1986 British Open Championship
Turnberry (Ailsa Course)
South Ayrshire, Scotland
July 14-20, 1986

A Major Victory, At Last

1986 British Open Championship
In Greg’s Words

I’ve never cried on a golf course before, but walking down the seventeenth and eighteenth in the final round at Turnberry, I was fighting to hold back the tears. Especially on the seventeenth. When I hit my approach in there about five or six feet, the people went crazy. That’s the dominant reflection I have from winning the 115th Open Championship at Turnberry. The people. They fell in behind us during the last one hundred and fifty yards of the seventeenth and the walk to that green was just as strong an emotion as during the traditional rugby scrum on the eighteenth fairway because by that time I realised and convinced myself that the championship was mine as long as I signed the scorecard correctly.

Truth be known, even when I was sitting at the presentation table waiting for them to give me the trophy, I was so scared I had done something wrong with the card. I just knew somebody was going to walk up and say, “Gee, I’m sorry, Greg, but we can’t give this to you after all.” I was petrified that I might have signed the card wrong or put down my nine-hole score in the box for the ninth hole.

It had all been so long in coming and after all the frustrations of the near-misses in the U.S. Open and U.S. Masters, I couldn’t believe I was sitting there in the champion’s chair and they were going to give me the championship trophy. It was only when I had that wonderful old loving cup in my hands that I convinced myself I had truly and irrevocably won.

Walking down the eighteenth was, in a word, overwhelming.

To get a standing ovation in any walk of life – professor, lawyer, president, whatever – is a wonderful experience. Winning a golf championship is a wonderful thing, especially when it’s the British Open, which is the true Open, the oldest championship in golf and in the country where I first won a professional tournament in Europe after venturing away from my native Australia. But the true reward is the emotions of the moment – the emotions of the spectators, of my friends, of the other players like Jack Nicklaus and Bruce Devlin and Fuzzy Zoeller and all the other people who got wrapped up in it just as much as I did. The emotion, to me, was the greatest thrill of winning the Open because I’ve never before experienced it to that degree.

Greg Norman