John Daly, 1995
Major CV: Arguably the greatest surprise in this illustrious list, Daly backed up his shock 1991 PGA Championship win with a second Major at the Home of Golf.
St Andrews moment: Daly captured the 1995 Open after a four-hole play-off with Italian Costantino Rocca, who famously holed out from the Valley of Sin on the 72nd hole. Winning score: 282 (-6, £125,000 prize money).
Why is St Andrews so special?
It’s the Home of Golf and definitely sets itself alone to any other venue. But, of course, to win where golf originated makes it even more special to me! I love St Andrews and playing there two years earlier in the Dunhill Cup certainly helped me in 1995. In the Dunhill, I won four matches and lost one. It’s a great course – the best in Europe for me.
What is your favourite hole?
It has to be the 17th just because if you make par it feels like a birdie. It’s definitely the hardest hole on the course. It’s not a hole I would like to have to make birdie to win the championship. I think there were only 10 birdies on it that week in 1995 and in the play-off I hit the green for about the first time that week. It’s nice to know when you tee off at most holes if you miss it left, it’s fine. This is St Andrews – we don’t face 180ft putts in the United States and greens like a Canadian football field!
What would be your stand-out St Andrews moment?
Still to this day, the overall memories are how well I putted that week. To win at St Andrews is a lifetime’s dream for any golfer. Winning the play-off was awesome. Before the play-off a lot of Americans came over, including some of the players, and they were right behind me. Brad Faxon just said “hey, just go get him. Bring it back home” and stuff like that. Any time you win a Major championship, especially overseas, it’s great and we hadn’t won the British Open since Mark Calcavecchia in 1989. I felt a lot of pressure, but I won in the way I’m supposed to play the game. After the play-off I couldn’t hear my mum and dad – they were crying so much. The night before the final round I got stuck into two steaks and six cups of chocolate ice cream plus a few choc chip muffins!
Is today’s Old Course too short and easy for the modern game?
Most British Open courses you can attack if it’s not windy and they can play easier, but watch out when that wind blows! It will play so hard because all of the bunkers and trouble come into play. I know, with three holes left, it had my knees shaking along with my whole body. I’ve never felt like that before.
Will the Open still be played on the Old Course in 100 years time?
In my opinion, it will be because you can never take the “home” away from something or someone.
Who is your tip to win the Claret Jug this year?
You say Claret Jug and I say…. “I hope it’s just me!”