The British Open – Royal Birkdale


The British Open – Royal Birkdale – 2017

Why has Royal Birkdale produced such a strong roster of champions? Perhaps because many players consider Birkdale the “fairest” of the courses on the Open rota.

While there’s an infinite amount of opinions about what constitutes a “fair” test, Royal Birkdale’s flat fairways are one reason that many players give the course this assessment. Links courses are known for rolling fairways that were shaped centuries ago. These rolls and swales can lead to unpredictable bounces that can send straight shots bounding into pot bunkers or fescue. Players have less reason for anxiety when their ball lands at Royal Birkdale, though.

“You get much more consistent bounces, so the well-struck shots are rewarded and typically end up about where you would anticipate,” said Phil Mickelson, who made his Open debut at Royal Birkdale in 1991 (T73) while still an amateur.

Nine Open Championships have been conducted at Royal Birkdale. Seven were won by members of the World Golf Hall of Fame, and another one was claimed by a surefire inductee, three-time major winner Padraig Harrington. Lets hope the weather holds out.

Eight of the nine Opens at Birkdale were won by players who own multiple majors, and six were won by a player who hoisted the Claret Jug on more than one occasion, including two of the best links players in the history of the game.

Both Tom Watson (1983) and Peter Thomson (1965) claimed their fifth and final British Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. Thomson finished no worse than second in seven consecutive Opens from 1952-58 (four wins, three runners-up). Watson’s win at Royal Birkdale was his third Open victory in four years (1980, ’82, ’83).

The list of winners at Royal Birkdale:
1954: Peter Thomson
1961: Arnold Palmer
1965: Peter Thomson
1971: Lee Trevino
1976: Johnny Miller
1983: Tom Watson
1991: Ian Baker-Finch
1998: Mark O’Meara
2008: Padraig Harrington


Thursday Tee Times (ET)

1:35 a.m. — Mark O’Meara, Chris Wood, Ryan Moore
1:46 a.m. — Maverick McNealy, Phachara Khongwatmai, Stuart Manley
1:57 a.m. — Stewart Cink, Sandy Lyle, Jeunghung Wang
2:08 a.m. — Paul Broadhurst, Thongchai Jaidee, Roberto Castro
2:19 a.m. — Tom Lehman, Byeong Hun An, Darren Fichardt
2:30 a.m. — Soren Kjeldsen, Billy Horschel, Danny Willett
2:41 a.m. — Matthew Fitzpatrick, Steve Stricker, Emiliano Grillo
2:52 a.m. — Jason Dufner, Branden Grace, Bryson DeChambeau
3:03 a.m. — Alex Noren, Russell Knox, Ian Poulter
3:14 a.m. — David Duval, Prayad Marksaeng, KT Kim
3:25 a.m. — Younghan Song, David Horsey, Dylan Frittelli
3:36 a.m. — Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Charles Howell III, Shiv Kapur
3:47 a.m. — Russell Henley, Fabrizio Zanotti, Peter Uihlein
4:03 a.m. — Alexander Levy, Brendan Steele, Webb Simpson
4:14 a.m. — Wesley Bryan, Anirban Lahiri, Alfie Plant
4:25 a.m. — Darren Clarke, Gary Woodland, Harry Ellis
4:36 a.m. — Padraig Harrington, Pat Perez, Thomas Pieters
4:47 a.m. — Henrik Stenson, Si Woo Kim, Jordan Spieth
4:58 a.m. — Louis Oosthuizen, Justin Rose, Justin Thomas
5:09 a.m. — Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Tommy Fleetwood
5:20 a.m. — J.B. Holmes, Brandt Snedeker, Shane Lowry
5:31 a.m. — Richard Bland, Shaun Norris, Luca Cianchetti
5:42 a.m. — Yikeun Chang, Chan Kim, Mark Foster
5:53 a.m. — Sung-Hoon Kang, Tony Finau, Matthieu Pavon
6:04 a.m. — Alexander Bjork, Joe Dean, Robert Streb
6:15 a.m. — Robert Dinwiddie, Julian Suri, Adam Hodkinson
6:36 a.m. — Andrew Johnson, Adam Hadwin, Todd Hamilton
6:47 a.m. — John Daly, Adam Bland, Connor Syme
6:58 a.m. — William McGirt, Toby Tree, Jamie Lovemark
7:09 a.m. — Matthew Griffin, Austin Connelly, Matthew Southgate
7:20 a.m. — Cameron Smith, Bill Haas, Callum Shinkwin
7:31 a.m. — Michael Hendry, Brian Harman, Martin Laird
7:42 a.m. — Ernie Els, Ross Fisher, Bernd Wiesberger
7:53 a.m. — Tyrrell Hatton, Martin Kaymer, Aaron Baddeley
8:04 a.m. — Zach Johnson, Jason Day, Sergio Garcia
8:15 a.m. — Andy Sullivan, Joost Luiten, David Lipsky
8:26 a.m. — Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott, Paul Casey
8:37 a.m. — Matt Kuchar, Richie Ramsay, Ryan Fox
8:48 a.m. — Kevin Kisner, Charley Hoffman, David Drysdale
9:04 a.m. — Jimmy Walker, Hideto Tanihara, Thorbjorn Olesen
9:15 a.m. — Jhonattan Vegas, Brandon Stone, Sean O’Hair
9:26 a.m. — Daniel Berger, Pablo Larrazabal, Yuta Ikeda
9:37 a.m. — Paul Lawrie, Kevin Chappell, Yusaku Miyazato
9:48 a.m. — Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Charl Schwartzel
9:59 a.m. — Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed, Lee Westwood
10:10 a.m. — Phil Mickelson, Francesco Molinari, Marc Leishman
10:21 a.m. — Scott Hend, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Bubba Watson
10:32 a.m. — Paul Waring, Kyle Stanley, Kevin Na
10:43 a.m. — Giwhan Kim, Xander Schauffele, Andrew Dodt
10:54 a.m. — Haotong Li, Kent Bulle, Haydn McCullen
11:05 a.m. — Jbe’ Kruger, Nick McCarthy, Ashley Hall
11:16 a.m. — Ryan McCarthy, Laurie Canter, Sebastian Munoz

The course also hosted the Ryder Cup in 1965 and 1969. The latter ended in a tie after a famous illustration of Jack Nicklaus’ sportsmanship. The competition was tied as Nicklaus and Jacklin, playing in the final match, arrived at the 18th tee. Jacklin had just eagled the 17th hole to draw all square with Nicklaus. The winner of the final hole would win the Ryder Cup. Nicklaus conceded Jacklin’s two-foot putt on the final hole to halve their match, and end the competition in a tie. “”I don’t think you would have missed it, but I wasn’t going to give you the chance, either,” Nicklaus told Jacklin, who two months earlier had become the first British winner of The Open since 1951.

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