1979 British Open Winner and Scores

The 1979 British Open was the 108th time the tournament was played. Seve Ballesteros was just 22 years old, and he had already made a name for himself. But this is the tournament at which he became a major champion.

Winner: Seve Ballesteros, 283

Where it was played: Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club in Lytham St. Annes, England

Tournament dates: July 18-21, 1979

Leader after first round: Bill Longmuir, 65

Leader after second round: Hale Irwin, 136

Leader after third round: Hale Irwin, 211

What Happened at the 1979 Open Championship

At the 1976 British Open, when he was 19 years old, Seve Ballesteros finished second and signalled to the golf world that a great new talent was emerging. Over the next couple years, Ballesteros won in Europe, America, Japan, New Zealand and even Africa. And then, three years later, what seemed inevitable in 1976 happened at the 1979 British Open: Ballesteros won the Open Championship.

His victory at the 1979 British Open was his first in any major, and the way in which he won it helped cement Ballesteros' reputation for creativity, daring, originality, and resourcefulness on the golf course.

Ballesteros fired a second-round 65 to get within two strokes of leader Hale Irwin, who opened with back-to-back 68s just a month after winning the 1979 U.S. Open. Ballesteros and Irwin matched 75s in the third round, keeping Irwin's lead at two. Ben Crenshaw and Jack Nicklaus were in the mix, too.

In the final round, Irwin collapsed, shooting 78. He wound up in sixth place. Crenshaw (71) and Nicklaus (72) were solid, but they tied for second, three strokes behind.

Ballesteros was not "solid" — he sprayed drives all over the place — but he somehow wound up with the best score among the fourth-round leaders, a 70. He did it despite missing eight of nine fairways when using his driver. One of those wayward drives even bounded into a temporary parking lot.

But every time Ballesteros got himself into trouble, he got himself out of it with imaginative shotmaking. Seve found that parking lot on the 16th hole of the final round. After a free drop, he hit a pitch shot onto the green, then made birdie with a 20-foot putt. Ballesteros hit the kind of recovery shots that caused Crenshaw to remark, years later, that "Seve plays shots I don't even see in my dreams."

And ultimately, Ballesteros' ability to recover from trouble, his short-game creativity, gave him his first major championship trophy. It also made him the first Open Championship winner from Continental Europe since Frenchman Arnaud Massy won the 1907 Open.

This year marked the final appearance in any major by Roberto de Vicenzo, the 1967 British Open winner. And 5-time British Open champ Peter Thomson made the cut for the last time this year, finishing tied for 26th. For Nicklaus, this was the last of his record seven second-place finishes in the Open.

1979 British Open Final Scores

Seve Ballesteros 73-65-75-70—283
Ben Crenshaw 72-71-72-71—286
Jack Nicklaus 72-69-73-72—286
Mark James 76-69-69-73—287
Rodger Davis 75-70-70-73—288
Hale Irwin 68-68-75-78—289
Isao Aoki 70-74-72-75—291
Graham Marsh 74-68-75-74—291
Bob Byman 73-70-72-76—291
Jumbo Ozaki 75-69-75-73—292
Greg Norman 73-71-72-76—292
Bob Charles 78-72-70-72—292
John O'Leary 73-73-74-73—293
Wally Armstrong 74-74-73-72—293
Terry Gale 71-74-75-73—293
Simon Owen 75-76-74-68—293
Lee Trevino 71-73-74-76—294
a-Peter McEvoy 71-74-72-77—294
Orville Moody 71-74-76-74—295
Sandy Lyle 74-76-75-70—295
Ken Brown 72-71-75-77—295
Gary Player 77-74-69-75—295
Nick Faldo 74-74-78-69—295
Tony Jacklin 73-74-76-73—296
Toru Nakamura 77-75-67-77—296
Ed Sneed 76-75-70-76—297
Peter Thomson 76-75-72-74—297
Jerry Pate 69-74-76-78—297
Tom Watson 72-68-76-81—297
Armando Saavedra 76-76-73-73—298
Tom Kite 73-74-77-74—298
Simon Hobday 75-77-71-75—298
Bobby Verwey 75-77-74-72—298
Mark Hayes 75-75-77-71—298
Bill Longmuir 65-74-77-82—298
Lee Elder 75-72-76-76—299
Raymond Floyd 76-73-71-79—299
Peter Cowen 79-72-72-76—299
Christy O'Connor 79-73-71-76—299
Michael King 75-70-73-81—299
Philippe Toussaint 76-75-74-75—300
Martin Foster 77-75-74-74—300
Hugh Baiocchi 72-73-78-77—300
Peter Oosterhuis 75-74-73-78—300
John Schroeder 74-75-72-79—300
Denis Watson 75-70-76-79—300
Hubert Green 77-71-73-79—300
Noel Ratcliffe 79-73-72-76—300
Dennis Clark 72-69-76-83—300
Carl Mason 77-72-76-76—301
Garry Cullen 72-74-77-78—301
Brian Barnes 78-71-77-75—301
Dewitt Weaver 73-71-80-77—301
Geoff Parslow 75-75-76-76—302
Ian Richardson 75-73-77-77—302
Kosaku Shimada 75-74-75-78—302
Yoshitaka Yamamoto 76-74-77-76—303
Johnny Miller 77-73-77-76—303
Jack Newton 76-73-78-76—303
Guy Wolstenholme 77-75-71-80—303
Robin Fyfe 74-73-79-81—307

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