1997 British Open: Leonard Prevails after Baker-Finch Hits Bottom

Justin Leonard shows off the Claret Jug after winning the 1997 British Open
Justin Leonard shows off the Claret Jug after winning the 1997 British Open. David Cannon/Getty Images

Justin Leonard won his first major championship at the 1997 British Open, but in some ways this tournament will always be remembered as the nadir in the collapse of Ian Baker-Finch's golf game.

Baker-Finch was a telegenic, friendly, popular and very good golfer in the late 1980s and early 1990s whose career seemed ready to take off after he won the 1991 Open Championship. But soon thereafter a combination of swing changes and confidence problems knocked his game backwards.

He never recovered, spiralling downward.

Until he reached the 1997 Open and carded a first-round 92. Baker-Finch withdrew and, according to some reports, fell to the floor in the clubhouse in tears. He essentially disappeared from PGA Tour golf after that. (See related: 6 Great Golfers Who Suddenly Lost Their Games)

That was the bad news in the 1997 British Open. The good news was the stellar player of Leonard, who made up a three-stroke deficit to Jesper Parnevik after three rounds and ended up with a three-stroke margin of victory over Parnevik and Darren Clarke. Leonard did that with clutch putting and a final-round score of 65.

1997 British Open Scores

Results and prize money (USD) from the 1997 British Open played at Royal Troon (par 71) in Troon, Scotland (a-amateur):

Justin Leonard, $418,87569-66-72-65-272
Darren Clarke, $251,32567-66-71-71-275
Jesper Parnevik, $251,32570-66-66-73-275
Jim Furyk, $150,79567-72-70-70-279
Stephen Ames, $104,71974-69-66-71-280
Padraig Harrington, $104,71975-69-69-67-280
Peter O'Malley, $68,13773-70-70-68-281
Eduardo Romero, $68,13774-68-67-72-281
Fred Couples, $68,13769-68-70-74-281
Robert Allenby, $40,71576-68-66-72-282
Lee Westwood, $40,71573-70-67-72-282
Retief Goosen, $40,71575-69-70-68-282
Tom Kite, $40,71572-67-74-69-282
Frank Nobilo, $40,71574-72-68-68-282
Mark Calcavecchia, $40,71574-67-72-69-282
Shigeki Maruyama, $40,71574-69-70-69-282
Davis Love III, $40,71570-71-74-67-282
Ernie Els, $40,71575-69-69-69-282
Tom Watson, $40,71571-70-70-71-282
Stuart Appleby, $24,29572-72-68-71-283
Brad Faxon, $24,29577-67-72-67-283
Mark James, $24,29576-67-70-70-283
Jose Maria Olazabal, $24,29575-68-73-67-283
Tom Lehman, $17,36274-72-72-66-284
Jay Haas, $17,36271-70-73-70-284
Colin Montgomerie, $17,36276-69-69-70-284
Phil Mickelson, $17,36276-68-69-71-284
Ian Woosnam, $17,36271-73-69-71-284
David A. Russell, $17,36275-72-68-69-284
Peter Lonard, $17,36272-70-69-73-284
Tiger Woods, $17,36272-74/64-74-284
Mark McNulty, $14,66178-67-72-68-285
Rodger Davis, $13,87973-73-70-70-286
David Duval, $13,87973-69-73-71-286
Jonathan Lomas, $13,87972-71-69-74-286
Andrew Magee, $13,32070-75-72-70-287
Greg Norman, $13,32069-73-70-75-287
Raymond Russell, $12,65072-72-74-70-288
Michael Bradley, $12,65072-73-73-70-288
Mark O'Meara, $12,65073-73-74-68-288
John Kernohan, $12,65076-70-74-68-288
Vijay Singh, $12,65077-69-70-72-288
Bernhard Langer, $12,65072-74-69-73-288
Jerry Kelly, $11,81276-68-72-73-289
David Tapping, $11,81271-66-78-74-289
Jose Coceres, $11,81276-70-71-72-289
Curtis Strange, $11,81271-71-70-77-289
Jim Payne, $11,22674-71-74-71-290
Steve Jones, $11,22676-71-68-75-290
Richard Boxall, $11,22675-71-72-72-290
Jeff Maggert, $10,31576-69-71-75-291
Nick Faldo, $10,31571-73-75-72-291
Peter Senior, $10,31576-70-73-72-291
Greg Turner, $10,31576-71-72-72-291
Angel Cabrera, $10,31570-70-76-75-291
Corey Pavin, $10,31578-69-76-68-291
Peter Mitchell, $10,31575-69-76-71-291
Wayne Riley, $10,31574-71-75-71-291
Payne Stewart, $9,71873-74-71-74-292
Jack Nicklaus, $9,63473-74-71-75-293
a-D. Barclay Howard70-74-76-73-293
Tom Purtzer, $9,42572-71-73-78-294
Steve Stricker, $9,42572-73-74-75-294
Peter Teravainen, $9,42574-72-73-75-294
Jamie Spence, $9,42578-69-72-75-294
Gary Clark, $9,13174-72-72-77-295
Paul McGinley, $9,13176-71-77-71-295
Per-Ulrik Johansson, $9,13172-75-73-75-295
Tommy Tolles, $8,96477-68-75-76-296
Billy Andrade, $8,88072-72-78-76-298

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