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1979 British Open
Recap and Scores for the 1979 British Open Golf Tournament

At the 1976 British Open, when he was 19 years old, Seve Ballesteros finished second and signalled to the golf world that a great new talent was emerging. Over the next couple years, Ballesteros won in Europe, America, Japan, New Zealand and even Africa.

And then, three years later, what seemed inevitable in 1976 happened at the 1979 British Open: Ballesteros won the Open Championship.

His victory at the 1979 British Open was his first in any major, and the way in which he won it helped cement Ballesteros' reputation for creativity, daring, originality, and resourcefulness on the golf course.

Ballesteros fired a second-round 65 to get within two strokes of leader Hale Irwin, who opened with back-to-back 68s just a month after winning the 1979 U.S. Open. Ballesteros and Irwin matched 75s in the third round, keeping Irwin's lead at two. Ben Crenshaw and Jack Nicklaus were in the mix, too.

In the final round, Irwin collapsed, shooting 78. He wound up in sixth place. Crenshaw (71) and Nicklaus (72) were solid, but they tied for second, three strokes behind.

Ballesteros was not "solid" - he sprayed drives all over the place - but he somehow wound up with the best score among the fourth-round leaders, a 70. He did it despite missing eight of nine fairways when using his driver. One of those wayward drives even bounded into a temporary parking lot.

But every time Ballesteros got himself into trouble, he got himself out of it with imaginative shotmaking. He hit the kind of recovery shots that caused Crenshaw to remark, years later, that "Seve plays shots I don't even see in my dreams."

And ultimately, Ballesteros' ability to recover from trouble, his short-game creativity, gave him his first major championship.

This year marked the final appearance in any major by Roberto de Vicenzo, the 1967 British Open winner. And 5-time British Open champ Peter Thomson made the cut for the last time this year, finishing tied for 26th.

1979 British Open Golf Tournament Scores
Results from the 1979 British Open golf tournament played on the par-71 Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire, England (a-amateur):

Seve Ballesteros 73-65-75-70--283 $31,500
Ben Crenshaw 72-71-72-71--286 $23,625
Jack Nicklaus 72-69-73-72--286 $23,625
Mark James 76-69-69-73--287 $15,750
Rodger Davis 75-70-70-73--288 $13,650
Hale Irwin 68-68-75-78--289 $12,600
Isao Aoki 70-74-72-75--291 $10,500
Graham Marsh 74-68-75-74--291 $10,500
Bob Byman 73-70-72-76--291 $10,500
Jumbo Ozaki 75-69-75-73--292 $8,400
Greg Norman 73-71-72-76--292 $8,400
Bob Charles 78-72-70-72--292 $8,400
John O'Leary 73-73-74-73--293 $6,562
Wally Armstrong 74-74-73-72--293 $6,562
Terry Gale 71-74-75-73--293 $6,562
Simon Owen 75-76-74-68--293 $6,562
Lee Trevino 71-73-74-76--294 $5,250
a-Peter McEvoy 71-74-72-77--294  
Orville Moody 71-74-76-74--295 $3,801
Sandy Lyle 74-76-75-70--295 $3,801
Ken Brown 72-71-75-77--295 $3,801
Gary Player 77-74-69-75--295 $3,801
Nick Faldo 74-74-78-69--295 $3,801
Tony Jacklin 73-74-76-73--296 $2,415
Toru Nakamura 77-75-67-77--296 $2,415
Ed Sneed 76-75-70-76--297 $1,863
Peter Thomson 76-75-72-74--297 $1,863
Jerry Pate 69-74-76-78--297 $1,863
Tom Watson 72-68-76-81--297 $1,863
Armando Saavedra 76-76-73-73--298 $1,496
Tom Kite 73-74-77-74--298 $1,496
Simon Hobday 75-77-71-75--298 $1,496
Bobby Verwey 75-77-74-72--298 $1,496
Mark Hayes 75-75-77-71--298 $1,496
Bill Longmuir 65-74-77-82--298 $1,496
Lee Elder 75-72-76-76--299 $1,207
Raymond Floyd 76-73-71-79--299 $1,207
Peter Cowen 79-72-72-76--299 $1,207
Christy O'Connor 79-73-71-76--299 $1,207
Michael King 75-70-73-81--299 $1,207
Philippe Toussaint 76-75-74-75--300 $1,003
Martin Foster 77-75-74-74--300 $1,003
Hugh Baiocchi 72-73-78-77--300 $1,003
Peter Oosterhuis 75-74-73-78--300 $1,003
John Schroeder 74-75-72-79--300 $1,003
Denis Watson 75-70-76-79--300 $1,003
Hubert Green 77-71-73-79--300 $1,003
Noel Ratcliffe 79-73-72-76--300 $1,003
Dennis Clark 72-69-76-83--300 $1,003
Carl Mason 77-72-76-76--301 $971
Garry Cullen 72-74-77-78--301 $971
Brian Barnes 78-71-77-75--301 $971
Dewitt Weaver 73-71-80-77--301 $971
Geoff Parslow 75-75-76-76--302 $945
Ian Richardson 75-73-77-77--302 $945
Kosaku Shimada 75-74-75-78--302 $945
Yoshitaka Yamamoto 76-74-77-76--303 $945
Johnny Miller 77-73-77-76--303 $945
Jack Newton 76-73-78-76--303 $945
Guy Wolstenholme 77-75-71-80--303 $945
Robin Fyfe 74-73-79-81--307 $945

Return to British Open Winners index for more tournament recaps

1978 British Open | 1980 British Open

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