The major host ground for The Open Championship 2021 once recorded Tiger Woods losing the ball for the first time, the golfer “underdog” but the champion and the player “collapsed”.

In 2003, Woods lost the ball on the opening shot of The 2003 Open at Royal St. George’s. He hit the rough grass to the right of the fairway on hole 1. The ball was still missing despite Woods being helped by the crowd. “The scene was a bit confusing when everyone was busy looking in the rough,” he commented at the time. It was the first time “Super Tiger” lost the ball after seven years of professional with eight majors including The Open 2000 in St Andrews, Scotland, which is considered the cradle of golf.

Woods and the members of the organizers looked for the ball but failed on the rough grass to the right of the fairway, hole 1 of Royal St.  George's at The Open 2003. Photo: AP

Woods and the members of the organizers looked for the ball but failed on the rough grass to the right of the fairway, hole 1 of Royal St. George’s at The Open 2003. Photo: AP

Replay of the first shot at Royal St. George’s, Woods still went into the rough before and closed the triple bogey – seven for a par4. But Woods’ entry wasn’t the worst of the day. Because in the opening round, Jerry Kelly didn’t miss the ball but lost a total of 11 strokes while 12 players scored a double bogey or worse in the first stage.

At the end of the tournament, Woods and Davis Love III finished T4 at +1, while Ben Curtis won at -1.

The last two times at RSG – 2003 and 2011, The Open recorded two “underdog” players to win the championship, including Curtis from the US and Darren Clarke from Northern Ireland.

Curtis entered the tournament as the 396th golfer in the world (OWGR table). At the beginning of that year, he was outside the top 1,000. On the closing day, he scored four bogeys through six holes in the back half but still finished first with a one-stroke difference between Bjorn and Singh.

And Clarke is 42 years old and has a 1 to 200 odds of winning at The Open 2011. The finish line, Clarke is at the top of the table and two strokes behind the eagle on the 7th hole. Just into the second half of Royal St. George’s, he still leads but is just one stroke away from Phil Mickelson. At that time, Dustin Johnson was ahead, two strokes behind Clarke on the 14th, par5 hole. However, Johnson was left out by crossing the field on his second shot with a 2 iron.

And Mickelson scored four bogeys from the 11th hole to the end of the game. Meanwhile, Clarke after the eagle on the 7th hole, kept the par streak to the end of the 16th hole, bogey the last two rounds. Clarke won at -5, Mickelson and Johnson finished T2, three strokes from the champion.

Clarke shocked when going from the group considered the least likely to win the title at The Open 2011 at Royal St.  George's.  Photo: Reuters

Clarke shocked when going from the group considered the least likely to win the title at The Open 2011 at Royal St. George’s. Image: Reuters

With 15 European Tour titles, Thomas Bjorn is the most successful Danish golfer. His record would have been different had it not been for the break at The Open 10 years ago, also at Royal St. George’s.

In the last round, Bjorn took a two-stroke lead after birdie on hole 14. Curtis went ahead of Bjorn, continuing to lose fire. However, it was Bjorn’s turn to fail, starting from the 15th hole bogey, “crashed” a double bogey because of a bunker on the right green of hole 16, par3. Here, it took him three shots to get out of the trap. Bjorn ran out of doors behind the bogey on hole 17. It wasn’t the first time he’d had a disaster with a bunker.

In the first game of the tournament, Bjorn received a two-stroke penalty for slamming his club into the bunker of the penultimate hole in anger out of a previous bad chip. Adding two penalty strokes, his real score on the 17th hole became a quadruple bogey despite actually fighting six strokes in the par4.

Bjorn finished T2 (even par), next to Vijay Singh. Eight years later, Bjorn reunited with The Open at Royal St. George’s, held the top of the table after 18 holes but finished fourth overall. Currently, the golf world takes the name Bjorn for the 17th hole bunker of Royal St. George’s.

Royal & Ancient (R&A) has owned and exclusively hosted The Open since 1860. This year’s tournament is in the 149th tournament, and the 15th takes place at Royal St. George’s, kicking off July 15 with a $11.5 million prize pool on par70. The event brings together 156 top players from major professional league systems around the world, of which Shane Lowry is the defending champion. Last year, the R&A canceled The Open because of Covid-19, so Lowry still holds the Claret Jug trophy from the time he was crowned at -15, six strokes away from runner-up Tommy Fleetwood in 2019.

Shane Lowry won The Open 2019 when the tournament took place at Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland.  Photo: Irish News

Shane Lowry won The Open 2019 when the tournament took place at Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland. Image: Irish News

The Open made its first visit to Royal St. George’s in 1894, and was the first golf course outside Scotland to host an R&A major. That year, golfer JH Taylor received 30 pounds for the championship after four rounds of 84-80-81-81 strokes respectively.

By The Open 1949, Royal St. George’s records Harry Bradshaw miss hole 5, second round. Bradshaw’s headshot into the rough, caught in the neck of a broken beer bottle. The rule allows him to release the ball without penalty. However, Bradshaw abandoned this method because he was not witnessed by the referee. Therefore, in order to avoid the risk of being disqualified for breaking the rules, he still played from the position he was in. The beer bottle shattered as Bradshaw tackled it with a wedge, then closed the double bogey. He later lost to Bobby Locke in a 36-hole playoff.

Quoc Huy


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