The historic sport of golf has been traced back to the 15th century, when records show a sport resembling golf was already being played at St Andrew’s in Scotland. It wasn’t until the 18th century, however, that the first set of modern rules was drawn up, when the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers produced a list of 13 rules that were the forerunners of those still used in the game today.
Over the years, Great Britain has produced some world-beating golfers who have triumphed on the international circuit.
1. Nick Faldo
Nick Faldo secured the number one slot on the official World Golf Rankings for an astounding 98 weeks, winning three US Masters and three Open Championships. He took up the sport in the early ’70s and quickly achieved success in the British Youths Championship and the English Amateur Championship in 1975. He has also won the British Masters, French Open, Spanish Open, Irish Open, the PGA and the European Open. He lists his favourite course as Muirfield in East Lothian, where he won two consecutive Opens.
2. Colin Montgomerie
Scottish golfer, Colin “Monty” Montgomerie won the Scottish Youths Championship in 1983 as an amateur, before turning professional in 1988. After winning the Portuguese Open in 1989, he went on to win more European titles than any other British Golfer, winning a record seven Order of Merit titles between 1993 and ’99 on the tour. In 2000, he won the Volvo PGA Championship for the third time and received the OBE for sporting achievement in 2004. He names Royal Birkdale as being among his favourite courses, having played the Open there.
3. Lee Westwood
Winning his first amateur tournament, the Pete McEvoy Trophy, at the age of just 17, Lee Westwood turned professional in 1993. Winning the Volvo Scandinavian Masters four years later, he ranked fourth in the World Golf Rankings in 2000. He has won many high-profile competitions including the Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo Masters in 1996, ’97 and ’98; the Freeport McDermott Classic in 1998; and the 2000 Cisco World Match Play Championship. With 18 tournaments in European Tour events, he achieved the European Tour Order of Merit in 2000 – this ended Montgomerie’s seven-year run. In the same year that Tiger Woods won by a record-breaking 15 shots, Westwood achieved his best US Open finish at Pebble Beach – his favourite course – in 2000, when he finished fifth.
4. Sandy Lyle
Introduced to the game when he was only three years old, Sandy Lyle won many amateur competitions in England and Scotland before joining the professional circuit in 1977. He has enjoyed 27 professional wins including the Open in 1985 and he became the first British player to win the Masters in 1988. He was part of Europe’s winning Ryder Cup team in 1985 and became known for his natural talent and cool temperament. Lyle has fond memories of winning the Masters at Augusta, when his miraculous shot from the sand – described by the media as one of the greatest moments of the championship – set him up for victory.
5. Ian Woosnam
Ian Woosnam turned professional in the 1970s after playing amateur golf in Powys, Wales, for several years. He won his first major, the European Tour’s Swiss Open, in 1982 and went on to top the prize-money list in 1987, winning eight tournaments. He won the 1988 British PGA championship and three years later achieved the number one spot in the World Golf Rankings. Later that year, he won the US Masters. In 2006, he achieved the prestige of being asked to captain the European Team in the Ryder Cup. Among his favourite courses is Llanymynech Golf Club, where he learned to play as a child. The unique course spans over England and Wales, so players can tee off in Wales on the fourth tee but play the 5th and 6th holes in England, before re-entering Wales on the 7th tee!
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