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Harbour Town Golf Links

History Lesson

5 iconic British Open moments that happened at Muirfield


Mark Runnacles/R&A

For the first time, the AIG Women’s British Open will be played at Muirfield. Opened in 1774, the Scottish links has hosted 16 Open Championships (the first in 1892) as well as the Ryder Cup and Walker Cup matches. While Muirfield also has held the Curtis Cup in 1953 and 1984, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers only just admitted its first female members in 2019. At this week’s Women’s Open, the tour pros will be competing for the highest purse in the event’s history: $7.2 million.

As the field gets familiar with the course, let’s take a look back at the most iconic moments that have transpired at this historic course.

Nick Faldo, 1987

The first of three Open victories came in an unlikely fashion. He became the first Englishman to win the claret jug since Tony Jacklin in 1969 by making 18 pars in his final round. Faldo’s pure consistency led him to pass the 54-hole leader, Paul Azinger and secure the first of his three Open victories.


David Cannon

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Lee Trevino, 1972

Having won the Open the year prior at Birkdale, Trevino knew how challenging a repeat victory would be at Muirfield. Jack Nicklaus, trying to win his third major of the year, had made a furious final-round charge and was in the clubhouse one back of Trevino and Tony Jacklin as the pair played the par-5 17th hole. Trevino’s drive landed in a bunker and he struggled getting to the green. Left with a chip with a 9-iron to save par, he proceeded to hole the shot, while Jacklin three-putted from 18 feet for bogey. Jacklin bogeyed 18 as well, while Trevino parred the home hole to make it back-to-back titles.


Getty Images

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Phil Mickelson, 2013

Mickelson’s chances at winning the claret jug seemed slim to none considering the 43-year-old was five shots back of the leader Lee Westwood heading into Sunday. While those around him struggled, Mickelson made birdies on four of his final six holes to post a 66 defeat the likes of Henrik Stenson (by three), Adam Scott (four), and Tiger Woods (five). It was Mickelson’s lowest final round out of the previous 80 majors he had played.


Andy Lyons

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Gary Player, 1959

When Player asked for permission to practice at Muirfield 10 days before the Open Championship, he was met with hostility by secretary Colonel Brian Evans-Lombe. After some negotiation, he was able to play. This proved beneficial, considering he shot a 68 in the final round to give himself the clubhouse lead. A double bogey on the last hole left Player nervous he might have blown his chance at victory, but he was sure to put on his best appearance just in case. After finishing his round, he headed back to his hotel, took a shower and return in a white suit to receive the claret jug.


Central Press

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Jack Nicklaus, 1966

A third-round 75 left Nicklaus two shots back of Phil Rodgers entering the final round. It was Rodgers, though, who stumbled with a closing 76. In turn, Nicklaus shot a one-under 70 to win the Open for the first time and complete the career Grand Slam at age 26. So taken by Muirfield, which he described as the best course in Britain, that when he went on to build his signature golf course outside his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, he named it Muirfield Village.


Central Press