ARNOLD PALMER'S British Open debut, in 1960 at the Old Course at St. Andrews, marked a turning point in the history of golf's oldest major. Necessitating long travel and promising only a modest purse, the event had fallen out of favor with many U.S. golfers in the years after World War II. The only American to have won the event in 14 years was Ben Hogan at Carnoustie in 1953; in '59, no U.S.player even made the cut at Muirfield.
But three weeks after capturing the 1960 U.S. Open, making up seven shots in the final round at Cherry Hills for his second major victory of the year, a 31-year-old Palmer set out for Scotland and turned in another rousing weekend run. Sitting four strokes behind Australian Kel Nagle at the turn in the final round, Palmer (far right, with caddie James "Tip" Anderson) stormed back and birdied three of his final six holes, the last with a roar-inducing three-foot putt on 18. Nagle answered with a par to win by one stroke, but the exciting finish inspired a generation. Palmer went on to take the next two Open Championships, and in the following 21 years the names of American players would grace the Claret Jug 14 times.
Now, for the 147th Open, which tees off on July 15, the field of favorites at Carnoustie will be littered with U.S. pros, led by world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and defending champion Jordan Spieth. Looking to extend their streak of dominance in majors—American players have won each of the last five—they'll also be following in the path blazed by the King.
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