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Ian Baker-Finch
Personal information
Full name Ian Michael Baker-Finch
Nickname Finchy, The Dark Shark
Born 24 October 1960 (1960-10-24) (age 49)
Nambour, Queensland
Height 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)
Nationality  Australia
Career
Turned professional 1979
Former tour(s) PGA Tour
European Tour
PGA Tour of Australasia
Professional wins 17
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour 2
European Tour 2
Japan Golf Tour 3
PGA Tour of Australasia 11
Best results in Major Championships
(Wins: 1)
The Masters T6: 1992
U.S. Open T13: 1992
Open Championship Won: 1991
PGA Championship T34: 1989

Ian Michael Baker-Finch (born 24 October 1960) is an Australian professional golfer who is best known for winning The Open Championship in 1991.

Born in Nambour, Australia. Baker-Finch turned professional in 1979. Baker-Finch credits Jack Nicklaus as his greatest influence, saying that he based his game on Nicklaus' book, Golf My Way. He began his professional career on the PGA Tour of Australasia, winning his first professional tournament, the New Zealand Open, in 1983. That victory earned him an entry to the British Open in 1984. He would make headlines by taking the 36-hole lead, holding onto the lead after three rounds but then shooting a disastrous last round 79 to finish ninth, much in the manner of Bobby Clampett who had endured a similar collapse two years previously.

Baker-Finch joined the European Tour, winning the 1985 Scandinavian Enterprise Open and finishing in the top twenty on the order of merit in both 1985 and 1986. At the same time he continued to play in Australasia in the Northern Hemisphere winter, picking up several further tournament titles there and occasionally played on the Japan Golf Tour.

Baker-Finch first played on the PGA Tour as an invitee in 1985 and began to do so regularly in 1989, having qualified for tour membership by finishing third in the 1988 World Series of Golf. He won his first PGA Tour title at the 1989 Southwestern Bell Colonial, giving him a two-year exemption on Tour. In 1990, he finished 16th on the PGA Tour money list, on the strength of 3 runner-up finishes and 2 third-places.

Despite his steady career, with wins on four continents, including Asia, Baker-Finch was not generally counted as a member of the elite group of international golfers and when he won his major championship at the 1991 British Open, closing with a 64-66 to beat Mike Harwood by two strokes, he was considered a surprise champion. He had three other runner-up finishes that year as well and again qualified for the Tour Championship with a 13th place finish on the money list. He ranked briefly in the top-10 of the Official World Golf Rankings that year.[1]

Baker-Finch's British Open victory might have proved the catalyst for him to move to a higher level and start to regularly challenge for prestigious titles, but this was not to be the case. He had a 10-year exemption from the PGA Tour from the British Open win, leaving him exempt until 2001. He did achieve a runner-up finish in the Players Championship in 1992, but never came close to contending on the PGA Tour again. He picked up one relatively minor win outside the U.S in each of 1992 and 1993, but his form then went into a steep and accelerating decline. He started to lose confidence in his game, and tinkered with his swing often. His last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour was a tie for 10th in the 1994 Masters Tournament.

Baker-Finch then famously suffered a complete collapse of his game.[2] The problems were often psychological: He would hit shots flawlessly on the practice range, and then go to the first tee and hit a weak drive into the wrong fairway. In the 1995 Open Championship at St Andrews, he notoriously hooked his first round tee-shot at the first out-of-bounds on the left side of the fairway shared with the 18th, with attention focused on him as his playing partner was Arnold Palmer, competing in his final Open. In 1995 and 1996 he missed the cut, withdrew after one round, or was disqualified in all twenty nine PGA Tour events that he entered. After shooting a 92 in the first round of the 1997 British Open, an extraordinarily bad score by tournament professional standards, he withdrew from the championship and retired from tournament golf.

Baker-Finch was hired by ABC Sports to commentate on golf tournaments in 1998, and did so until 2006, when he was hired by CBS Sports. On broadcasts he is often known by the nickname "Finchy". The only PGA Tour events he has played since the 1997 Open Championship was the 2001 MasterCard Colonial, where he missed the cut with rounds of 74 and 77, and the same tournament, now named Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial in 2009, again missing the cut with rounds of 68 and 78.

In 2003, 2005 and 2007 Baker-Finch served as Gary Player's captain's assistant for the International team in the Presidents Cup. In January 2008 he joined the Gary Player Group as an international brand ambassador and golf course designer. He plans to compete on the Champions Tour after he turns 50 in 2010.

Contents

Professional wins (17)

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PGA Tour wins (2)

Major championship is shown in bold.

European Tour wins (2)

Major championship is shown in bold.

PGA Tour of Australasia wins (11)

Japan Golf Tour wins (3)

Major championships

Wins (1)

Year Championship 54 Holes Winning Score Margin Runner-up
1991 The Open Championship Tied for lead -8 (71-71-64-66=272) 2 strokes Australia Mike Harwood

Results timeline

Tournament 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
The Masters DNP CUT DNP DNP DNP DNP
U.S. Open DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
The Open Championship T9 T20 CUT CUT CUT T30
PGA Championship DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T34
Tournament 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997
The Masters CUT T7 T6 T54 T10 CUT CUT DNP
U.S. Open DNP T44 T13 T19 CUT CUT CUT DNP
The Open Championship T6 1 T19 T70 CUT CUT CUT WD
PGA Championship T57 CUT T69 66 CUT CUT DNP DNP

DNP = Did not play
WD = Withdrew
CUT = missed the half-way cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10

Trivia

Reporting for CBS at the 2007 The Barclays tournament, Baker-Finch was one of the thousands gathered around the 18th green as Rich Beem hit his approach shot. The shot hit straight on Baker-Finch's cheek and knocked him out, falling on his back behind the green. Baker-Finch recovered before Beem got to his ball.[3]

See also

References

External links


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