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The Open Championship
The courses, the champions, the shots, the emotions of the oldest major championship

Only Opens.
 - Tom Watson (when asked if he collected anything Scottish for luck)

Hey, this ain't a funeral, you know.
- Tom Watson (as solemn journalists entered the interview room after he missed an 8 foot putt to win the 2009 Open at Turnberry at the age of 59, before losing to Stewart Cink in a playoff)

The rule says something about intent when you do that. I intended to hit it.
 - Hale Irwin (on calling a penalty on himself after completely missing a 2-inch putt on the 14th hole in the third round of the 1983 Open at Royal Birkdale, eventually losing to Tom Watson by one shot)

At 15 we put down my bag to hunt for a ball, found the ball, lost the bag.
 - Lee Trevino (during the 1971 Open at Royal Birkdale)

I'm a serious contender this week. How can they beat me? I've been struck by lightning, had two back operations and been divorced twice.
 - Lee Trevino (at Royal Birkdale for the 1983 Open; he didn't win, and Tom Wartson did)

Not true. I slept on the floor.
 - Fred Couples (on being asked if it was true he had slept in the bath because his hotel bed was too soft, during the 1991 Open at Royal Birkdale)

You think I play the hole the wrong way?
 - Severiano Ballesteros (on being asked why he used a four-iron off one tee instead of the driver, and then holed a 40 foot putt for a birdie during the 1991 Open at Royal Birkdale)

It is doubtful that there was a man present at Birkdale who wanted Palmer to lose. It's impossible to overpraise the tact and charm with which this American has conducted himself on his two visits to Britain. He has no fancy airs or graces; he wears no fancy clothes; he makes no fancy speeches. He simply says and does exactly the right thing at the right time, and that is enough.
 - Henry Longhurst (at the 1961 Open at Royal Birkdale)

I had to lean sideways to see the top of the flag.
 - Gary Player (on his superb three-wood approach to the 14th at Carnoustie en route to winning the 1968 Open)

The rough is impossible - impossible to stay out of, impossible to play out of. But I guess I'd rather be in it 40 yards ahead of everybody else.
 - Jack Nicklaus (at Carnoustie, during the 1968 Open)

But the bottom line is, no matter what, even if I shoot 90 tomorrow, I'm going to enjoy it. Maybe people will say "Oh, he blew it" or whatever. Maybe I'm going to blow it, it's the first time I've ever been there. What do you expect? You know I'm not number one in the world. My knees are going to touch each other on the first tee tomorrow. But let me tell you, I'm going to enjoy it.
 - Jean Van de Velde (on the eve of the final round of the 1999 Open at Carnoustie. He had a three shot lead coming to the 18th, took seven, and then lost the Open in a playoff)

I held the putter in a vice-like grip and from the moment I took it back from the ball I was blind and unconscious.
 - Tommy Armour (on how he holed the putt which won him the 1931 Open at Carnoustie)

Imagine him as he scrutinises a long, difficult stroke, with arms quietly folded, an inscrutable quarter smile on his lips, for all the world like a gambler watching the wheel spin. And then the cigarette is tossed away, the club taken with abrupt decision, the glorious swing flashes and a long iron pierces the wind like an arrow.
 - Pat Ward-Thomas (on Ben Hogan's 1953 Open victory at Carnoustie)

I'm tired of giving my best and not having it be good enough.
 - Jack Nicklaus (after losing "The Duel in the Sun" to Tom Watson at Turnberry in the 1977 Open)

It doesn't hurt much any more. These days I can go a full five minutes without thinking about it.
 - Doug Sanders (in 2000, thirty years after missing a two foot putt to win the Open at St. Andrews in 1970 - he went on to lose in a playoff to Jack Nicklaus)

Golfing excellence goes hand and hand with alcohol, as many an Open and Amateur champion has shown.
 - Henry Longhurst

The British Open probably would have died if the American stars hadn't started going over to play in it more regularly the last 15 years. Arnold Palmer saved it, but as far as I'm concerned he didn't do us any favours.
 - Dave Hill

Their only fault is that they give no possible excuse for a missed putt.
 - Bobby Jones (on the greens at Hoylake for the 1930 Open)

How about that amigo. I just come over to see my friends and I win the bloody championship.
 - Roberto De Vicenzo (on winning the 1967 Open at Hoylake)

They say I get into too many bunkers. But is no problem. I am the best bunker player.
 - Severiano Ballesteros (after winning the 1979 Open at Royal Lytham and St. Annes)

The winner, Severiano Ballesteros, chose not to use the course, but preferred his own, which mainly consisted of hay fields, car parks, grandstands, dropping zones and even ladies' clothing.
 - Colin Maclaine (Chairman of the Championship Commitee, after Ballesteros' 1979 victory at Royal Lytham and St. Annes)

When Ballesteros triumphed at the British Open in 1979, for his first major win, he hit so few fairways off the tee that he was often mistaken for a gallery marshall.
 - Dan Jenkins

The hundred or so followers of the Royal and Ancient game who journeyed from Edinburgh on the morning of Thursday 22 September, the opening day, went prepared to have a thorough treat.
 - David Scott Duncan (of the first Muirfield Open in 1892)

I can honestly say in my entire career, I've never gone around a golf course and not mis-hit a shot, but today I never missed a shot. I hit every driver perfect, every iron perfect. I'm in awe of myself.
 - Greg Norman (of his final round 64 in the 1993 Open at Royal St. George's)

I never thought I'd live to see golf played so well.
 - Gene Sarazen (on Greg Norman's victory in the 1993 Open at Royal St. George's)

I guess that's why they call it Hell.
 - Jack Nicklaus (on taking four shots to get out of Hell Bunker during the first round of the 1995 Open at St. Andrews)

He must have left a hole out.
 - Hale Irwin (on Seve Ballesteros shooting 16 for the last 5 holes at the 1979 Open at Royal Lytham and St. Annes)

Twice Open Champion Willie Park coined the slogan: "The man who can putt is a match for anyone." To which J.H. Taylor produced the response: "The man who can approach does not need to putt."
 - Michael Hobbs

Do I have to know rules and all that crap? Then forget it.
 - John Daly (when asked whether he'd like to join the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, after winning the 1995 Open at St. Andrews)

If you're going to be a player people will remember, you have to win the Open at St. Andrews.
 - Jack Nicklaus

To me, the Open is the tournament I would come to if I had to leave a month before and swim over.
 - Lee Trevino

Wind is part of the British Open. It is an examination and it took me a long time to pass the examination. Eighty per cent of the fellows out there have not passed the test.
 - Gary Player (after winning the 1974 Open at Royal Lytham and St. Annes)

The only equivalent plunge from genius I could think of was Ernest Hemingway's tragic loss of ability to write. Hemingway got up one morning and shot himself. Nicklaus got up the next morning and shot 66.
 - Ian Wooldridge (on Nicklaus shooting 83 in the first round of the 1981 Open at Royal St. George's and following that up with a 66)

All my life I wanted to play golf like Jack Nicklaus, and now I do.
 - Paul Harvey (journalist, after Nicklaus shot 83 at Royal St. George's in the 1981 Open)

I played the British Open in 1937. It took a week to get there and a week to get home. I was the low American; finished fourth or fifth. And what it came down to was, I lost a good part of my summer, won $185, and spent $1,000 on boat fare alone.
 - Byron Nelson

What did I want with prestige? The British Open paid the winner $600 in American money. A man would have to be two hundred years old at that rate to retire from golf.
 - Sam Snead (on why he hesitated before going to St. Andrews for the 1946 Open; he won)

Any golfer worth his salt has to cross the sea and try to win the British Open.
 - Jack Nicklaus

I never felt I could be a complete professional without having won the British Open. It was something you had to do to complete your career.
 - Arnold Palmer

They keep trying to give me the championship, but I won't take it.
 - Leo Diegel (on choking in the last round of the 1933 Open at St. Andrews)

I give you one job to do and you can't even get that right.
 - Ian Woosnam (to his caddie, Miles Byrne, after discovering he had 15 clubs in his bag and incurring a two-stroke penalty when leading the 2001 Open at Royal Lytham and St. Annes)

So now, if he could avoid the masses of bunkers on the eighteenth, he must surely be home. I saw the shot from just behind him and shall remember it to the end of my days. His swing never left him and this might have been on the practice ground. It might also have been fired from a rifle instead of a golf club - miles down the dead centre, veering neither to right nor left.
 - Henry Longhurst (on Tony Jacklin's drive at the final hole of the 1969 Open at Royal Lytham and St. Annes)

I lost my head. I lost everything. I try to cut the ball for it to stop quickly. But my hands - they don't go forward, they are coming back.
- Costantino Rocca (on his fluffed chip on the 72nd hole of the 1995 Open at St. Andrews)

The emotion is unbelievable. After second shot at 18 - it blows my head. Then I hole putt. Give me another chance. The second putt - [in fact his first putt, after fluffing a chip - see above] nobody is supposed to hole that putt.
 - Costantino Rocca (making a 70 foot putt for birdie on the 72nd hole of the 1995 Open at St. Andrews to tie John Daly; he lost in the playoff)

Is winning the Open worth a million pounds? Well, it's worthwhile winning it - I would recommend it to anybody!
- Sandy Lyle

He's raised the bar to a level only he can reach.
 - Tom Watson (of Tiger Woods' victory in the 2000 Open at St. Andrews)

 

 






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