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Kiwi collapse

ESPN staff
March 10, 2015
Jack Nicklaus pipped Simon Owen to the Claret Jug in 1978 © Getty Images

I remember a golfer - possibly from New Zealand - almost winning the British Open some time during the 1970s, but he got caught by Jack Nicklaus. Who was it? asked Humphrey Allingham

I think the man you have in mind is Simon Owen, who was born in Wanganui in New Zealand in 1950. Owen won two events on the European Tour in the 1970s before, in 1978, heading the field at St Andrews deep into the final round of the Open Championship.

Owen was in front as he stood on the tee at the 16th, but he bogeyed that, and dropped another shot at the 17th - the famous Road Hole. Jack Nicklaus birdied both, and went on to win the claret jug for the third and last time.

The deflated Owen slipped back to joint second, alongside Ben Crenshaw, Ray Floyd and Tom Kite. Later that year Owen reached the final of the World Matchplay at Wentworth, but lost to Isao Aoki. He never quite scaled such heights again, although he did win a couple of events on the Seniors Tour in Europe.

His near-miss meant Bob Charles (1963) remains the only New Zealander to win the British Open. The only other New Zealander to win any men's major is Michael Campbell, who won the US Open in 2005. So far none of the women's majors has been won by a New Zealander … but you wouldn't want to bet against Lydia Ko - already ranked No. 1 in the world aged 17 - changing that state of affairs soon.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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