1995: Steven Bottomley nearly wins the St Andrews Open

Unheralded Steven Bottomley came incredibly close to St Andrews' biggest Open upset in 1995

What might have been if Steven Bottomley could have got up and down from the Road bunker
(Image credit: Getty Images)

1995 was all about Costantino Rocca’s 72nd hole drama and John Daly’s victory in the end, but rank outsider Steve Bottomley very nearly stole the show

The 1995 Open at St Andrews had it all: the then unknown Michael Campbell leading by two going into the final round; a duffed chip followed by a hugely improbable putt from the Valley of Sin to force a play-off for Costantino Rocca; a streaker making a move on John Daly; and the mullet-haired American ultimately prevailing convincingly in a four-hole play off with the Italian.

A slight distraction for John Daly at his moment of triumph...

A slight distraction for John Daly at his moment of triumph...

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But for quite a long time on that final afternoon, the clubhouse lead was held by an unheralded Yorkshireman called Steven Bottomley, thanks to a remarkable final-round 69 that defied both the formbook and testing winds gusting at up to 40mph.

Bottomley, from Bingley in Yorkshire, had amassed just two top 10s and €130,000 in five full seasons on tour before July 1995 and had already been to the annual Tour School eight times since turning pro off a handicap of +2 in 1987.

He had played the Old Course just twice before that year’s Open (and has never been back since!), and had come through a nine-man play-off for eight spots in final qualifying at Ladybank after holing a 12-footer to save par on the first extra hole.

His first three rounds of 70, 72 and 72 at St Andrews were nothing special in the wider context, but still a solid effort for a man with little of any note so far that year on the CV.

A young Michael Campbell led going into the final round

A young Michael Campbell led going into the final round

That left him seven behind Campbell going into Sunday, but by the time he holed out for birdie on 18, he was the clubhouse leader, and would hold that position for an hour or so until Daly, and then Rocca finally sneaked past him.

Rocca reacts in true Italian style to his incredible putt on 18 to tie Daly

Rocca reacts in true Italian style to his incredible putt on 18 to tie Daly

Bottomley had holed a monster putt on the 9th to get the adrenalin pumping and suspected he was making waves when camera crews appeared alongside him on the 12th.

Crucially, he bogeyed the demanding Road Hole 17th, after failing to get up and down for par from the Road bunker, but a closing birdie made him the only player to break 70 in the final round.

Bottomley's drive on 18 yielded a birdie to set the clubhouse target

Bottomley's drive on 18 yielded a birdie to set the clubhouse target

His 3rd place finish won him comfortably the biggest cheque of his pro career at £65,667, an achievement made all the more remarkable by the fact that he had done little of any real note prior to that.. and little of note would follow that one stunning high.

In 1996 he did manage another tour top 10, but at the end of 1997 he lost his card to find himself back at Q School for a ninth time. That year would ultimately prove the last of his eight full seasons on tour.

If you thought Ben Curtis and Todd Hamilton were rank outsiders, their wins would surely have paled into insignificance compared to Steve Bottomley’s had he emerged victorious at St Andrews in July 1995 against all the odds… and then some!

John Daly was eventually the man to get his hands on the Claret Jug

John Daly was the man to eventually get his hands on the Claret Jug
Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and instruction. He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, a highly regarded trade publication for golf club secretaries and managers, and has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played well over 950 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, right across the spectrum from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

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Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

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Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

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