July 15, 2009
All week, we're looking back at some of the most memorable British Opens in history. Today, we return to the mid-90s, when a mulleted wonder took the golf world by surprise.
John Daly wasn't an unknown commodity in 1995; he'd already won one major and had a rep as a booming monster. What he brought to the Old Course that year was a surprising short game, one that kept him in the mix and allowed him to capture the claret jug.
The story: Daly held the first-round lead with luminaries Ben Crenshaw and Tom Watson, and held on for Day 2 as well. But on the third day, Daly dropped four strokes back and appeared destined to fade into the pack.
However, third-round leader Michael Campbell fell apart on the final day, and Daly and Constantino Rocca battled it out for the championship. Daly apparently sewed up the championship when Rocca needed a birdie on 18 to tie and found himself facing a 65-foot putt. But in one of the most astonishing shots in Open history, Rocca swirled the putt in to force a four-hole playoff.
Like a team that gasses itself just getting to the postseason, however, Rocca had nothing left. He finally found himself in the bunker of the Road Hole, No. 17, and couldn't get out until his third attempt. Game, set, match, open: John Daly. Here's a little video for your review; the monster putt is at about the 1:30 mark. Check Daly's reaction; he looks straight out of an '80s hair band ballad video:
There were two other landmarks in this particular Open. It was the final British Open played by Arnold Palmer, who missed the cut, and the first one played by a guy named Tiger Woods, who made the cut but was never in any kind of contention.