In Depth

The Open at Royal Birkdale - iconic moments from the course

Lancashire links hosts the 'world's greatest golf tournament' for the tenth time this year

The 146th Open Championship is taking place this week at Royal Birkdale in Lancashire.

It is the tenth time the course has hosted what that Daily Mail calls the "world's greatest golf tournament". The last time the contest was staged there, in 2008, Padraig Harrington successfully defended his Open title, seeing off the challenge of Greg Norman and Ian Poulter to triumph by four shots.

He was the first European to win The Open on the course, which has proved a happy hunting ground for US and Australian golfers.

Among the previous champions there are Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson. Australian Peter Thomson twice won on the course. 

"Links golf - on rugged sandhills linking the land to the sea - presents a particular test, where fresh winds, deep bunkers, rolling surfaces and deep rough challenges players to the end," says CNN. Birkdale is a "powerhouse" of a links course "with holes framed by towering dunes".

There have been some famous moments at the links over the years. Here are some of the best - starting with one from this year.

Mark O'Meara's toast (2017)

After winning The Open at Birkdale in 1998 the American was given the honour of getting the tournament underway on the first morning of this year's event. 

But the 60-year-old may have wished someone else had been entrusted with the task as he stepped up to the tee in wet and windy conditions and promptly sliced the very first shot of The Open out of bounds. He then hit a bunker and three-putted for a quadruple bogey.

It was a reminder that links golf poses the ultimate test and that Birkdale's opening hole is regarded as one of the toughest on The Open rota. 

Still, O'Meara at least came up with a memorable quote after his misfortune. "My day was toast and most people still hadn't had their breakfast," he said.

Harrington's eagle (2008)

The tournament was played in foul conditions and only four players finished with totals within ten shots of par for the week.

A final round of 69 was enough to secure the title for Harrington, who finished three over for the tournament.

"Harrington sealed victory with a daring five wood to set up an eagle at the treacherous par-five 17th, the penultimate hole of the championship," says the BBC. The club he used is now on display in the clubhouse.

Rose blooms (1998)

O'Meara triumphed, but the 1998 Open is best remembered for the emergence of Justin Rose. The 17-year-old amateur finished in fourth place and turned professional the day after the tournament ended.

His brilliant shot on the last hole went down in Open folklore.

"Mark O'Meara may have won his second major of 1998 but the quintessential memory will forever be Rose pitching in at the last," says National Club Golfer.

The Concession (1969)

The Ryder Cup was held on the course in 1969 and concluded with one of the great sporting gestures as Tony Jacklin and Jack Nicklaus shared the last hole. 

"A remarkably close competition at Royal Birkdale went right to the end with the USA and Great Britain level on 15-and-a-half each, with Jacklin and Nicklaus also level heading into the 18th following the Englishman's dramatic 35-foot eagle the hole before," says Sky Sports.

"Nicklaus then finished with a birdie to ensure there was nothing Jacklin could do with his two-foot putt to win, before the American picked up his opponent's marker and guarantee a draw in an incredible act of sportsmanship."

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