When you think of the Old Course at St. Andrews and the Open Championship, you think of some of golf’s greatest champions.
You think of Tiger Woods domination in 2000 and 2005, and of Jack Nicklaus claiming his second Open Championship in 1970 and his third in 1978. Or Nick Faldo dominating his rival — Greg Norman — en route to the second engraving of his name on the claret jug. You think of Seve and you think of Tom Morris, old and young: But you may forget about John Daly.
In 1995, John Daly shocked the golf world for a second time and cemented his place in golf history and solidified the legend.
Coming into Open Championship week at the Old Course at St. Andrews, there were no signs suggesting John Daly was going to contend. He hadn’t finished better than T-12 all season and had missed the cut in two of his previous three starts.
Daly came out hot, holding at least a share of the lead on Thursday and Friday, before sliding back a little bit on Saturday. He entered the final round on Sunday four shots off Michael Campbell’s lead.
Through the ebbs and flows of links golf, the final two combatants were Daly and journeyman Italian pro Costantino Rocca.
As Rocca came to the 18th hole, Daly sat in the clubhouse clinging to a one-shot lead. What happened next was one of the most unpredictable, roller coaster of emotions-causing hole in major championship history.
Needing a birdie to force a playoff, Rocca hit a brilliant drive leaving him next to nothing on his approach.
Don’t remember what happened? Take a look:
After forcing the playoff, however, Rocca ran out of steam. The four-hole playoff was a blood bath. Rocca played the four-hole aggregate in three over while Daly played brilliantly and finished a 1-under to become the champion golfer of the year for 1995.
Daly, who first burst onto the scene in 1991 with his win at the PGA Championship as the 9th alternate into the field, had shocked the golf world again. It would be his final major triumph.
At an open that saw Arnold Palmer’s final competitive round at St. Andrews and Tiger Woods’ first, it was John Daly who stole the show and gave us one of the greatest upsets in golf history.
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