Based on a Troon Story: What happened at the 2004 Open Championship


There is a sense of history at Royal Troon that few sporting venues can match.

This week the Scottish course will host its ninth Open Championship and another chapter will be added to its storied past.

It has been 12 years since Troon last staged golf's oldest major and here we take a look at some of the omens from the 2004 tournament.




Troon has developed a habit of crowning first-time major winners, which does not bode well for the likes of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.

It was a 38-year-old Todd Hamilton who sealed his one and only triumph at one of golf's four leading events the last time it was played at the South Ayrshire venue.

His play-off success at the expense of Ernie Els, who had won it two years earlier at Muirfield in a four-way shootout, followed on from Mark Calcavecchia (1989) and Justin Leonard (1997).

None of that trio - who go off in the same group on Thursday - have ever added to their major haul, though.




Lee Westwood has made an unwanted habit of getting tantalisingly close to major success, only to narrowly miss out.

So finishing fourth in 2004 was a sign of things to come.

At the time it was his best finish at a major and probably cause for great optimism. A Claret Jug or green jacket was surely coming his way.

But it simply laid the foundation for more than a decade of further hurt, with Westwood still waiting to break his duck after 13 further top-10 finishes at headline events.




The eighth hole at Troon has earned itself a fitting nickname - the Postage Stamp.

So called because of its tiny green, which is flanked by round-ruining bunkers, the shortest hole in Open Championship golf is also one of the hardest.

The putting surface is only 123 yards from the tee, but finding it is another matter. 

But one man did master it on the Open's last visit, with Els acing it in the first round, echoing the feat of a 71-year-old Gene Sarezen in 1973.




A course such as Troon is never going to let players get away with just one nightmare hole and some may wish they were back on the eighth tee once they get a look at 11.

It rated as the toughest hole in 1997 and 2004, with a stroke average of 4.41 in the latter edition.

Big names have fallen foul of the par-four Railway hole, which measures 482 yards to encourage a bold approach off the tee, then frequently punishes players for accepting the challenge.

The wind can really pick up on the back nine and even the biggest hitters will face testing approach shots at a hole where Jack Nicklaus famously made a 10 in 1962, when it was still a par five.




Of the last three Opens at Troon, two have been decided via play-offs. The 2015 tournament also went beyond the four rounds, with Zach Johnson prevailing on a Monday finish.

With such a competitive field and numerous genuine contenders for the crown, who would bet against further extra-holes drama?