Troon Champions: Mark Calcavecchia


Did you ever think you’d win a Major championship?
Yes, actually. I almost won the Masters in 1988 only to be denied when Sandy Lyle pulled off that amazing shot from the 18th bunker. I definitely thought I’d win the Masters. But I didn’t think too much about The Open, especially after I shot a million at Royal Lytham in 1988.

So what changed 12 months later?
As soon as I played my first practice round at Troon I loved the course. It was a great week weather-wise and I was playing great. Everything fell into place for me.

What were the deciding moments?
I got a couple of really good breaks on Sunday on 11 and 12 – I made a 50ft putt for par on 11, while 12 was the whole turnaround for the week. I’d not played the previous few holes very well and was struggling a bit, hitting my drive into the right rough and second shot short left of the green with a bare lie. I was just trying to get it on the back of the green to give myself a 20 to 30-footer for par, but it flew straight into the hole! That turned everything around. I parred the next three or four and birdied 16 and 18.

How much of a lift was that chip-in?
It really lifted my spirits. I played fantastic after that. It was a huge momentum boost. One minute I was down in the dumps, the next sky high...

What was the most crucial shot that week?
The last shot on the 72nd hole. Greg Norman was already in on -13 and Wayne Grady was four holes behind me and was about -15 at the time. I knew if I had any chance of getting into a play-off I had to birdie 18. I hit a great 8-iron from about 161 to within three or four feet. That was the big one and then Grady bogeyed 17.

What happened in the play-off?
I realised I had a great chance of winning when Norman drove it into the fairway bunker at 18 and I hit a 5-iron a few feet short of the hole.

How did you celebrate?
I stayed in room 10 at the then British Caledonian hotel in Ayr with my buddies. Every night we went up to the fourth floor bar and every time somebody would say ‘when I win the cup, I’d have to go back to the bar to celebrate’. I said it’s a deal, so that’s what we did.

How would you sum up Troon?
It’s a great course. Most of the time the wind is on your back on the front nine and you can shoot a good score. However, once you get to the 10th tee, it’s a case of hanging on. Get your birdies going out and make your pars coming in.

What does it take to win The Open?
You need to drive the ball well, keeping it on the fairway and out of the bunkers – they’re one-shot penalties!