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Where Are They Now? The Most Random Winners Of The Open

Where Are They Now? The Most Random Winners Of The Open
By Daniel Kelly
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The Open is the oldest and most famous tournament in the world.

Although the greats of the game such as Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Gary Player, Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo won the Claret Jug on at least three occasions each, there have been some unheralded champions.

Will another outsider be victorious on Sunday evening at Royal Birkdale?

Todd Hamilton - 2004

12 months after Curtis won at Royal St. George's, another unlikely American was victorious at Royal Troon.

Todd Hamilton defeated Ernie Els in a four-hole playoff to win his only major title. It remains his only top-ten finish in a major.

Despite being in the top-50 of the World Rankings at the start of 2004, Hamilton was based predominantly in Asia, and was a star on the Japan Golf Tour, winning four times the year before.



At Troon, he became a contender after the second round, and went into the weekend just three shots off the lead. A third round of 67, gave him the lead going into Sunday's final round where he was partnered with Els.

Having played in only three Opens in the previous 12 years and making only one cut, the American was at the centre of golf's universe as he went into the back-nine on Sunday in a three-way tie with Els and Phil Mickelson.

Hamilton increased his lead to two shots with two holes remaining, but a bogey on the final hole almost handed Els the title. The two men went to a playoff, where the American parred all four holes to win by a stroke.


Since that win, the 51-year-old Texan has not won another tournament. Last year, he turned 50 and joined the Champions Tour, where he continues to play.

Ben Curtis - 2003

Starting the week at #396 in the World Rankings, Ben Curtis turned up at Sandwich to make his major debut.

A successful amateur player, Curtis had failed to win as a professional before he arrived in England to take his Open bow. By the end of the week, he would be the Champion Golfer of the Year.


Two opening rounds of 72, left Curtis just three shots off the lead in a tie for fourth place. A third round of 70, closed the gap on Thomas Bjorn to two shots, but he would make his move in the final round.


Starting in the penultimate group, Curtis quickly moved into the lead and birdied five on the opening 11 holes. The final seven holes were a little more difficult though as he four bogeys to finish on -1.


On the 16th, Bjorn took three attempts to escape a greenside bunker, that all but handed Curtis the Claret Jug. It was also the Ohio native's first top-ten finish on Tour.


Although Curtis is best remembered for his 2003 heroics, he has had a successful career. He could have won a second major title at the 2008 PGA Championship.

Leading with four holes to go, he eventually finished in second place behind Padraig Harrington. Part of America's 2008 Ryder Cup-winning team, Curtis has also had three further wins on the PGA Tour.


Paul Lawrie - 1999

The 1999 Open is best remembered for the 72nd hole implosion of Jean van de Velde, but it was Scotland's Paul Lawrie who lifted the Claret Jug.

Six years before winning his sole major, he had a top-six finish at The Open, but his Carnoustie triumph remains one of the most surprising wins in living memory.

The Scot began the final round, ten shots behind the leader van de Velde. Lawrie was never at the top of the leaderboard until the French player triple-bogeyed the final hole.



Amid brutal conditions at the Scottish links, Lawrie was one of only three players in the top-nine to shoot a sub-par round and the only player to record a round in the 60s.

As van de Velde walked up the final hole, Lawrie was the clubhouse leader, but he was three-shots behind the Frenchman and one behind Justin Leonard.

Somehow both men failed to make par, and what ensued was a three-man playoff over four holes. Despite starting the day as an afterthought, Lawrie would win comfortably from Leonard and a dejected van de Velde.

He became the first Scot to win The Open in Scotland for nearly 100 years.

After Lawrie's major, he went on to have a successful career. Two Ryder Cup appearances and a handful more of European Tour titles have made the 48-year-old as one of the most respected players on the Tour.

Bill Rogers - 1981

Over the space of six months in 1981, the stars aligned for Bill Rogers, in a way that had not been seen before.

The Texan won the only major of his career at Royal St. George's with a four-shot win over Bernhard Langer. Rodgers became the leader in the second round and he never looked back.

Such was Rogers' dominance at Sandwich, he was the only player to finish under-par.


Over the course of his career, Rogers only won six titles on the PGA Tour. Four of those (including The Open) came in 1981. It could have been even better, if he did not finish second at the US Open in the previous month.

In the years after Rogers' win at Sandwich, he faded away from the game. 1983 saw one more PGA Tour win and a top-ten finish at The Open.

Now aged 65, Rogers lives in Texas with his place secured in the history of The Open.


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