Magical Major memories on Merseyside – 1954

As golf oldest Major beckons at Royal Birkdale in Southport, Merseyside from July 20-23 we’re looking back at the unforgettable moments of drama that unfolded during the nine previous occasions the famous venue has hosted The Open. 

Thomson’s reign begins

Having opened in 1889 and undergone extensive renovation and redesign in 1922, Birkdale was originally primed to host the 1940 Open Championship  but the small matter of the outbreak of WWII put the kibosh on those plans.

In 1954, 14 years later, the Southport course’s big moment finally came and so too did it come for Australia’s Peter Thomson, who began a spellbinding love affair with golf’s oldest Major by winning the first of five Claret Jugs with a one-stroke victory over Bobby Locke, Dai Rees and Syd Scott.

The crucial moment in the final round was a brilliant approach shot from a steep sloped lie in a bunker on the 16th, which he hit with his eyes closed only to open them and see the ball had landed just inches from the pin.

“That won it for me, no doubt,” he said. “Had I made a mess of that one, I’d have been a goner.”

The Aussie went on to win the next two Opens, becoming the only player in the modern era to win the tournament three times on the trot.