anyone get closer than three shots of him on Sunday. It was shear dominance, as was his season.
2015 - It’s Gone (to Johnson)
Back to the Old Course we go! The 2015 edition was such a great major because of the sheer volume of players that had a chance. Jordan Spieth was also looking to continue his grand slam march, and an amateur played in the final group on Sunday!
The main characters on Sunday were Louis Oosthuizen, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Marc Leishman, and Zach Johnson.
All the attention was on Speith’s attempt at his third straight major, but a 71st-hole bogey left him a shot short. Jason Day did the same, failing to make enough putts down the stretch. Paul Dunne, the Irish amateur in the final pairing, put on a valiant effort, but a final-round 78 left him falling down the leaderboard.
Johnson, Leishman and Oosthuizen headed to the four-hole playoff. Louis was going for his second straight St. Andrews victory, but it would go to Zach Johnson. ZJ captured his second major and his first since the 2007 Masters.
2016 - The Duel
I moved to Chicago on July 5, 2016. I lived in a studio apartment with a couch, a small table, and I could almost reach my stove from my bed. I did have a tv with 7 channels, and it came in handy on July 17, 2016.
The battle between Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson at Royal Troon Golf Club will go down as one of the best showdowns of all time. They were both -5 through 10 holes and were tied standing on the 14th tee. Stenson would go on to birdie four of the final five holes, shooting a remarkable final-round 63 (with 2 bogies).
With the performance these two put on, you would have thought the course was playing easy. Phil Mickelson beat third place by 11 shots.
The Stenson/Mickelson duel is an event that will stick with me. I’ll remember hooting and hollering all by myself in that studio with every shot. It was a remarkable occasion and something that does not come around often.
2017 - Go get that!
“What the hell is going on?” That is what many of us were thinking as Jordan Spieth was toiling around amongst the dunes of the Royal Birkdale driving range last year. It took him nearly 20 minutes to figure out how to play the next shot, and the rest was history.
Spieth started the day with a three-shot lead over Kuchar in search of his third major title. He struggled to four bogies on the front nine and surrendered his cushion. His ordeal on 13 led to a bogey and left Matt Kuchar on top. Then, the real fun started. He played the next four holes -5 and left with the Claret Jug.
As happy as I was for Spieth, I felt just as bad for Kuchar. He has numerous top 10s but has never notched a major victory. He had a 1-shot lead on 14, made two more birdies, and still lost by three.
An unbelievable story for an unbelievable championship.