The 2013 British Open championship begins at Muirfield on July 18. Although this is the 16’th Open championship Muirfield has ever hosted, it is the first one since 2002. Nevertheless, Muirfield has been one of the most prolific sites in the tournament’s history, with countless big finishes and winners in the modern era alone. In fact, several legendary golfers have won their first Claret Jug at Muirfield, or their second or third.
Here is a list of all the historic events that have taken place in Muirfield’s storied British Open history during the post WWII era.
2002 Open Championship: Tiger Slam ends with 81
Muirfield’s last British Open was won by current defending champion Ernie Els in a playoff. However, the 2002 Open became more famous for being the first major that Tiger Woods lost in a year. After winning the Masters and U.S. Open — as well as the previous year’s British Open and PGA Championship — Woods seemed ready to cruise to a Grand Slam, until the elements finally stopped him with an unprecedented third round 81.
1987 Open Championship: Faldo pars towards first Claret Jug
Bad weather also played a part in the 1987 British Open, yet Nick Faldo rose above it. He didn’t make a birdie in the final round, but he didn’t have a bogey either, as 18 straight pars helped him hold off Paul Azinger and Payne Stewart for his first of five career major championships.
Nick Faldo 2
1992 Open Championship: Faldo avoids collapse for second Claret Jug
Five years later, Faldo returned to Muirfield and picked up right where he left off. Unlike in 1987, Faldo wasn’t as steady in the final round, as he almost blew a four-shot lead over John Cook. Yet he settled down over the final four holes and held on for his second Claret Jug, despite a final round of 73.
1980 Open Championship: Watson takes third Claret Jug
Tom Watson took his third British Open in 1980, in spite of shooting a 74 in the first two rounds. He charged into the lead with a 64 in the third round, cruising to a four-shot win over Lee Trevino.
1972 Open Championship: Trevino foils Nicklaus Grand Slam
Trevino couldn’t win at Muirfield in 1980, unlike in 1972 when he won one of the most memorable British Opens of all time. Like Tiger Woods 30 years later, Jack Nicklaus came to Muirfield after winning the year’s first two majors. Unlike Woods in 2002, Nicklaus made a furious charge to erase a six-shot deficit in the final round — yet Trevino made a long par putt at 17 and held on to win his second straight Open championship.
1966 Open Championship: Nicklaus wins first Claret Jug
Nicklaus had better luck at the 1966 British Open, as he birded and parred the 71’st and 72’nd hole to take a one-shot victory. He won his very first Claret Jug that year, and would go on to win two more in his career – despite seven runner-up finishes.
1959 Open Championship: Player wins first of many majors
Like Nicklaus in 1966, Gary Player won his first British Open at Muirfield in 1959. He erased an eight-shot deficit through two rounds and survived a double bogey at the 72’nd hole for a two-shot win. It was the first major victory in Player’s career, and he would go on to win eight more — including two more Open championships.
1948 Open Championship: Cotton takes third and last Claret Jug
Muirfield’s first British Open after WWII resulted in the final Open title for Harry Cotton. He cruised to a five-shot win largely on the strength of a second round 66, while no one else finished below par. It was his third and last triumph at the Open championship.