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  1. Birkdale Golf Club was Formed

    • Birkdale Golf Club was Formed

    Birkdale Golf Club was Formed

    On 30 July 1889, nine gentlemen met at the home of Mr J C Barrett and it was here that they took the unanimous decision to form themselves into a Club, to be called the Birkdale Golf Club. The founder members at the first meeting were Messrs George Crowther, R L Worsley, Digby Johnson, John Coney, RG Hayward, W M Simpson, B R Simpson and W W P Shatwell. The somewhat daunting task that they set out to achieve was "to make all necessary arrangements and incur all necessary expense as to preparing the course and greens, hiring a professional and providing suitable accommodation for a Clubhouse etc."

    Mr Weld Blundell offered ground in Liverpool Road at the annual rent of £5 and in return was invited to become the first President of the Club. It was formally agreed that the opening day would be Saturday 5 October. The Treasurer would provide "whiskey and aerated waters" for the opening ceremony and Mr R G Hayward was elected to be the first captain.

    On the 23 December 1889 the members of the Club voted unanimously in favour of allowing ladies to use the links, "on and not exceeding three days each week, but not on a Saturday or Bank Holiday." The original 9 hole course was on Shaw Hills, behind Bedford Road to the south of East Ward. In 1897 the Club moved to the Birkdale Hills where an 18 hole course was constructed.

    The Birkdale Golf Club was an enlightened place. From the earliest days women have played a prominent part in the history of Birkdale. The first lady members were elected in 1890 and the ladies' section has remained, ever since, an integral part of the Club. In fact one of the first tournaments held at Birkdale was the 1909 Ladies' British Open Match-Play Championship, won by Miss Dorothy Iona Campbell.

  2. Decision to move to Birkdale Hills

    • Decision to move to Birkdale Hills

    Decision to move to Birkdale Hills

    A meeting of four members held at 17 Sweeting Road, Liverpool, on 11 September 1894, resulted in one of the most significant entries in the original Minute Book. "Three o'clock at the Estate Office was fixed for going over the new links on Monday September 17."

    This is the first time that "new links" are mentioned, but it took three years for all doubts to be removed from the minds of the Committee members that the move was worthwhile. The reasons for hesitation now seem amusing enough for repetition. It was thought that the game of golf might prove to a passing fashion, a temporary craze "like ping-pong". And it was even feared in some quarters that if the Mersey silted up, the American liners might some day have to leave from Ainsdale, resulting in a considerable rise in the value of the land!

    The annual rent for the new links was set at one hundred pounds. However, there were teething problems. The original Clubhouse built in 1897 had to be demolished in 1903. "Someone had blundered", the building being beyond the boundary of the land leased by the Club! A new permanent Clubhouse was opened on 30 September 1904, on a sandhill overlooking the then 18th, now 4th, green from the seaward side. This remained in service until 1935.

  3. Development of the Links

    • Development of the Links

    Development of the Links

    In 1922 the Club sought to buy the course from Mr. Weld Blundell, but the asking price of £19,000 was considered to be too high. Southport Corporation eventually became the new owners and fears that they would take over the course were thankfully groundless and a seven-year plan was put into operation to prepare the course for Championship standard.

    This involved the building of a new Clubhouse (which was opened in the summer of 1935), and also a grand remodelling of the design of the course. The Club employed a company called Hawtree and J H Taylor Ltd, one being a prominent golf course architect and the other a player who had dominated the Open Championship during the 20 year period immediately prior to the First World War. Their philosophy was to lay out holes in the valleys between the sand hills rather than over them. This enabled Birkdale to gain the reputation of being one of the fairest of the championship courses. They designed a course which was tough but fair. It rewarded the straight hit but punished the wayward shot with its surrounding buckthorn and dwarf willow scrub. The fairways threaded through the valleys and this left the mighty sand dunes as perfect natural vantage points for spectators.

    This legend adorned the wall of the first Clubhouse, and is a fitting reminder to all of the responsibilities incumbent on golfers of every generation,

    "As the earth is not meant to be carted away The divots you cut in the course of your play Should be neatly replaced by your caddie or you, with their roots to the earth and their blades to the blue"

    In the sixties, with the growing popularity of golf as a spectator sport, drastic changes were made after the 1961 Open: updating the Clubhouse, and catering for the vast hordes of people who wanted to partake in the atmosphere around the links. These vast legions needed to watch play in comparative ease and comfort without hindering play. The course was extensively updated; Hawtree and Taylor could not have envisaged the rise in popularity of the game.

    It had been appreciated for several years that there were underlying problems with the greens and after the Open Championship in 1991 the club took the brave decision to dig up, re-design and relay all 18 greens. The considerable capital investment has ensured that Royal Birkdale remains one of the finest links courses in the world. Worthy of mention is the fact that in the 1998 Golf World "Top Courses in the British Isles" Royal Birkdale was rated number one.

    The Clubhouse extended and modernised throughout its life stands like a majestic ship overlooking the 18th green. The view of it from the left of the 18th shows it in its full glory. The views from the enormous bay window in the mixed lounge give an impressive view over the course, and on the Sunday afternoon of the Open it is a very exciting place to be.

  4. New Clubhouse Built

    • New Clubhouse Built

    New Clubhouse Built

    The changes to the clubhouse were even more radical than those to the course, as both the new site and the building were entirely new. The new two-storey clubhouse, with elegant lounges was to be built behind the new 18th green. It was very modern and was a typical example of the architecture of the period. By the summer 1935 the clubhouse was completed and was officially opened.

  5. The Amateur Championship

    • The Amateur Championship

    The Amateur Championship

    The first post-war championship was played at Birkdale during May 1946. In the final contested between James Bruen and Robert Sweeny they had to endure mixed weather, blustery wind in the morning and heavy rain after lunch. But the power of Bruen allied with some decisive putting saw him win through with a margin of 4 and 3. The Club received widespread praise at the conclusion of the Championship, not least for the fact that Scotch whisky, which was at the time in very short supply, was available for sale to visitors, as well as members in the clubhouse bars.

  6. The Curtis Cup

    • The Curtis Cup

    The Curtis Cup

    No one was unduly surprised when the brave British ladies were beaten by a decisive margin of 6.5 to 2.5 matches. Probably more surprising than the result was the non-selection of local hero Frances Stephens from the British team. It was reflected that her omission cost the team one or maybe two points.

  7. The Walker Cup

    • The Walker Cup

    The Walker Cup

    The United States had only once tasted defeat in the twelve meetings of the Walker Cup since 1922. But despite what seemed like favourable weather conditions and a player of the calibre of Ronnie White, who had known the links since his childhood, the home team were to come home in second place once again. The singles matches were lost 4-3, with one halved, which made the final aggregate 6-3 in favour of the US. The result may have gone against Great Britain but there were displays of skill and determination which would augur well for future meetings of the two nations.

  8. A Royal Command

    • A Royal Command

    A Royal Command

    On 11 November 1951 an important notice was posted by the then Captain H F Simpson, "I have the honour to announce that His Majesty The King has been graciously pleased to Command that the Club shall henceforth be known as The Royal Birkdale Golf Club." This reflected the growing stature of the Club and enabled it to become one of the finest clubs not only in the British Isles, but also in the world.

  9. Open Championship

    • The Open Championship

    The Open Championship

    Peter Thomson became synonymous with Royal Birkdale. He won the first and last of his five titles there, and at the age of 41 tied for 9th behind Lee Trevino in 1971 in one of his last bids to match Harry Vardon's record of six Open wins. He first played in the Open in Faulkner's year of 1951 at Royal Portrush, finished second to Locke at Royal Lytham the following year, and then shared second place with the luckless Dai Rees, Tony Cerda from Argentina and the American amateur Frank Stranahan in Hogan's never-to-be-forgotten triumph at Carnoustie in 1953.

    The following year, Royal Birkdale hosted the Open for the first time, the War having prevented them from first doing so in 1940. Here then came the young Thomson, facing perhaps a none-too-strong US challenge in those days, and regrettably minus Hogan defending his title.

    Nevertheless, the field included Jimmy Demaret, Jim Turnesa, the evergreen Gene Sarazen, and the ever-present Stranahan complete with barbells and weights that were his essential body-building travelling companions of those early days.

    Surprise early leaders in the Open are obligatory, and 1954 produced the unknown Bill Spence - "Tom" to many. He came up from Dartford in Kent, and his members had clubbed together to send him on the trip. He did them proud by leading the first two rounds with 141, handing over at 54 holes to Thomson, Syd Scott, and Rees.

    It was Scott who set the final target of 284. Rees, who was destined never to achieve his dream of an Open title, needed four to head Scott, went through the green and up the famous Birkdale bank at the back, chipped back wide and took five. Thomson, out in 35, could afford to take five at the 18th to win, and did - although Locke provided a heart-stopping moment, striding down the 18th fairway with that recognisable tread, needing three to tie. He missed from 12 yards for it. Thus Thomson was the Open Champion for the first time. He was to sweep them aside again in 1955 and 1956 for a memorable hat-trick, and added.

  10. PGA Match-Play Championship

    • PGA Match-Play Championship

    PGA Match-Play Championship

    The ground was hard and the weather was good in the summer of '59, and this made a surprise result almost inevitable. Harry Weetman, the defending champion was probably expected to win again, but it was David Snell who made a good start from which Weetman was never to recover. Snell, a model of consistency, was five up with five to play and eventually emerged a surprising but worthy winner by a margin of 3 and 2.

  11. Open Championship

    • The Open Championship

    The Open Championship

    In 1961 came Arnold Palmer, and with him undoubtedly the renaissance of the Championship as a truly international event - which is not to detract from Thomson's dominance of his contemporaries. Few will argue that the stature of the modern Open had its roots in the charisma and media exposure, two decades and more ego, of the trio they called the Big Three - Palmer, Player and Nicklaus. Player had won at Muirfield in 1959, and Palmer, who had failed by a shot to catch Thomson's compatriot Kel Nagle at St. Andrews in the Centenary Open of 1960, now pitched his camp at Southport. It was an Open plagued by appalling weather which not only caused devastation to tents and marquees, but stretched quite a few administrative tempers as well. A fierce mixture of gales and storms led to the cancellation of Friday's last two rounds and an unprecedented announcement by the R & A. The Championship, they said, must end on Saturday whether four rounds had been completed or not.

    Despite the weather, the golf was still memorable. Dai Rees jointly led the first round with Harold Henning and Nagle on 68, and he was still with Henning at 142 on a second day when he had the better of the weather and Palmer fired a 73 in the worst of it, with a seven (including a penalty shot) when his ball moved in a bunker. Palmer's play in the gale in the second round was considered among his finest. This plaque was erected to commemorate an awesome second shot at the 16th.

    The third round on Friday morning, following a night of fierce gales, was cancelled and on Saturday morning Rees opened with a disastrous seven in a yet magnificent round of 71. The inexorable Palmer was round in 69, and in the afternoon was three shots to the good with nine to play. Rees covered the last nine holes in 31. He birdied the 15th and 16th, and got down in three at the very last hole where seven years previously he had taken five and had lost to Thomson by a shot. Now he had lost again - to Palmer by a shot - and he was never again to get so close.

  12. Open Championship

    • The Open Championship

    The Open Championship

    Following the 1961 Open, extensive alterations and additions were made to the clubhouse, and "spectator walkways" were carved out on the course by re-siting tees and re-fashioning holes. It was the perfect setting for Thomson's historic fifth victory of 1965.

    In what was the last of the three-day Championships, the 35-year-old Australian overcame the strongest of international fields which included the defending champion Tony Lema, Palmer, Player, Nicklaus, de Vicenzo, plus fellow-countrymen Nagle and Devlin, who was to return the next year and win the Carling World title.

    It was a triumph for the shot-maker over the power game. Thomson - and there was none better at it - steered his way round the 72 holes, "playing the course", scorning an opening 74 against Lema's 68 to win eventually by two shots from Huggett and O'Connor. Two behind Lema and Devlin (140) at halfway, he went one in front with a round to go, despite a 5-5-5 start to his third round of 72.

    There was probably never such a log-jam as there was on that Friday afternoon when they lined up for the last round. There was Thomson on 214, Lema and Devlin on 215, Palmer, O'Connor and de Vicenzo on 216, Nagle and Huggett on 217. All in all, 13 players had the chance to win.

    Thomson won it with his second shot to the 510 yards 17th which hit the flag at a time when he was just a stroke ahead. Afterwards, with the best in the world defeated and a fifth Open title in the record books, Peter described it as "my greatest win".

  13. Ryder Cup

    • The Ryder Cup

    The Ryder Cup

    The golfers and spectators enjoyed an Indian summer in 1965 as the first Ryder Cup at Royal Birkdale was played out. The home team were in with a chance at the end of Friday, but the singles matches were won convincingly by the Americans. Finally, it had been between Boros and Palmer as to which should be the one to win the Cup for their country. There was very little in it, but the latter's shot to the 18th green is worthy of mention. The pin was positioned behind the left-hand bunker, but Palmer, undaunted, hit a 3 wood with the perfect amount of draw to within four feet. At the end of the day, the disappointed thousands dispersed, but many returned four years later to witness a drama of even more epic proportions enacted over the Royal Birkdale links.

  14. Ryder Cup

    • Ryder Cup

    Ryder Cup

    For quality of performance and sustained excitement over three days and 32 games, during which the pendulum swung back and forth, first in favour of one team and then the other, the Ryder Cup Match played at Royal Birkdale in September 1969 must undoubtedly rank as one of the greatest sporting events of all time. The bookies rated Britain's chances as no better than 4 to 1 against, yet the match was even and went right down to the wire. On the final day at the 17th Tony Jacklin scored a majestic Eagle Three, which set up a thrilling final hole. For the first time ever a Ryder Cup match was halved and Tony Jacklin's final miss able putt on the 18th conceded by Jack Nicklaus to half the game and the match was a gesture of supreme sportsmanship which has never been forgotten.

  15. The 100th Open Championship

    • The 100th Open Championship

    The 100th Open Championship

    Royal Birkdale first saw Lee Trevino when he played in the Alcan Golfer of the Year Championship in 1968; he returned in 1971, having won the US open for the second time, and had followed it with the Canadian Open. The question was whether he could complete a hat-trick of titles in the space of four weeks with victory at Birkdale. He told us, "It will be a miracle, but I believe in miracles." - and a miracle he performed.

    The 1971 Open will forever belong to Trevino and to Mr. Lu, whilst taking nothing from the tenacity of Tony Jacklin in finishing third, nor from the splendid effort of Craig DeFoy, who surprised everyone with his fourth place.

    Lu Liang-Huan from Taiwan was already an established figure in Asian golf, had played in the British Open back in 1964, and was not entirely a newcomer to the golf scene. But the crowds that flocked to the course, and millions who watched on television, took him to their hearts as he acknowledged the applause for birdies and eagles with the polite raising of a hat, which they thought was part of his Taiwanese wardrobe but which in fact he had bought that week from Bobby Halsall's shop!

    It all happened on the last day. Trevino had jointly led with Jacklin for two rounds, then went a shot in front of Tony and Mr. Lu with a round to go. With five 3s from the 3rd to the 7th , and out in 31, Lee was coasting home until Birkdale exacted its revenge at the 17th. There he drove into the sandhills, took two more to get back on to the fairway, and down went an ugly seven. Lu's five cut the deficit to one shot.

    At the 18th Mr. Lu pulled his drive into the crowd, felling and concussing the on looking Mrs. Lillian Tipping from Littleborough in Lancashire. She was rushed to hospital, where she was examined but not detained. It did not end there. Three years later at Royal Lytham, Mr. Lu personally met up with her for the first time, and a few years after that Mrs. Tipping and her husband were flown out to Taiwan for a holiday at Lu's own hotel!

    Trevino duly won by a shot to join immortals such as Jones, Sarazen and Hogan who had won the US and British Opens in the same year. He was to retain his title at Muirfield 12 months later.

  16. Open Championship

    • The Open Championship

    The Open Championship

    In 1976, the passage of five years brought another two-man battle, this time settled only by a great last round of 66. In heat wave conditions, which saw fire break out on the course, Johnny Miller won by the widest Birkdale margin of six shots from Nicklaus and a young Spaniard by the name of Severiano Ballesteros, just 19.

    Seve was joint leader at Round 1, clear leader by two shots at Round 2, and still two ahead after the third round, in which US Open champion Jerry Pate shot a mind-blowing 87!

    Youth understandably faltered at the last hurdle. Ballesteros could not sustain the challenge in the telling final run-in. Miller went out in 33, birdied the 12th, eagled the 13th, and finished with a flourish with two more birdies. Ballesteros could only manage a 74, but this was just the start of an illustrious Open career. Interestingly Peter Dawson holed in one at the 4th, the first by a left-hander in the Open.

  17. Colgate PGA Championship

    • Colgate PGA Championship

    Colgate PGA Championship

    The PGA Championship played in May '78 produced a result to gladden the hearts of all supporters of British golf. Conditions were perfect on the final day and the leader going into those last eighteen holes was Nick Faldo with a four-stroke advantage over Howard Clarke and Peter Townsend. As Clarke and Townsend gradually fell away Faldo's confidence grew; and with an eagle at the 15th and birdies at the 17th and 18th he was totally unassailable. The twenty-year-old Faldo's victory, his first success in a 72-hole professional event, made him the youngest winner of a professional tournament since Bernard Gallagher had taken the Schweppes Championship nine years earlier. It is most fitting that Faldo's long and illustrious career took off with his first victory at The Royal Birkdale Golf Club.

  18. Ladies British Open Championship

    • Ladies British Open Championship

    Ladies British Open Championship

    The first Ladies' Open to be held at Birkdale was won by an amateur, Marta Figueras-Dotti, who was not eligible to receive the £6,000 prize. On the opening day a 14-year-old girl from Yorkshire, Carole Swallow, with her father acting as caddie, scored 71, to end the first round in second place. She continued to perform most creditably, finishing with a total of 311. Miss Dotti who had previously lost the Open by a single shot predicted that she would not make the same mistake again, and this confident statement held true.

  19. Open Championship

    • Open Championship

    Open Championship

    In 1983, Craig Stadler set the pace on the opening day with a 64, the lowest first round on record. But it was Tom Watson, oozing the grace and confidence of a four-time champion and seldom out of the lead, who triumphed. He played the final, majestic hole in text book style. Splitting the fairway with his tee shot, he then threaded his two iron second between the sentinel bunkers from 213 yards to leave himself two putts from 18 feet for his fifth Championship. In the process he set a Royal Birkdale aggregate record of 275, nine under par. This total was the lowest winning total apart from his own in 1977 and 1980. He beat Hale Irwin and Andy Bean by one stroke. Irwin, going to tap in a 2-inch putt on the 14th green in the third round, missed the ball, a lapse that cost him what may have been the vital stroke.

  20. Ladies British Open Championship

    • Ladies British Open Championship

    Ladies British Open Championship

    The home supporters had much to cheer about as Laura Davies wore down her American opposition, Peggy Conley and Debbie Massey, and also held off the challenge from Marta Figueras-Dotti to win by four shots.

  21. The Amateur Championship

    • The Amateur Championship

    The Amateur Championship

    In one semi-final, Craig Cassells, an England youth player, whose 68 was the lowest in the qualifying at Birkdale, beat Garth McGimpsey at the 18th, In the other semi-final, Welshman Steven Dodd beat Australian Steven McGraw at the 18th. In the final Cassells was 7 down at lunch. He recovered somewhat in the afternoon but Dodd won 5/3. Cassells, Dodd and McGimpsey were, later in that year, in the first GB & I Walker Cup team to win on American soil.

  22. Open Championship

    • The Open Championship

    The Open Championship

    The 1991 Open was hotly contested but it belonged in the end to the Australians and in particular to Ian Baker-Finch, who at long last won golf's most treasured trophy, and to Mike Harwood who was runner-up after giving his compatriot a good run for his money. It was an unpredictable Open, for Europe's top golfers - Faldo, Woosnam, Olazabal and Ballesteros - started amongst the favourites but finished disappointingly low in the final placings. It was also a difficult Open and the course itself, with par set at an all-time low of 70, made the headlines in its own right, with its windy conditions on the first two days, its infamous opening hole and its testing greens.

    The first round leader was Seve Ballesteros. He fired a 66 to take a one shot lead over Chip Beck, Martin Gates and Santiago Luna. His round was compiled in a strong westerly wind. He opened his birdie account with a 35-footer on the fifth and closed it with a 40-footer on the last. To give some idea of the strength of the wind - Ballesteros powered a drive 375 yards down the 17th fairway, hit a 9-iron to five feet and sank the putt for an eagle. He played the eighteenth (472 yards), with a 4-iron off the tee, followed by a 7-iron.

    The tough conditions continued on Friday - Mark Calcavecchia dropped six shots in the first six holes, despite an eagle 2 at the 3rd. Tied for the lead by the end of the day, one shot ahead of Seve and O'Meara, were Gary Hallberg, Andy Oldcorn and Mike Harwood.

    Conditions eased on Saturday allowing Baker-Finch to shoot a course record 64. O'Meara joined Baker-Finch on 4-under with a fine 67. With Ian Baker-Finch and Mark O'Meara leading from Eamonn Darcy and Mike Harwood as the 120th Open Championship went into it's final day, the cynics were saying this was the Open nobody wanted to win - or rather, the Open a nobody would win.

    But Baker-Finch, the 30-year-old Australian wanted to win all right, to the extent of devouring the front nine in 29 shots with five birdies in the first seven holes. He came home in 37 for an eight under par total of 272 to win by two shots over his compatriot, Harwood, and by three from the Americans, Fred Couples and Mark O'Meara. Two shots was the nearest anyone got to Baker-Finch after he birdied the 3rd, although when Couples sank four straight birdies from the 10th, it did seem that the Australian's control of events might be threatened.

    In winning Baker-Finch continued the tradition of European failure in Opens at Birkdale and became the second Aussie to win the Championship over the Southport links. Had he saved par at the last he would have been the first man to break 130 for the last 36 holes of a major. As it is his 64-66 finish matched Tom Watson's winning effort at Turnberry in 1977.

    Other notable achievements included Jodie Mudd's course record 63 in the fourth round. He had eight birdies in what he called "maybe the greatest round of golf I ever played". If Mudd was pleased, Jim Payne, the Lincolnshire amateur was thrilled. He had a level-par 70 on Sunday, in the company of Jack Nicklaus, to deny Phil Mickleson the Silver Medal for being low amateur. Another point of interest is the generosity shown by Mark Calcavecchia - on the last hole of the second round the American hit his second shot to the green and promptly pulled out all the irons from his bag and handed then to Jim Paton a greenkeeper from West Kilbride. Jim, who was raking the bunkers, had earlier mentioned that he had recently had his clubs stolen.

    Richard Boxall was undoubtedly the unluckiest man at Birkdale in '91 - whilst hitting an excellent drive from the 9th tee he fractured his left leg and had to be stretchered from the course.

  23. Open Championship

    • The Open Championship

    The Open Championship

    Only eventual champion Mark O’Meara and his play-off challenger Brian Watts were able to match par over four rounds of a demanding Royal Birkdale course in a typical Open week of gales, torrential rain and brilliant sunshine. It took the third play-off in 10 years to establish O’Meara as a double major winner of the season, setting the ancient Claret Jug next to the US Masters Trophy he won in April.

    Watts, who had failed to make the cut in three of his previous five Open appearances, had a two-shot advantage over O’Meara, Jim Furyk and Jesper Parnevik at the start of the final round. But he arrived at the 72nd hole needing a par four to tie O’Meara’s level par total of 280 after a round of 68 which included six birdies, three of them at Birkdale’s tough par three holes, and four dropped shots.

    Watts drove into the right rough and his second shot hung on the down sloping sand at the back of a greenside bunker. He was forced to play the recovery with one foot in the sand and one on the bank and produced a miraculous shot that stopped within inches of the hole.

    O’Meara went ahead at the first hole of the play-off, the par-five 15th, holing from seven feet for a birdie while Watts missed from half that distance. He still held that one stroke advantage at the 18th, hitting a well controlled second shot just through the green directly behind the pin. For the second time in an hour Watts was bunkered, came out strongly and failed to hole the putt. O’Meara had three putts for the championship and needed only two.

    That final hole had been the scene of high drama throughout the last afternoon. Scotland’s Raymond Russell, who had started the day six shots behind the leader, needed a par four for a 66 to set a target score of 282, two over par, but he drove deeply into the left rough from the 18th tee and could only blast the ball out to the fairway. From there he produced his shot of the week within three feet of the hole for the joint best round of the day. His score was matched by Tiger Woods, who was joint leader after a first round 65, but trailed by five shots at the start of the last day. Two tremendous blows gave him a birdie at the 544-yard 15th, he chipped into the hole for another birdie from behind the 17th green and finished off with a 35-foot putt for another across the home green for third place.

    But one of the finest moments of the week belonged to 17-year-old Walker Cup player Justin Rose. An opening round of 72 was steady but unspectacular and gave no hint of what was to come. A second round of 66 shot him into the lead with Watts and did well in the gales of Saturday to complete the course in 75 on a day when the average score rose to 77.49. He stood on the final tee needing a four for a level par round of 70 and the highest finish by an amateur in modern times. But he tugged his drive well left and could only advance the ball further down the left rough some 45 yards short of the green.

    Then, having made the decision to turn professional at the conclusion of the Open, he played his final and most fantastic shot as an amateur. He pitched the ball high over the intervening bunker, dropping it perfectly on line for the pin and was swamped in a crescendo of cheers as it rolled slowly into the hole.

  24. Ladies British Open Amateur Championship

    • Ladies British Open Amateur Championship

    Ladies British Open Amateur Championship

    Rebecca Hudson, the former Daily Telegraph Junior Golfer of the Year narrowly failed to win the British Ladies Open Amateur title at Royal Birkdale on Saturday 12 June 1999. She lost the final to French International Marine Monnet (pictured), the 19-year-old Parisian who won the British Girls Open Championship at Formby in 1996. All great matches invariably have their defining moments, Hudson’s three putts at the 145-yard par 3, allowed Monnet to take the hole even though she was bunkered from the tee. It came at an unfortunate time for Hudson who fought her way back from two down to level. Monnet took the hole after splashing out and rolling in the putt.

    Earlier Monnet had put paid to Kim Andrew’s hopes of becoming the first player for 27 years to secure back-to-back victories in the championship while Hudson knocked out fellow international Fiona Brown in the semi-finals.

  25. Weetabix Women's British Open Championship

    • Weetabix Women's British Open Championship

    Weetabix Women's British Open Championship

    For the first time since 1986, when Laura Davies won her first major event, The Royal Birkdale Golf Club hosted the Weetabix Women’s British Open Championship from 17 – 20 August 2000.

    The event attracted most of the top women golfers in the world, including the defending champion, Sherri Steinhauer, who after wins at Royal Lytham in 1998 and Woburn in 1999 was bidding to become the first three in a row winner. She was confident she could handle the inclement weather forecast for the week. Karrie Webb, the world’s number one women’s golfer, who won the Championship at Woburn in both 1985 and 1987 also wasn’t worrying about the possibility of poor weather but she would have preferred not to have to play in the rain. In the event the Championship was played almost completely in brilliant sunshine much to the pleasure of all those involved, including the 50,000 spectators who attended throughout the week.

    Laura Davies who hoped to turn back the clock and repeat her performance of 1986 said “It was good to be back at one of the best venues we have ever played.” She was joined by other British hopefuls including Trish Johnson and Janice Moody, both recent winners on the Women’s Tours.

    Webb shot a five under par 68 to take a two shot lead after the 1st round in what was claimed to be wild and windy conditions. Annika Sorenstam, Juli Inkster, Becky Iverson Sophie Gustafson and Susie Redman were tied in second place, with Trish Johnson and local Lancashire girl Kirsty Taylor leading the British contingent a further stroke behind. Laura Davies and Sherri Steinhauer both had disappointing rounds of 76 and 77 respectively.

    In the second round Gustafson shot a superb 7 under par 66 to surge 10 under par and hold a three shot lead over Inkster who had a second round 69. Iverson was third four shots off the lead having had two rounds of 70, and Kathryn Marshall also shot a 69 to leave her 5 off the lead and head the British challenge. Trish Johnson birdied the final two holes to keep her in touch at 3 under par and Laura Davies improved to a 70 to finish level par. Webb who held the overnight lead had a 75 including four putting the 11th and she finished seven shots behind Gustafson. Sheri Steinhauer the reigning champion finished with a 75 to leave her 6 over par, and she missed the cut by two shots.

    Saturday saw a few storms over Royal Birkdale, one of which resulted in a suspension of play for one hour and forty five minutes, another storm resulted in a two shot penalty for Karrie Webb for taking the incorrect relief from a sprinkler head. After another sub par round, Sophie Gustafson was at 12 under par with a seven shot lead. Her nearest rivals were American Meg Mallon and Scot Kathryn Marshall, both at five under par.

    Everyone hoping for an exciting finish to this event was not to be disappointed. In glorious sunshine Gustafson’s seven shot lead was gradually whittled away until she had two putts at the last hole to secure the championship. It took her only one and with a two over par round of 75 she finished at 10 under par, two shots clear of her playing partner Meg Mallon, Becky Iverson, Liselotte Neumann and the Lancashire girl Kirsty Taylor who shot a final round six under par 67. Karrie Webb finished two shots further back with Janice Moody in 8th place.

  26. The Amateur Championship

    • The Amateur Championship

    The Amateur Championship

    The third staging of the Amateur Championship at Royal Birkdale saw Ireland internationalist, Brian McElhinney, follow in the footsteps of fellow Irishman, James Bruen in 1946, and Welshman, Stephen Dodd, in 1989 in claiming the prestigious trophy which was first contended in 1885.

    The semi-final line up provided the opportunity for the sumptuously gifted Essex prodigy, Oliver Fisher, to become, at age 16, the youngest finalist in the Championship’s history and for Scotland internationalist, Lloyd Saltman, to add to the impressive list of titles he had claimed earlier in the season. However expectations were confounded with the dogged McElhinney, despite being significantly out hit by Fisher, producing an admirably steady round of 70 in beating the English youngster on the last green. Even more of an upset occurred in the other semi-final with the relatively unknown Swanston green keeper, John Gallagher, profiting from a wild Saltman drive at the 18th to also triumph by one hole.

    The stormy conditions which greeted the golfers for the final must have seemed like home from home to McElhinney who had learned his game at the North West Club on Donegal’s wild and windy coast. His steadiness and low- flighted shots proved too much for Gallagher with his highly unorthodox cross-handed grip, the eventual margin being 5 and 4.

    Semi-finals:

    Brian McElhinney (North West) beat Oliver Fisher (West Essex) 1 hole John Gallagher (Swanston) beach Lloyd Saltman (Craigelaw) 1 hole

    Final:

    McElhinney beat Gallagher 5 and 4

  27. Weetabix Women's British Open Championship

    • Weetabix Women's British Open Championship

    Weetabix Women's British Open Championship

    This was the fourth time that Royal Birkdale had provided the venue for this, the most important women’s golf event on British soil, and one of women’s golf major championships.

    Despite being opposed by all the world’s top players, including the great Annika Sorenstam, the tiny Korean, Jeong Jang, became the unexpected but wholly deservedly winner, triumphing by four shots.

    In the bitterly cold rain-lashed conditions of the first day Jang’s brilliant round of 68 gave the 5ft tall Korean a lead which she was never to relinquish. Rounds of 66 and 69 further stretched her advantage to five shots with one round to play. There were those that felt that being partnered by Sorenstam might impose too much pressure for the relatively inexperienced 24 year old, Jang, to withstand. Nothing could have been further from the truth. The Korean showed not a flicker of anxiety, regularly driving over 250 yds despite her modest stature. Moreover, playing with an engaging smile on her face, Jang seemed to positively enjoy and thrive on the occasion. Her closing 69 and 16 under par total of 272 over a course measuring 6,480 yds was truly remarkable, leaving long hitting Sophie Gustafson, who had won this event over Royal Birkdale in 2000, trailing in her wake in second place with fellow Korean, Young Kim, and the phenomenal 15 year old amateur, Michelle Wie, two strokes further behind.

    Leading scores:

    272 – Jang Jeong (S Korea) – 68, 66, 69, 69

    276 – Sophie Gustafson (Sweden)

    278 – Young Kim (S Korea); Michelle Wie (USA)

    279 – L Neumann (Sweden); C Kerr (USA); A Sorenstam (Sweden)

  28. Open Championship

    • The Open Championship

    The Open Championship

    The 137th Open, at Royal Birkdale, will be remembered for its wild weather, its pure drama — and for a champion who almost didn’t play in the tournament. Padraig Harrington, defending the trophy, admitted on the eve of the first round that had it not been The Open, he would not have played.

    When he pulled out of practice on Wednesday to have intensive treatment to his right wrist the odds on Harrington retaining the crown went rocketing upwards. But tonight the trophy is heading back to Ireland and at the end of a roller-coaster day he was a runaway champion by four strokes.

    And in the end it was not any of the overnight leaders who challenged him hardest, but his European Tour colleague Ian Poulter who emerged from the pack with a superb round of 69 — but even that was four strokes adrift of Harrington. Another European, Henrik Stenson, shared third place with the week’s most talked-about name, Greg Norman.

    Even by links standards, a wind that was never less than 20mph, and at times gusted up to 50 meant a constant roller-coaster with many good scores every day being wrecked by double-bogeys or worse. It all began in the most horrendous conditions with not only wind by torrential rain wrecking things for those who went out on the first morning. The afternoon starters had things slightly better, but by the end of the day only three players had broken par, and then by only one stroke.

    Popular American Rocco Mediate, who gave Tiger Woods a run for his money in the US Open, shared the lead with Northern Irish hope Graeme McDowell — fresh from his victory at the Scottish Open — and the seasoned Australian Robert Allenby.

    Tucked in behind, on par 70 for the day, were American Bart Bryant, with Australian star of the present Adam Scott, and a certain Australian star of the past named Norman. The Great White Shark, who many considered had long been consigned to the deep of semi-retirement, was ostensibly at Royal Birkdale to hone his game for next week’s Senior Open at Troon — but he clearly left the script at home.

    Newly-wed Greg, with his bride Chris Evert along for fairway inspiration, was still right in the thick of it on Day 2, when he took the lead halfway through and lost it only late in the afternoon to a determined round of 67 by another veteran, South Korean KJ Choi. Tucked in behind them by then was the upcoming Colombian Camilo Villegas — who, by the time the TV commentators had got their tongues around how to pronounce his name (it’s “Vee-jay-gas”) had strung together a finishing blast of five successive birdies.

    It was so tight that only five strokes covered the first 21 players, but already the wind had blown away the hopes of many fancied contenders. The cut came at the end of the plus-nines, and out went six former Open champions — Paul Lawrie, Mark O’Meara, Tom Watson and Mark Calcavecchia, plus the injured John Daly, who completed two rounds of 80 and 89 — and Sandy Lyle, who called it quits after 10 miserable holes of the first round in driving rain. Other big names, such as Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie and Phil Mickelson had already effectively fallen by the wayside, but the Saturday morning papers were full off Shark talk — and Norman did not let anyone down.

    While many waited for what they thought would be an inevitable fade-out by the 53-year-old, he not only defied the years and the cynics, but actually improved his position. With more heavy wind, particularly in the morning, conditions remained far from ideal. None of the remaining 83 players broke par, and 72s were enough to plant Norman and defending champion Padraig Harrington at the top of the leaderboard.

    Norman led by two, with KJ Choi’s 75 sliding him down to joint second with Harrington, while a surprise English name came into the reckoning in fourth, Simon Wakefield, whose round of 70 was one of only four at that level on the day. Another 70 man, Ben Curtis, achieved his in the worst of the conditions.

    And so to the climax. One by one the challengers fell away — Choi and Wakefield so dramatically that they each took 79 to finish way down. Norman maybe went too boldly at his task, bogeys at one, two and three immediately setting him back, and more lost shots at 10, 13 and 18 compounding his drift back down.

    The tournament will also be remembered for the showing of the amateurs. On the course where Justin Rose made his name as a 17-year-old, Chris Wood earned a share of fifth place with rounds of 75, 70, 73 and 72, while Tom Sherreard finished his first Open, eagle-birdie to finish +14 way ahead of many leading pro players.

    Ironically, that included Justin Rose, whose “homecoming” was far from happy, with rounds of 74, 73, 82 and 73 leaving him tied for 70th place.

  29. Ricoh Women's British Open Championship

    • RICOH Women's British Open Championship

    RICOH Women's British Open Championship

    The last week in July saw the arrival at Royal Birkdale of the World’s best women golfers to compete in the 35th Women’s British Open; the 5th time that Birkdale had hosted the event. In testing, blustery and at times rainy conditions the truly cosmopolitan field produced a high quality display of golf for the sizeable galleries to enjoy, with Taiwan’s Yani Tseng emerging triumphant with excellent winning score of 11 under par 277.

    The 21 year old greatly impressed everyone who watched her both through her demeanour and her perfectly orthodox, compact, powerful swing which produced a ceaseless flow of glorious shots ideally suited to their specific requirements. Of her first three rounds, each of 68, the third was probably the pick in as much as she holed only two putts of any significance, taking 33 in all. Her ball striking in this round was as near perfect as makes no difference, her only statistical blemishes being through strategic choice rather than error, namely when she deliberately drove into the left-hand rough at the 10th to materially shorten her second shot and then at the 17th when her caddie advised her to play a 7 iron second to the front of the green thereby removing the threat of the greenside bunkers.

    In her first 56 holes played she had only one bogey, a truly phenomenal feat in windy conditions on a great golf course.

    Her 54 hole total of 204 would have spread-eagled a World-class field had the tall athletically built Australian, Kathryn Hull, not completed her 3rd round with a run of five birdies for a 66, one shot worse than the sensational 65 that Morgan Pressel had returned earlier in the day. Despite Hull’s brilliant finish Tseng had nevertheless established a 4 shot lead going into the final round.

    Once again Head Greenkeeper, Chris Whittle, and his staff had presented Birkdale in pristine condition. Bathed in the sunshine of Sunday afternoon the links looked a picture, a perfect stage for great events. Played in a fresh South West breeze none of the chasing pack making a significant move, the last round had the feel of being matchplay between the final couple of Hull and Tseng. An Australian birdie at the 2nd and a bunkered Taiwanese drive at the 3rd which resulted in a bogey cut Tseng’s lead to two but she responded strongly with a 45ft birdie putt on the short 4th and a perfectly played birdie 4 on the 6th thus restoring her overnight lead of four shots. It was then that Tseng displayed a slight frailty in her putting culminating in a miss from 2 ½ ft for a three putt bogey on the 10th green. Thus encouraged, Hull needed off four consecutive threes from the 11th including birdies on the 11th and 13th to be only a short behind.

    Despite the pressure Tseng’s well-grooved swing showed no sign of faltering. Two powerful shots reached the fringe of the par 5 15th green only for the birdie chance to go begging with a miss from a yard. Hull holed bravely from 6ft at the 16th to match Tseng’s par four. Neither player could quite birdie the long 17th despite moving both hits long straight drives. With the honour on the 18th tee Hull hit a shorter drive than expected into the right hand rough leaving herself a down-wind shot of over 200 yards to the flag. Tseng, using a driver when a 3 wood might have been wiser, opened the door by crunching yet another blistering drive of fully 300 yards which just reached the left hand fairway bunker with its last gash. Deciding to go down the green on a fairway wood, Hull smashed her second shot dead on line only to set it race well through the green leaving a difficult chip from some 25 yards.

    Tseng recovered safely from the bunker and then saw her 9 iron approach slip to the right into the swale at the back of the green 35ft from the pin.

    Perhaps somewhat in two minds the Australian saw her chip check on the incline and finish 20ft short. As is always likely to happen from that position Tseng’s uphill putt pulled up 5ft short of the hole. Reading a non-existent left-hand break into her putt, Hull’s bold attempt ran by leaving Tseng a putt for victory. Whether through crowd disturbance or her own uncertainty the Taiwanese golfer had several times previously stepped away from her shots but this time there was no hesitation as she rolled her putt straight into the middle of the cup.

    She had led the Championship from start to finish and despite some late anxiety had produced golf of the highest quality under pressure which deservedly earned her the title.

    Endearingly the new Champion seemed to be taken by surprise at the warmth of the reception she received both inside and outside the Clubhouse. Indeed an occasion to remember.

    Leading Final Scores

    YANI TSENG, TAIWAN 68, 68, 68, 73 - 277

    KATHERINE HULL, AUSTRALIA 68, 74, 66, 70 - 278

    NA YEON CHOI, KOREA 74, 70, 69, 68 - 281

    IN-KYUNG KIM, KOREA 70,72, 68, 71 - 281

    AMY YANG, KOREA 69, 71, 74, 68 - 282

    CRISTIE KERR, USA 73, 67, 72, 70 - 282

    HEE KYUNG SEO, KOREA 73, 69, 70, 70 - 282

    MORGAN PRESSEL, USA 77, 71, 65, 71 - 284

    INBEE PARK, KOREA 72, 71, 77, 66 - 286

    AI MIYAZATO, JAPAN 76, 70, 73, 67 - 286

    CHRISTINA KIM, USA 74, 68, 70, 74 - 286

    MOMOKE UEDA JAPAN 72, 70, 70, 74 - 286

    BRITTANY LINCICOME, USA 69, 71, 71, 75 - 286

    Leading Amateur

    CAROLINE HEDWALL, SWEDEN 74, 75, 72, 70 - 291

    Local interest centred on the performances of two Royal Birkdale Members, Florentyna Parker and Kelly Tidy, who have been enjoying great success in their respective golfing spheres.

    Florentyna, a recent winner on the Ladies European Tour, has played her way into the top ten in the Solheim Cup rankings and 18 year old Kelly responded to the disappointment of missing out on the Curtis Cup selection by carrying off the oldest prize in women’s golf with her fighting comeback in the final of the Ladies British Open Amateur Championship at Ganton.

    Kelly, responding to the excitement of the occasion and the vociferous backing of her many supporters, demonstrated her considerable skills but just missed the 36 hole cut score of 149 by two shots. This was mainly due to strategic errors on the 18th tee in the first round when two out of bounds tee shots turned a potential 74 into a 78. However, seemingly undeterred she came out first thing on Friday morning with a sub par first nine holes but luck deserted her on the last two greens when the putts she needed for birdies both hit the hole but refused to drop.

    In amongst company of the holder, Catriona Matthew, and the USA Women’s Open Champion, Paula Creamer, Florentyna redeemed an opening 77 with a gritty 71 played through the incessant rain of the second afternoon to make the cut with a stroke to spare. A disappointing 3rd round 79 threw her back into last place but Flory showed her true colours in the final round with a four under par 68 for a total of 295.

  30. Senior Open Championship

    • Senior Open Championship

    Senior Open Championship

    For the first time the Senior Open Championship was held at Royal Birkdale Golf Club from 25th July to 28th July, the Championship was sponsored by Rolex.

    Two of the Open Championship Winners at Royal Birkdale in Mark O'Meara and Tom Watson arrived at one their favourite links courses.

    After 3 rounds Sandy Lyle was leading the home charge and Bernhard Langer, David Frost, Corey Pavin and Peter Senior led the overseas force on the last day. Along with American Mark Wiebe who was 4 shots back from Bernhard Langer.

    After 18 holes there was a tie with Bernhard Langer and Mark Wiebe who shot a 66 on the final day picking up the 4 shots on Langer to tie on 271.

    After 18 Holes

    Mark Wiebe USA 70-65-70-66 271
    Bernhard Langer Germany 68-67-66-70 271
    David Frost RSA 68-68-68-70 274
    Corey Pavin USA 69-71-69-65 274
    Peter Senior Aus 68-71-69-66 274
    Peter Fowler Aus 69-68-70-69 276
    Sandy Lyle Sco 70-68-69-70 277

    The play off was over the 18th hole, the first four playoff holes had been halved in par-par-bogey-par, Mark Wiebe won the Championship at the fifth trip down the par 4 18th, two putting as Langer failed to get down in 2 from a greenside bunker. The first 2 holes of the sudden death contest were played on Sunday evening before darkness forced the play off to continue at 8.00am on Monday Morning.

    Mark Wiebe won the 240,000 euro first prize.

    Mark Wiebe returned early in 2014 and presented a 5 iron to the Club, a club he used regularly and with great effect to win the Championship. This is displayed in the golfers bar. He also had a new puppy which he called "Birkdale".

  31. Ricoh Women's British Open

    • Ricoh Women's British Open

    Ricoh Women's British Open

    The 2014 Ricoh Women's British Open was played 10–13 July at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, England. It was the 39th Women's British Open, and the 14th as a major championship on the LPGA Tour. It was the sixth Women's British Open at Royal Birkdale, the most recent was four years earlier in 2010. ESPN and BBC Sport televised the event from Royal Birkdale.

    The field for the tournament was set at 144, and most earned exemptions based on past performance on the Ladies European Tour, the LPGA Tour, previous major championships, or with a high ranking in the Women's World Golf Rankings. The rest of the field earned entry by successfully competing in qualifying tournaments open to any female golfer, professional or amateur, with a low handicap.

    Mo Martin won her first major, one shot ahead of runners-up Shanshan Feng and Suzanne Pettersen. Martin led after 36 holes at 138 (- after consecutive rounds of 69, she was 3 shots ahead at the halfway stage followed by Beatriz Recari of Spain and So Rean Ryu of South Korea.

    In the third round Martin fell three shots back with a 77 (+5) on Saturday, tied with six others for seventh place.

    Mo Martin started an hour ahead of the final pair on a clear and breezy Sunday, she shot even par, capped by an eagle at the final hole. Her second shot from the fairway on the par 5 nearly holed out for an albatross (double eagle); it rolled onto the green and struck the flagstick, stopping six feet (1.8 m) away. She sank the putt and waited for the others to finish, preparing for a potential playoff.

    The competition had been a roller coaster ride from being second after the first day to T7 going into the final round.

    Mo Martin presented the Royal Birkdale golf Club with an exact copy of the 3 wood she hit at the 18th hole to win the competition, this is displayed in the clubhouse.

    It was Martin's first win on the LPGA Tour, and moved her from 99 to 26 in the women's world rankings

    The leading Amateur was Emma Talley T17 from the USA on +6.

    The Head greenkeeper Chris Whittle and his staff presented the course in a fabulous condition a perfect stage for this great event.

    Final Leading Scores

    1 Mo Martin United States 69-69-77-72=287 -1 $474,575
    T2 Shanshan Feng
    Suzann Pettersen
    China
    Norway
    73-71-69-75=288
    72-73-68-75=288
    E $235,204
    4 Inbee Park South Korea 72-72-68-77=289 +1 $151,532
  32. Boys Amateur Championship

    • Boys Amateur Championship

    Boys Amateur Championship

    After completing the strokeplay stages of the championship at RBGC and S&A the knock out stages were held exclusively at Royal Birkdale. The weather was kind to the competitors with a fresh breeze creating a demanding but manageable challenge on the links.

    In the 36 hole final Marcus Svensson from Sweden played Keegan de Lange, playing his first golf outside of his native South Africa. In the first round Marcus played our Open Championship course in 66 shots to be four up at lunch. Keegan came back at him in the afternoon but was never able to close the gap to less than two holes and Marcus ran out a 4/3 winner.