It was on July 9, 1977 that Tom Watson struck his most famous 7-iron shot, a laser from 178 yards on the 18th fairway of the Ailsa course at Turnberry. The then-27-year-old saw his ball finish two feet from the cup — and all but clinched the second of his five Open victories.
Jack Nicklaus, Watson’s playing partner and nearest challenger, wasn’t quite finished. Minutes after slashing his own approach from the edge of gorse bushes right of the fairway to the edge of the putting surface, the Golden Bear holed from about 30 feet for an unlikely birdie.
Suddenly, Watson had to make his own putt for the win, which he did, albeit a tad nervously.
Now, 35 years later, the climax to what has become known as the «Duel in the Sun» has been commemorated. In a brief ceremony before the Senior British Open — an event Watson won at Turnberry in 2003 — a plaque was unveiled on the site of his brilliant approach.
«This is a special moment for me,» said Watson, who nearly won a sixth claret jug over the picturesque Ayrshire links three years ago. «And it is a special day to be remembered for a shot that meant a lot to me. Probably the most important thing was that it helped me win over the greatest player in the world, the greatest player ever to play the game. It was a moment that confirmed to me that I could play, and that I could play competitively against the best in the world.»