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Arnold Palmer is why Americans care at all about the British Open

Low prize money and no exemptions? No problem when you want Grand Slam glory.

Forty-seven Americans will be competing for the 2019 Open Championship, including seven former U.S. winners of the event. That’s about a third of the total field and slightly less than the entirety of the European representation. But the Open didn’t always have that kind of U.S. presence.

Take the 1960 edition at St. Andrews. Only four Americans made the field after mandatory qualifying, and only two of them made the cut. One of those two men was Arnold Palmer, who’d already won the Masters and the U.S. Open that year and was attempting to match Ben Hogan’s three-for-three from the 1953 season. Palmer lost by one stroke, but the mere fact that he showed up at all helped bring American golfers back to the event in years to come.

But … what if Arnie hadn’t made the trip? Would another tournament have taken the Open’s place in the rotation? What would the Open look like today? And where would John Daly’s second major have come from instead?