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1977 Tom Watson Wins The Open At Turnberry


Tom Watson wins his second Open Championship at Turnberry. The official film documents The 106th Open and the famous Duel in the Sun.

The Legendary 1977 Open Championship: The Duel in the Sun

The world of golf is filled with memorable moments, but few tournaments have left as indelible a mark as the 1977 Open Championship.

Held from July 6th to 9th on the Ailsa Course at Turnberry, Scotland, this tournament was the 106th edition of the prestigious event.

The stage was set for an epic showdown, and it delivered in spades.

Tom Watson’s Triumph

The 1977 Open Championship was a defining moment in the career of Tom Watson, who went on to win five Open titles in his illustrious career.

Watson’s victory in this tournament was his second Open title and is still considered one of the finest tournaments ever played in the latter half of the 20th century.

The “Duel in the Sun”

The showdown between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus in the final two rounds of the tournament became legendary and earned the nickname “Duel in the Sun.”

Both players separated themselves from the rest of the field under clear skies, creating a riveting spectacle that golf enthusiasts still talk about to this day.

Historic Performances

The second round of the 1977 Open Championship saw Mark Hayes rebound from an opening 76 (+6) with an astonishing 63, setting a new single-round record at The Open Championship by two strokes.

The previous record of 65 had stood since 1934, when Henry Cotton achieved it at Royal St. George’s.

Weather Delays and American Dominance

Despite some brief interruptions due to lightning during the third round, the Americans dominated the final leaderboard.

They filled the top eight spots and secured eleven of the first twelve positions.

The first page of the leaderboard was studded with future members of the World Golf Hall of Fame, emphasizing the caliber of talent in the tournament.

The Thrilling Finale

In the final round, Jack Nicklaus initially took a three-stroke lead over Tom Watson after four holes, but Watson mounted an impressive comeback.

Watson birdied three of the next four holes to pull even, only to bogey the ninth and fall one stroke behind at the turn.

The 12th hole saw Nicklaus go two strokes ahead, but Watson responded with birdies on the 13th and the par-3 15th.

The climax came at the reachable par-5 17th.

Nicklaus missed the green but executed a brilliant chip to four feet from the cup.

Watson, on the other hand, missed an eagle putt but secured a birdie. Nicklaus two-putted for par, going one stroke down with just one hole to go.

The 18th hole witnessed a dramatic finale.

Watson’s precision with a 7-iron approach put him in an ideal position, while Nicklaus faced trouble after going into the rough.

The tension was palpable as Nicklaus sank a remarkable 35-foot putt for birdie, while Watson needed a birdie to secure the win.

In a display of nerves of steel, Watson sank the two-footer for his second consecutive 65 and clinched his second Open title and third major title.

A Legendary Finish

Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus finished well ahead of their competitors and shot the same score every day, except for the electrifying Saturday.

The third-place finisher, reigning U.S. Open champion Hubert Green, was a distant ten strokes behind Nicklaus, who would go on to win his third Open the following year at St. Andrews.

Steve King of Fore King Golf

Steve King

Steve King is a UK based golf blogger, who shares online golf coaching that he created with his good friend Richard Lawless (PGA Professional)

Steve plays most of his golf in his home county of Wiltshire, in the UK. Read more about Steve