The Open anniversaries: Seve Ballesteros’ maiden major, 40 years on

The Open anniversaries: Seve Ballesteros’ maiden major, 40 years on

Only one player from continental Europe has won The Open on multiple occasions, with this year’s contest marking the 40th anniversary of Seve Ballesteros’ breakthrough major victory.

Ballesteros registered five major titles during a glittering career that saw him also win a record-breaking 50 European Tor titles, with his first Open success coming at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 1979.

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The Spaniard finished runner-up in 1976 as a 19-year-old at Royal Birkdale, before going one better three years later to become the youngest Champion Golfer of the 20th century.

Ballesteros bounced back from a two-over 73 on Thursday to birdie four of the last five holes of his second round to post a round-of-the-day 65 and getting within two shots of the halfway lead.

A 75 during the third round matched the total of 36-hole leader Hale Irwin and kept the gap at two heading into Sunday, where Ballesteros produced a moment of magic at the 16th on his way to victory.

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Ballesteros hit his drive so far right that it found an overspill car park some 60 yards right of the fairway, where he was given relief and knocked his pitch to 20 feet before holing out for the most unlikely of birdies.

With victory in Ballesteros’ hands, he then scrambled a par at the 17th and then tapped in at the last to close out a one-under 70, giving him a three-shot victory over Ben Crenshaw and Jack Nicklaus.


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