Costantino Rocca renews John Daly rivalry at Senior Open 23 years on from famous putt

Costantino Rocca
Costantino Rocca celebrates his famous putt on the 72nd hole at the 1995 Open Championship

Costantino Rocca is relishing the chance to renew his rivalry with John Daly at the Senior Open at St Andrews in July.

Daly beat Rocca in a four-hole play-off at the 1995 Open Championship after the Italian had sunk a 60-foot putt at the 72nd hole at the Old Course.

The 61-year-old was asked about carrying the tag of 'the most famous runner-up'.

"I think in the world, I'm the most famous," he replied.

This year's event at St Andrews will be the first time the Senior Open has been held on the Old Course, with Rocca and Daly joined by the likes of Faldo and Tom Watson.

The tournament is expected to draw a big crowd and comes the week after this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

"After the Open I came to the Dunhill Championship later that year and every time I arrive here it is magic," said Rocca, who has 17 professional wins including two on the European Senior Tour.

Costantino Rocca
Rocca has been playing on the European Senior Tour since 2007

"When you see the 18th and the 1st hole with the clubhouse, the sea, the people going about, it's magic moments. And you have to take these for all your life. You come here one year, you are emotional. You come the next year, it's still emotional."

Rocca was one shot behind Daly when he played the last hole of his fourth round in 1995, knowing he required a birdie to force a play-off.

But he says he still had aspirations of being outright winner and was trying to drive the final green and putt for an eagle that would have won him the Claret jug and become the first ever Italian winner of the Open.

"I was so concentrated," he explained. "I had just made a good par from the road on the 17th.

"I said to my caddy, 'if I put my driver on the green I can make two'. It was the best drive I hit all week. I hit it straight towards the pin. A good bounce and it would have been on the green but I was a little bit unlucky as my ball hit a sand divot and it went left."

Costantino Rocca and John Daly
Daly (right) got the better of Rocca in the play-off in 1995

Rocca made a mess of his approach and left the ball in 'the valley of sin' and 60 feet short of the hole. However, he still had the confidence and ability to knock the ball into the cup, bringing a huge noise from the 40,000 crowd surrounding the 18th green.

"It was fantastic," he added as he returned to the Old Course on Monday to try to repeat his famous putt.

"It was a dream come true and at that moment it was like I had won the tournament. It was so nice to see the ball go in. It took a long time to go in. For me it was so special.

"To have 40,000 watch and love you. I was a little Italian coming into the jungle. We had Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros. Famous players so to have the 40,000 cheer it was brilliant."