Jack Nicklaus recalls British Open duel with Tom Watson 39 years ago

Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson after the 1977 British Open at Turnberry that is knows as the "Duel in the Sun."
Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson after the 1977 British Open at Turnberry that is know as the “Duel in the Sun.”

Jack Nicklaus has enough memories from his years as a professional golfer to fill thousands of Claret Jugs, the trophy Henrik Stenson smooched after winning the British Open on Sunday at Royal Troon.

One of those was the 1977 British Open when the North Palm Resident and Tom Watson hooked up in what became known as the “Duel in the Sun” and will go down as one of the most memorable days in golf history. Watson needed a final-round 65 to hold off Nicklaus, who shot a 66, and win the tournament by a stroke.

On Sunday, Nicklaus was taken back 39 years as he watched Stenson and Phil Mickelson battle shot-for-shot, with Stenson riding 10 birdies to an 8-under-63 and finishing three strokes ahead of Mickelson, who shot a bogey-free 65.

  “Some in the media have already tried to compare today’s final round to 1977 at Turnberry, with Tom Watson and me in what they called the “duel in the sun.” I thought we played great and had a wonderful match. On that day, Tom got me, 65-66. Our final round was really good, but theirs was even better. What a great match today.”

Those comments were from Nicklaus, who took to Facebook after the round to praise both golfers. More from Nicklaus:

“I was fortunate to watch every second of today’s final round of the Open Championship, and I thought it was fantastic. Phil Mickelson played one of the best rounds I have ever seen played in the Open and Henrik Stenson just played better—he played one of the greatest rounds I have ever seen. Phil certainly has nothing to be ashamed of because he played wonderfully. Henrik played well from beginning to end. He drove the ball well; his iron game was great; his short game was wonderful; and his putting was great. Henrik was simply terrific.

    “To win your first major championship is something special in and of itself, but to do it in the fashion Henrik did it in, makes for something very special and incredibly memorable. I’m proud of and happy for Henrik.”

 

Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson following Sunday's final round at the British Open. (Getty Images)
Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson following Sunday’s final round at the British Open. (Getty Images)

Stenson finished with a 20-under-264 while Mickelson shot 267. In 1977 at Turnberry, Watson was a 12-under-268. Nicklaus shot 269.

The next closest in 1977: Hubert Green 10 strokes behind Nicklaus at 1-under. On Sunday, J. B. Holmes finished third, 11 strokes behind Mickelson at 6-under.

Following their round, Nicklaus and Watson walked off the green with their arms around each other’s shoulders, just as Mickelson and Stenson did Sunday.

“It certainly crossed my mind a little bit out their today, that match when Jack and Tom went head to head there in ’77,” Mickelson said. “I know that I wanted to more of Tom in this case than Jack, but I understand how it feels. It’s bittersweet.”

U.S. Open: First round finally complete, Landry leads Westwood, D. Johnson by a stroke

Jordan Spieth shot a 2-over 72 in the first round of the U.S. Open, which was better than Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Danny Willett and Phil Mickelson. (AP Photo)
Jordan Spieth shot a 2-over 72 in the first round of the U.S. Open, which was better than Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Danny Willett and Phil Mickelson. (AP Photo)

OAKMONT, PA. – The first round finally is in the books at the U.S. Open and Andrew Landry’s 4-under 66 has held for the lead.

Landry, who took 65 shots Thursday before play was suspended and returned early Friday to knock in a 10-foot birdie putt on his final hole (No. 9) of the first round, leads Lee Westwood and Dustin Johnson by one shot.

Westwood’s birdied his final two holes early today after returning to finish his round to get to 3-under. Johnson was among the 78 golfers who started their first round today and were schedule to play 36 holes.

Thursday’s first round was suspended at 4:30 p.m. while in its third weather delay.

Johnson shot a bogey free round with birdies on Nos. 6, 11 and 14, including draining a 35-footer on No. 11.

Landry, Westwood and those who had morning tee times on Thursday, will play their second round early Saturday and, for those who make the cut, start their third round Saturday afternoon.

Just 11 golfers shot under par on the notoriously difficult Oakmont C.C. track in the first round, including amateur Scott Scheffler from the University of Texas who carded a 69.

The course is expected to get even more difficult as it dries out during the weekend.

A group of three golfers sit at 2-under led by Sergio Garcia. Scheffler is one of five golfers at 1-under, including Bubba Watson, ranked No. 4 in the world.

Among those at even par and tied for 12th is Jupiter’s Daniel Berger, who is coming off his first tour victory last weekend at the St. Jude Classic.

The biggest names are among those struggling the most. Jason Day, No. 1 in the world, finished 6-over, No. 2 Jordan Spieth is 2-over, No. 3 Rory McIlroy had an ugly 77 for 7-over and No. 5 Rickie Fowler is 6-over. Masters champion Danny Willett (No. 9) is 5-over and Phil Mickelson came in at 4-over with five bogeys on his final nine holes including three in his last four.

 

McIlroy equals worst round in a U.S. Open with a 7-over

OAKMONT, PA. – Rory McIlroy, the No. 3 ranked golfer in the world, isn’t out of the U.S. Open just yet but it likely will take a spectacular round just to make the cut.

Rory McIlroy struggled to a 7-over 77 in his opening round at the U.S. Open.
Rory McIlroy struggled to a 7-over 77 in his opening round at the U.S. Open.

McIlroy shot a 7-over 77 in the  first round, which ended this morning, equaling his worst round in an Open. He was the worst of a group that included Rickie Fowler (6-over) and Master champion Danny Willett (5-over).

McIlroy,  the 2011 U.S. Open champion, had eight bogeys, including his final three holes. He hit just five of 14 fairways.

“You see guys shooting 66, 67, there are scores out there to be had but you really need to be in control of your golf game,” McIlroy said. “The last couple of days I wasn’t in control. I need to go and shoot something like a 66 to give myself any chance.”

McIlroy will not tee off again until Saturday morning. The revised format announced Friday morning after play was suspended Thursday afternoon during the third delay because of storm weather is as follows: The players who returned this morning to finish their first round are done for the day and will return early Saturday to play their second round and, for those who make the cut, at least start their third.

Those who never got on the course on Thursday are scheduled to play 36 holes today, although that will be difficult with the final group is scheduled to tee off at 4:42 p.m.

Andrew Landry continues to lead after setting a record for the first round of a U.S. Open at Oakmont C.C., 4-under 66. Lee Westwood finished his first round at 3-under.

 

U.S. Open: Weather halts first-round play for second time

 

Rory McIlroy was 1-over par through 6 holes at the U.S. Open when play was suspended. (AP photo)
Rory McIlroy was 1-over par through 6 holes at the U.S. Open when play was suspended. (AP photo)

UPDATE: 12:11 p.m. ET: Play has been halted again due to weather.


UPDATE, 11:23 a.m. ET: The horn has sounded and play has resumed at Oakmont.


OAKMONT, Pa. — With a major squall line moving through Western Pennsylvania, the U.S. Open suspended play just after 10 a.m.

Oakmont received 1.1 inches of rain Wednesday night and more was expected this morning and again late afternoon. The rain typically helps soften the slick greens and hold tee shots in the fairways.

Andrew Landry is the leader with a 3-under-par through 11 holes. Landry birded Nos. 10, 17 and 2 before being called off the course.

Of the 78 golfers on the course, 11 were under par – including Jordan Spieth through 4 – and 54 were over par. Jupiter’s Daniel Berger, coming off his first PGA Tour victory last week at the St. Jude Classic, is even par after 8 holes. Berger bogeyed the 609-yard par-4 No. 4 and made up the stroke on the next hole with a birdie.

Rory McIlroy is 1-over through 6 holes and Masters champion Danny Willett is 1-over through 5. Rickie Fowler is 2-over through six.

The high score belongs to Mike van Sickle, who is 7-over through 6.