1985: Sandy Lyle wins The Open at Royal St. Georges; 1st Scot to win in 65 years


Sandy Lyle wins the Open Championship

By: Josh Morris – On this day, In 1985 Sandy Lyle became the 1st Scotsman to win the Open in 65 years at Royal St. Georges in Sandwich, England.  He triumphed to his 1st major title by besting American Payne Stewart by one stroke, shooting +2 for a 282 total.  Stewart shot one of the lowest closing rounds of the field, a 68, in effort to catch the Scot.  Lyle shot 68-71-73 with a final round of 70 which was enough for the win and £65,000.

Three years later, Lyle would add to his major resume by collecting a green jacket at the 1988 Masters with an amazing bunker blast on the final hole.

Sandy Lyle of Scotland holds the Claret Jug trophy after winning the British Open on 21 July 1985 at the Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Sandwich, Kent, England.

The last Scottish born player to win The Open before Lyle was George Duncan, who won the 55th Open at Royal Clinque Ports.  This was a stark contrast to the early domination by the Scots earlier in the Open’s history.  For instance, many of the first Open Championships had fields made up of entirely Scottish born golfers. From its inception in 1860 to 1889, only Scottish players won.  It wasn’t until 1890 when Englishman John Ball became the first non-Scot to win the event.

Sad thing is that Lyle’s win technically came on English soil, that being in Sandwich, England.  Scotland would have to wait until 1999 when Paul Lawrie over came Jean van de Velde & Justin Leonard to win  any Carnoustie, Scotland.   Lawrie, down by ten strokes at the start of the fourth round, completed the biggest final round comeback in major championship history, headlined by van de Velde’s triple-bogey at the last hole.


  • This was the 1st cut Jack Nicklaus missed in 24 consecutive Open Championships
  • Want to play Sandy Lyle present day? Forget about the 2008 Open. Odds are he could use hickory sticks and still beat you.  He is the 2014 & 2016 World Hickory Open Champion and event that has annually been held in Scotland the last ten years.
  • This week marks the 125th anniversary of the first British Open. In honor of that anniversary, the Prestwick Golf Club will present a replica of the belt to this year’s champion. The 1985 belt cost just under $:1,000, according to Donald MacLellan, Captain of Prestwick Golf Club. He said the original silver belt cost $:25 pounds in 1860.
  • “There is a long-held belief, resulting in an occasional wager, that the first time a golfer with a 10 handicap or higher plays Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey he will not break 90. The score could be raised to 110, and the same wager could apply on a windy first attempt at Royal St. George’s Golf Club, the site of this week’s British Open.” – From the New York Times after the third round.
  • Anyone remember this?  During the 1985 Open Peter Jacobsen was forced to tackle a streaker parading around the 18th green.  Jacobsen delivered an expert tackle and luckily kept his mouth closed.


Josh Morris

Josh Morris is the Editor of Golf History Today. A proud USGA Volunteer and golf enthusiast. In his free time he enjoys being a weekend caddie as well as playing as much as he can.

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