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St Andrews 2024

St Andrews


Iconic moments at the home of golf

Stacy Lewis tees off on the 18th hole at St Andrews

St Andrews, the spiritual home of golf, has enjoyed an abundance of magical moments over the years.

Be it Tiger Woods winning the Claret Jug to achieve the immortalising career Grand Slam in 2000, or Jack Nicklaus waving a tearful goodbye to the Old Course in front of gushing galleries in 2005, this almost mythical venue has staged some truly memorable events which have been etched into golfing history.

With St Andrews set to stage the AIG Women’s Open in August, we take a look back at five of the most famous acts that have taken place at golf’s most famous course:

Lee Trevino and Doug Sanders at St Andrews in 1970

1970: Agony for Sanders

It is arguably the most famous missed putt in the history of The Open.

In the final round of The 99th Open, flamboyant American Doug Sanders (above, right) needed to par the 18th to clinch a one-stroke victory over Nicklaus and claim his first major title.

Just three feet from the hole, Sanders appeared to stab at the ball and the crowd gasped as it drifted to the right. This improbable miss led to the Championship’s first 18-hole play-off which Nicklaus duly won.

Sanders enjoyed a very successful career, winning 20 times on the PGA TOUR, but he never quite got over the line in majors, finishing runner-up on four occasions. And he was never as close as on the 18th green at St Andrews in 1970.

He later said: “I go back there and sometimes they say: ‘Doug, do you ever think about that putt and I say: ‘Oh, sometimes I go as high as five minutes when I ain’t thinking about it.’”

Seve Ballesteros celebrates his winning putt at St Andrews in 1984

1984: Seve’s famous fist pump

It’s a celebration as iconic as any in sport.

Seve Ballesteros grinning from ear to ear and punching the air in jubilation after sinking the birdie putt which ultimately won him The Open in 1984.

The enigmatic and much-loved Spaniard had been enjoying a final-day tussle with Open great Tom Watson, and it was neck-and-neck all the way down the stretch.

After Ballesteros holed his most famous putt, Watson, in the group behind, bogeyed the 17th, leaving himself needing a two at the last to extend the Championship.

With Watson unable to find the requisite eagle, the Claret Jug was Seve’s once again, and he left us with an image now synonymous with golf’s original major.

Seve later said that putt was the “happiest moment of my whole sporting life”.

1995: Rocca’s great escape

Needing an up-and-down to force a play-off with clubhouse leader John Daly, Constantino Rocca found himself just a few yards short of the 18th green.

A solid pitch onto the green and a close-range putt was required – but that’s not exactly what transpired.

The Italian inexplicably duffed his pitch into the ‘Valley of Sin’, some 65 feet from the hole, prompting television cameras to cut to Daly in an embrace with his wife, believing an Open victory was just seconds away.


The AIG Women's Open heads to St Andrews in August


What happened next left an indelible impression on The Open and on St Andrews.

Rocca punched his putt up and over the steep slope and the ball rolled towards the hole at pace before dropping into the cup.

The crowd roared and Rocca sank to his knees in disbelief. It is a putt that will be replayed for as long as golf is staged at St Andrews.

Though he went on to lose the play-off, Rocca’s remarkable putt means he will be remembered as one of The Open’s most famous runners-up.

Lorena Ochoa poses with the AIG Women's Open trophy on St Andrews' famous Swilcan Bridge

Lorena Ochoa poses with the trophy on the famous Swilcan Bridge

2007: Ochoa wins historic AIG Women’s Open

St Andrews celebrated a landmark occasion when it staged the AIG Women’s Open for the very first time, in 2007.

Mexico’s Lorena Ochoa, then the world number one, opened with an impressive 67 and led the Championship from the 9th hole of her first round, eventually winning by four strokes.

Ochoa is one of only three winners – and the most recent – to have led the AIG Women’s Open outright after every round.

A triathlete and a marathon runner, Ochoa became the first Mexican to win a major, making it even more special by doing so at the home of golf.

“This is the most special round of golf I ever played,” she said afterwards.

Stacy Lewis hits a 5-iron into the 17th at St Andrews in 2013

Stacy Lewis unleashes one of the best shots of her career

2013: Perfection from Lewis

Stacy Lewis said she “hit the perfect golf shot” on her way to AIG Women’s Open’s glory at St Andrews in 2013.

The American was adrift the top of the leaderboard and has admitted that she was simply aiming to par the 17th hole “and move on” in the closing stages of her final round.

But she then unleashed a monster 5-iron approach which sailed beautifully and bounced to within three feet of the hole, setting up the birdie chance which all but secured victory.

“[It] was definitely by far the coolest win I’ve ever had,” said Lewis.

Cameron Smith poses with the Claret Jug in front of the grandstand at St Andrews

Cam Smith | Champion Golfer of the Year 2022

2022: Everything has led to this…

Every Champion, every era and every cherished moment from the Championship’s rich and storied history was celebrated during a year of events to mark The 150th Open.

St Andrews was rightfully in the spotlight throughout and the venerable cathedral of golf was front and centre as Cam Smith wrapped up four epic days – and 12 memorable months – by holding aloft the Claret Jug on the 18th green.