1989 British Open: Calc Wins In a Playoff

1989 British Open winner Mark Calcavecchia raises his arms in triumph
Mark Calcavecchia wins the 1989 British Open. Simon Bruty/Getty Images

The final round of the 1989 British Open began with journeyman Wayne Grady holding a 1-stroke lead over 5-time Open Champion Tom Watson. Most observers probably thought the conclusion was foregone: Watson would win.

But he didn't - and neither did Grady. Watson carded a 72 on Sunday, while Grady shot 71 to finish at 275, two strokes in front of Watson. Greg Norman, who began the day seven strokes behind Grady, scorched Royal Troon with a 64, forcing a tie.

And Mark Calcavecchia shot 68, joining Grady and Norman at 275 and creating a 3-way playoff. The British Open switched to a new playoff format this year. Previously, Open Championship playoffs were 18 holes. But at the 1989 British Open, the tournament switched to a 4-hole, cumulative score playoff.

So Grady, Norman and Calcavecchia played another four holes. By the fourth extra hole, Calcavecchia and Norman were tied, with Grady essentially out of it, two strokes behind.

Calcavecchia hit a bad slice off the tee, while Norman's drive boomed down the middle - only to roll into a deep, fairway bunker. Rather than use a lofted club to simply get the ball out of the bunker, Norman tried a heroic shot to reach the green. But the ball hit the face of the bunker and careened into a different bunker. From that bunker, Norman's next shot headed out of bounds. Norman basically picked up at that point, his chances down the drain.

Calcavecchia, meanwhile, hit a great recovery shot from his wayward drive, and wound up making birdie to win the 1989 British Open. The playoff scores were:

  • Calcavecchia, 4-3-3-3--13
  • Grady, 4-4-4-4--16
  • Norman, 3-3-4-x--x

It was Calcavecchia's sixth PGA Tour victory, but he had finished in the Top 10 of a major only once previously (second at the 1988 Masters).

He posted only two other Top 10s in majors over the rest of long PGA Tour career (long and successful - he finished with 13 tour victories).

Grady went on to win the 1990 PGA Championship (one of just two PGA Tour wins for Grady). Norman had already won the 1986 British Open, and won again at the 1993 British Open. But Norman also lost in playoffs at all four majors.

Arnold Palmer shot 82-82 and finished last. Palmer played the British Open only twice more after this, the 1990 and 1995 Opens at St. Andrews.

Future 3-time major winner Vijay Singh played in his very first major here and tied for 23rd.

1989 British Open Golf Tournament Scores

Results from the 1989 British Open golf tournament played on the par-72 Royal Troon Golf Club in Troon, South Ayrshire, Scotland (x-won four hole playoff; a-amateur):

x-Mark Calcavecchia71-68-68-68--275$128,000
Wayne Grady68-67-69-71--275$88,000
Greg Norman69-70-72-64--275$88,000
Tom Watson69-68-68-72--277$64,000
Jodie Mudd73-67-68-70--278$48,000
Fred Couples68-71-68-72--279$41,600
David Feherty71-67-69-72--279$41,600
Paul Azinger68-73-67-72--280$33,600
Payne Stewart72-65-69-74--280$33,600
Eduardo Romero68-70-75-67--280$33,600
Nick Faldo71-71-70-69--281$27,200
Mark McNulty75-70-70-66--281$27,200
Mark James69-70-71-72--282$20,800
Howard Clark72-68-72-70--282$20,800
Steve Pate69-70-70-73--282$20,800
Craig Stadler73-69-69-71--282$20,800
Philip Walton69-74-69-70--282$20,800
Roger Chapman76-68-67-71--282$20,800
Don Pooley73-70-69-71--283$13,720
Tom Kite70-74-67-72--283$13,720
Larry Mize71-74-66-72--283$13,720
Derrick Cooper69-70-76-68--283$13,720
Vijay Singh71-73-69-71--284$10,772
Davis Love III72-70-73-69--284$10,772
Jose Maria Olazabal68-72-69-75--284$10,772
Lanny Wadkins72-70-69-74--285$9,280
Scott Simpson73-66-72-74--285$9,280
Chip Beck75-69-68-73--285$9,280
Stephen Bennett75-69-68-73--285$9,280
Miguel Angel Martin68-73-73-72--286$7,537
Jumbo Ozaki71-73-70-72--286$7,537
Brian Marchbank69-74-73-70--286$7,537
Peter Jacobsen71-74-71-70--286$7,537
Gary Koch72-71-74-69--286$7,537
Jack Nicklaus74-71-71-70--286$7,537
Ian Baker-Finch72-69-70-75--286$7,537
Jeff Hawkes75-67-69-75--286$7,537
Mark Davis77-68-67-74--286$7,537
Mike Harwood71-72-72-72--287$6,560
Tommy Armour III70-71-72-74--287$6,560
Jeff Woodland74-67-75-71--287$6,560
Lee Trevino68-73-73-74--288$5,960
Mark O'Meara72-74-69-73--288$5,960
Raymond Floyd73-68-73-74--288$5,960
Jose Rivero71-75-72-70--288$5,960
Sandy Lyle73-73-71-72--289$5,680
Joe Ozaki71-71-69-78--289$5,680
Mark McCumber71-68-70-80--289$5,680
Christy O'Connor Jr.71-73-72-74--290$5,440
Ian Woosnam74-72-73-71--290$5,440
Johnny Miller72-69-76-73--290$5,440
Ben Crenshaw73-73-74-71--291$4,960
Mark Roe74-71-73-73--291$4,960
Tony Johnstone71-71-74-75--291$4,960
Jet Ozaki75-71-73-72--291$4,960
Gene Sauers70-73-72-76--291$4,960
Richard Boxall74-68-73-76--291$4,960
Michael Allen74-67-76-74--291$4,960
Brett Ogle74-70-76-71--291$4,960
Emmanuel Dussart76-68-73-74--291$4,960
Curtis Strange70-74-74-74--292$4,280
Mike Reid74-72-73-73--292$4,280
Ronan Rafferty70-72-74-76--292$4,280
Bob Tway76-70-71-75--292$4,280
Paul Hoad72-71-77-72--292$4,280
David Graham74-72-69-77--292$4,280
Wayne Stephens66-72-76-78--292$4,280
Ken Green75-71-68-78--292$4,280
a-Russell Claydon70-74-74-75--293 
Luis Carbonetti71-72-74-76--293$3,880
Sandy Stephen71-74-71-77--293$3,880
Colin Gillies72-74-74-74--294$3,840
Brad Faxon72-72-75-76--295$3,840
Peter Teravainen72-73-72-78--295$3,840
Emlyn Aubrey72-73-73-78--296$3,840
Martin Sludds72-74-73-78--297$3,840
Seve Ballesteros72-73-76-78--299$3,840
a-Robert Karlsson75-70-76-78--299 
Gavin Levenson69-76-77-79--301$3,840
Bernhard Langer71-73-83-82--309$3,840

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