#37: First Open Championship
Arnold Palmer’s first win at The Open Championship in 1961 is the stuff of legend, complete with horrendous weather, terrible conditions, and a single shot that seems impossible even today.
“I wanted this championship more than anything in my life,” he said upon winning. “But anything you want real bad is awfully hard to get.” The last American to have won it was Ben Hogan, in 1953, and it didn’t look good for Palmer in 1961, his second year at the event. Royal Birkdale was besieged by wind and rain, and when, in the final round, his ball came to rest behind a blackberry bush, the challenge seemed too much. His caddie urged him to just punch it back on the fairway, but Palmer switched from a seven- to a six-iron and smashed a shot that landed on the green some 150 yards away. “I have never hit a ball so hard in all my life,” Palmer said later, after taking the first of his two Claret Jugs and winning the hearts of the British crowd forever.