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17 October 2014

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Sandy Lyle's Open triumph 1985

Sandy Lyle

© SNSpix

The British Open has always been regarded as the most prestigious major event in world golf, with the claret jug easily the most recognisable and desirable trophy for golfers, beating even the US Masters' much-coveted green jacket into second place in terms of tradition and significance.

All of the golf's top names have grasped the Royal and Ancient's main prize, which was commissioned from MacKay & Cunningham of Edinburgh in 1873, although in modern times the record of British players in the competition is not overly impressive.

The immediate post-war era was dominated by the South African, Bobby Jones, and Peter Thomson, an Australian, who won the tournament no fewer than eight times between them in the ten years after 1949.

British successes were few and far between, as top-class competitors in the shape of Jack Nicklaus (a three-time winner), Tom Watson (five times) and Arnold Palmer (twice), kept a firm hand on the trophy from across the Atlantic.

Tony Jacklin did manage to momentarily crack the foreign monopoly, with a win at Royal Lytham and St Anne's in 1969 and on that day helped lay the foundation of what was to become the next British triumph. After coming close to catching Jacklin's winning match ball as he victoriously hurled it into the crowd, an 11-year-old from Shrewsbury, who would later represent Scotland, vowed that one day he would be united with the famous jug.

And so it came to be 16 years later. Sandy Lyle, son of teaching professional Alex Lyle, triumphed at Royal St George's and with it struck a significant blow in cracking America's domination of the sport.

Sandy Lyle


Lyle had been a professional for eight years prior to his first major victory, winning the prestigious Rookie of the Year accolade in 1977. His career, especially in its latter stages, was blighted by inconsistency and he was renowned throughout the game as a likeable character whose form could change as quickly as the unpredictable British weather.

However, on the final day of the tournament in '85 everything clicked into place for the adopted Scotsman. Three strokes behind overnight leaders Bernhard Langer and David Graham, he set about eating into their lead and came into his own on the back nine.

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