Aus Open Moment #1: The Shark withstands a walk-off

AS we gear up for the 2016 Australian Open, we look back three decades ago to one of the most controversial battles for the Stonehaven Cup.

GENESIS is the Official Vehicle Partner of the 2016 Emirates Australian Open and to celebrate this partnership the Genesis Golf Link Cup is turning the clock back to relive some of the greatest moments in Stonehaven Cup history.

1987 - the shark withstands a walk-off 

This week, we look back to 1987, where the famed Royal Melbourne composite course played host to the Australian Open and an international field gathered to contest the event.

Among the world-class names were 1985 Open champion Sandy Lyle, World Number One Greg Norman and Lyle’s fellow Scot, Gordon Brand Jr.

At the time Norman was just the third player to achieve the World Number One mantle after the rankings were introduced the previous year and there was excitement in the air with expectations of a shootout between he and Lyle, considered by many to be the best ball striker of his generation.

After opening with a routine two-under 70, The Great White Shark caught fire in the second and third rounds with back-to-back 66s to take control of the tournament.

With Lyle faltering to a second round score of 75, the trophy was Norman’s for the taking and the final round looked a mere formality, a coronation for the Queenslander – but instead, that Sunday became one of the most controversial in tournament history.

The greens that week were running hard and fast, and by early Sunday there were murmurings that the third green, in particular, might be problematic.

By the time the final groups reached the hole it had become all but unplayable, gale force winds making it almost impossible to hole out. Several players took upwards of five putts and the anger of those on the course was palpable.

Eventually, Lyle and Norman led a walk off by the players, refusing to continue the round in the prevailing conditions.

Shocked, the Australian Golf Union held an emergency meeting and declared all Sunday’s scores null with players to return the following day to complete the event.

A vote among the players agreed to that course of action and Norman went on to win the third, but most controversial, of his five Open trophies, by 10 shots the following day.

This article originally appeared on genesisgolflinkcup.com.au.

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