ROYAL BIRKDALE, 1983
WATSON JOINS THE FIVE TIMES WINNER CLUB
The 1983 Open Championship was played at Royal Birkdale. In hot, dry conditions, American Craig Stadler took the first round lead with a course record 64. Three shots behind him were Tom Watson, Bernhard Langer and Bill Rogers. Englishman Nick Faldo was a further stroke back on 68, along with four others.
Stadler held onto the lead at the halfway stage with a round of 70 for a total of 134. Lee Trevino, after a 66 and Watson with a 68 were one stroke behind on 135. Faldo was fourth, a stroke behind and Hale Irwin was fifth on 137.
A round of 70 saw Watson top the leader board after three rounds with a score of 205. Stadler dropped to second place, a shot behind, whilst three players, including Faldo were on 207. Hale Irwin’s round of 72 included a fresh air shot on the 14th hole when he tried to tap in a two-inch putt. He was four strokes off the pace.
Australian Graham Marsh, who started early because he was eight strokes behind, tied Stadler’s record with a score of 64 to set an early clubhouse target of 277. At the end of nine holes, Faldo was on course to tie Marsh, with Watson, Raymond Floyd, Irwin and Andy Bean all on six under par whilst Trevino was on five under. Faldo’s challenge faded with bogeys at the 12th, 14th and 16th holes and he finished on 280. Bean and Irwin continued their bids for the title with rounds of 67 to finish on 276, eight under par, setting a target for Watson who was three holes behind them, also at eight under.
At the 415 yard par-four 16th hole, Watson played a perfect three-wood onto the fairway and then hit an 8-iron to within 20 feet of the hole. He holed the putt for a birdie three to go nine under and go one shot ahead of Bean and Irwin. Watson hooked his tee shot at the 17th and worked hard to settle for a par five.
He needed to play the 18th in four strokes to take the title. Watson’s drive left him about 213 yards from the hole. He played his second with a 2-iron and drilled to within about twenty feet of the hole. That gave him the luxury of two putts and he needed them both. The first putt was within inches of the hole and an easy tap in gave Watson his fifth Open victory with a score of 275.