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Sandy Lyle's stunning Open win in 1985 proved to be a watershed moment in British golfing history

When Sandy Lyle won the first of two major titles in the 1985 Open at Royal St George’s, it ended a 16-year wait for a British victory in the championship and opened the way for three-time winner Nick Faldo to build on the Scot’s breakthrough over the next seven years.

But the modest Lyle has always freely admitted his victory at Sandwich owed a great deal to the mistakes of some of his rivals just as much as to his own efforts.

Sandy Lyle won his first major at Royal St George's to mark the beginning of a new era for British golfLyle went into the final round three shots behind the joint leaders, Germany’s Bernhard Langer and Australian David Graham.

He was paired with Irishman Christy O’Connor Jnr, and Lyle recalled in an interview last year: “Both Christy and myself were playing well and setting up birdie chances, but nothing was going in at all.”

Crucially, however, they weren’t losing any ground either whereas first Langer, Graham and then American Tom Kite came and went at the top of the leaderboard after holding clear leads. With four holes to play Lyle suddenly found himself in a share of the lead after making an unlikely birdie at the long 14th.

He then hit a pearler of a drive down the 15th to set up another birdie and was par at 16 and 17 to set up a one-shot lead standing on the 18th tee.

But, after a solid drive and a reasonable second with a five-iron, Lyle found a bad lie just off the green and duffed his attempted chip. He sank to his knees in frustration, but the several thousands spectators in the grandstands, who were desperate for a British winner, rallied Lyle with shouts of “Come on Sandy” and Lyle managed to escape with a bogey which proved enough for him to lift the Claret Jug.

“Although my victory was due in no small measure to other people making a hash of things, I can still fee proud of the fact that I played the last four holes in one-under-par, which was two or three shots better than the rest of the field,” he said.

If the last round of the 1985 Open is remembered for the mistakes the chief contenders made when the pressure was on, that certainly wasn’t the case when the Championship returned to Sandwich eight years later.

Greg Norman's master class in 1993 denied Bernhard Langer a British Open title

Once again Langer made a massive effort to win the British Open crown that always eluded him and went into the final round a shot behind the joint leaders, Faldo and American Corey Pavin.

But the day belonged to Langer's playing partner, Greg Norman, who produced a wonderful round of 64 to claim his second Open title and leave Langer to say the Australian’s performance was the finest round of golf he has witnessed during his long career.

Kent Garden of England

Reproduced with kind permission of KOS Media Ltd and Visit Kent. For further information, go to and


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