1970 British Open Winner and Scores

The 1970 British Open was the 99th time the tournament was played, and Jack Nicklaus won it in an 18-hole playoff.

Winner: Jack Nicklaus, 283

Where it was played: The Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland

Tournament dates: July 8-12, 1970

Leader after first round: Neil Coles, 65

Leader after second round: Lee Trevino, 136

Leader after third round: Lee Trevino, 208

What Happened in the 1970 Open Championship

The 1970 British Open is best remembered for two things: a missed putt and a thrown putter. The thrown putter was not the one that missed the putt, however.

Jack Nicklaus and Doug Sanders battled throughout the final round. They started the final 18 tied, two strokes behind third-round leader Lee Trevino. But Trevino struggled to a 77 and finished in second, along with Harold Henning. (Don't feel bad for Trevino: He won the next two Opens, in 1971 and 1972.)

After extricating himself from the Road Hole bunker on No. 17 and making par, Sanders reached the final green of the Old Course at St. Andrews needing another par to beat Nicklaus by a stroke. He was on the green in two, and his first putt lagged to about 2 1/2 feet short of the cup. It wasn't an easy putt — a downhill, left-to-righter — but still, it was less than three feet. As he stood over the ball, something in Sanders' line distracted him. He waved it away, then got back over the ball without re-setting, or starting his routine over.

And then he missed the putt.

An 18-hole playoff with Nicklaus followed the next day, and Sanders stayed with the Golden Bear throughout. On the last hole, though, Nicklaus didn't miss when he had a winning putt.

On the 18th tee, leading by one stroke, Nicklaus famously removed his sweater to free up his range of motion. He pulled driver and gave it a mighty wallop, and drove the ball over the green 360 yards away. Nicklaus chipped to eight feet, then sank the birdie putt. Nicklaus defeated Sanders in the playoff, 72 to 73.

And that's where the thrown putter comes in. Uncharacteristically, Nicklaus flung his putter into the air when that winning putt dropped, overcome with joy at winning on The Old Course, the home of golf. (Quickly realizing what he'd done, Nicklaus then covered his head with his arms in case the putter came down on top of him.)

Sanders won 20 times in his PGA Tour career, and finished second in majors four times, including to Nicklaus at the 1966 British Open. But he never won a major. For Nicklaus, this was his second British Open victory and eighth overall win in a professional major. It also ended a three-year drought for Nicklaus during which he went winless in majors, the longest such period in his career to this point.

This was the first 18-hole playoff at the Open; previous playoffs were 36 holes. Denny Shute, winner of the 1933 British Open, played this tournament for the final time (at age 66) and missed the cut.

1970 British Open Final Scores

Jack Nicklaus 68-69-73-73—283 (72)
Doug Sanders 68-71-71-73—283 (73)
Harold Henning 67-72-73-73—285
Lee Trevino 68-68-72-77—285
Tony Jacklin 67-70-73-76—286
Neil Coles 65-74-72-76—287
Peter Oosterhuis 73-69-69-76—287
Hugh Jackson 69-72-73-74—288
Tommy Horton 66-73-75-75—289
John Panton 72-73-73-71—289
Peter Thomson 68-74-73-74—289
Arnold Palmer 68-72-76-74—290
Maurice Bembridge 67-74-75-76—292
Bob Charles 72-73-73-74—292
John Richardson 67-72-76-77—292
Bert Yancey 71-71-73-77—292
Roberto Bernardini 75-69-74-75—293
Billy Casper 71-74-73-75—293
Clive Clark 69-70-77-77—293
Roberto De Vicenzo 71-76-71-75—293
Christy O'Connor Sr. 72-68-74-79—293
Walter Godfrey 71-75-74-74—294
Tom Weiskopf 70-74-72-78—294
Guy Wolstenholme 68-77-72-77—294
Bruce Devlin 72-76-72-75—295
Graham Marsh 75-72-74-74—295
Ronnie Shade 72-75-69-79—295
Stuart Brown 73-73-71-79—296
Bobby Cole 71-76-71-78—296
Brian Huggett 68-78-73-77—296
Tom Shaw 73-71-73-79—296
Peter Alliss 69-74-78-76—297
Brian Barnes 69-74-75-79—297
Gay Brewer 69-74-74-80—297
Eric Brown 73-72-74-78—297
Dale Douglass 75-71-73-78—297
David Graham 72-72-74-79—297
Florentino Molina 67-75-78-77—297
Kel Nagle 71-74-73-79—297
Dave Thomas 70-72-76-79—297
Alex Caygill 74-72-74-78—298
Tony Grubb 72-77-71-78—298
Dave Marr 71-71-74-82—298
a-Steve Melnyk 69-74-76-79—298
Jimmy Hume 72-75-76-76—299
Peter Townsend 72-73-74-80—299
George Will 69-78-74-78—299
Guy Hunt 72-70-80-78—300
Jimmy Martin 71-74-75-80—300
Tommy Aaron 68-74-79-80—301
a-Warren Humphreys 73-73-76-79—301
Tomas Lopez 70-72-75-84—301
Norman Wood 73-73-77-78—301
Derek Small 69-74-80-79—302
Davis Love Jr. 71-74-73-85—303
Richard Livingston 75-73-75-81—304
Sandy Walker 70-78-75-84—307

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