Ian Baker-Finch

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Ian Baker-Finch
Personal information
Full nameIan Michael Baker-Finch
NicknameFinchy, The Dark Shark, IBF
Born (1960-10-24) 24 October 1960 (age 63)
Nambour, Australia
Height193 cm (6 ft 4 in)[1]
Sporting nationality Australia
ResidenceNorth Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.
Turned professional1979
Former tour(s)PGA Tour
European Tour
Japan Golf Tour
PGA Tour of Australasia
Professional wins17
Highest ranking10 (29 September 1991)[2]
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour2
European Tour2
Japan Golf Tour3
PGA Tour of Australasia10
Best results in major championships
(wins: 1)
Masters TournamentT6: 1992
PGA ChampionshipT34: 1989
U.S. OpenT13: 1992
The Open ChampionshipWon: 1991

Ian Michael Baker-Finch (born 24 October 1960) is an Australian golfer and sports commentator best known for winning The Open Championship in 1991.[3]

Early life[edit]

Baker-Finch was born in Nambour, Queensland, Australia. He grew up in the same Queensland neighborhood as fellow golfers Greg Norman and Wayne Grady.[4]

Professional career[edit]


Baker-Finch turned professional in 1979.[5] He credits Jack Nicklaus as his greatest influence, saying that he based his game on Nicklaus' book, Golf My Way.

Baker-Finch began his professional career on the PGA Tour of Australasia, winning his first professional tournament, the New Zealand Open, in 1983.[5] That victory earned him an entry to The Open Championship 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-20 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, gaining him a two-year exemption on Tour. In 1990, he finished 16th on the PGA Tour money list, on the strength of three runner-up finishes and two 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. When he won the 1991 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, closing with a 64-66[5] 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 Ranking that year.[6]

Baker-Finch had a 10-year exemption from the PGA Tour for his Open Championship win, leaving him exempt until 2001. He achieved a runner-up finish in The Players Championship in 1992, but otherwise never came close to contending on the PGA Tour again. He picked up wins in Australia in 1992 and 1993 but his form then went into a steep and accelerating decline. He began 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.[7] 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 29 PGA Tour events that he entered.

Baker-Finch later said: "I lost my confidence. I got to the point where I didn't even want to be out on the golf course because I was playing so poorly. I would try my hardest but when I came out to play, I managed to find a way to miss the cut time and time again. It became a habit."[8]

After shooting a 92 in the first round of the 1997 Open at Royal Troon, an extraordinarily bad score by tournament professional standards, Baker-Finch admitted that he cried in the locker room that afternoon. He withdrew from the championship after one round and retired from tournament golf.[8]

In 2003, 2005 and 2007, Baker-Finch served as Gary Player's captain's assistant for the International team in the Presidents Cup.


After his game deserted him, Baker-Finch turned his interests to careers in broadcasting and golf course design and management.[5] He was hired by ESPN and ABC Sports to comment on golf tournaments in 1998, and did so until 2006. During this time, Baker-Finch served as the lead analyst for ESPN and as a hole announcer for ABC, though on many occasions he filled in as ABC's lead analyst. In 2007, he was hired by CBS Sports as a hole announcer, a position he still holds today.[9]

Reporting for CBS at the 2007 Barclays tournament, Baker-Finch was one of the thousands gathered around the 18th green as Rich Beem hit his approach shot. The errant shot hit straight on Baker-Finch's cheek and knocked him down, causing him to fall on his back behind the green. Baker-Finch recovered before Beem got to his ball.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Baker-Finch and his wife, Jennie, have two daughters Hayley and Laura; they live in North Palm Beach, Florida.[9]

Awards and honours[edit]

On 22 June 2000, Baker-Finch was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for his golfing achievements.[11]

In 2009, Baker-Finch was inducted into the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame.[12]

Professional wins (17)[edit]

PGA Tour wins (2)[edit]

Major championships (1)
Other PGA Tour (1)
No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of
1 21 May 1989 Southwestern Bell Colonial −10 (65-70-65-70=270) 4 strokes United States David Edwards
2 21 Jul 1991 The Open Championship −8 (71-71-64-66=272) 2 strokes Australia Mike Harwood

PGA Tour playoff record (0–1)

No. Year Tournament Opponent Result
1 1991 New England Classic United States Bruce Fleisher Lost to birdie on seventh extra hole

European Tour wins (2)[edit]

Major championships (1)
Other European Tour (1)
No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of
1 4 Aug 1985 Scandinavian Enterprise Open −14 (68-72-68-66=274) 2 strokes Australia Graham Marsh
2 21 Jul 1991 The Open Championship −8 (71-71-64-66=272) 2 strokes Australia Mike Harwood

European Tour playoff record (0–1)

No. Year Tournament Opponents Result
1 1986 Bell's Scottish Open Northern Ireland David Feherty, Republic of Ireland Christy O'Connor Jnr Feherty won with birdie on second extra hole

PGA of Japan Tour wins (3)[edit]

No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of
1 18 Oct 1987 Polaroid Cup Golf Digest Tournament −9 (74-67-68-66=275) 4 strokes Japan Kazushige Kono
2 10 Apr 1988 Pocari Sweat Open −7 (73-68-66-70=277) 2 strokes Australia Graham Marsh
3 17 Apr 1988 Bridgestone Aso Open −6 (75-73-68-66=282) 1 stroke Japan Tadami Ueno

PGA Tour of Australasia wins (10)[edit]

No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of
1 27 Nov 1983 New Zealand Open E (71-66-72-71=280) 3 strokes New Zealand Stuart Reese
2 13 May 1984 Town and Country WA-RAC Western Australian Open −16 (70-67-67-68=272) 4 strokes Australia Terry Gale
3 21 Oct 1984 National Panasonic New South Wales Open −15 (69-70-68-70=277) 13 strokes Australia Peter Senior
4 16 Dec 1984 Coca-Cola Queensland PGA Championship −3 (69-74-70-72=285) 1 stroke Australia Ossie Moore
5 10 Feb 1985 Victorian Open −9 (73-65-72-69=279) 2 strokes Australia Rodger Davis
6 8 Feb 1987 Robert Boyd Transport Australian Match Play Championship 5 and 4 Australia Ossie Moore
7 21 Feb 1988 Australian Masters −9 (69-70-71-73=283) Playoff Australia Roger Mackay, Australia Craig Parry
8 16 Dec 1990 Coolum Classic[a] −17 (66-67-67-71=271) 5 strokes England Stephen Bennett, Australia Rodger Davis
9 26 Jan 1992 Vines Classic −12 (71-67-66-72=276) 1 stroke United States Jeff Maggert, New Zealand Frank Nobilo
10 22 Nov 1993 Ford Australian PGA Championship −9 (69-69-73-64=275) Playoff Australia Peter Fowler, New Zealand Grant Waite

PGA Tour of Australasia playoff record (2–1)

No. Year Tournament Opponent(s) Result
1 1984 Victorian PGA Championship Australia Wayne Riley Lost to birdie on second extra hole
2 1988 Australian Masters Australia Roger Mackay, Australia Craig Parry Won with birdie on first extra hole
3 1993 Ford Australian PGA Championship Australia Peter Fowler, New Zealand Grant Waite Won with birdie on second extra hole

Senior wins (1)[edit]

Major championships[edit]

Wins (1)[edit]

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[edit]

Tournament 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997
Masters Tournament CUT CUT T7 T6 T54 T10 CUT CUT
U.S. Open T44 T13 T19 CUT CUT CUT
The Open Championship T9 T20 CUT CUT CUT T30 T6 1 T19 T70 CUT CUT CUT WD
PGA Championship T34 T57 CUT T69 66 CUT CUT
  Top 10
  Did not play

CUT = missed the half way cut
WD = Withdrew
"T" indicates a tie for a place.


Tournament Wins 2nd 3rd Top-5 Top-10 Top-25 Events Cuts made
Masters Tournament 0 0 0 0 3 3 8 4
U.S. Open 0 0 0 0 0 2 6 3
The Open Championship 1 0 0 1 3 5 14 7
PGA Championship 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 4
Totals 1 0 0 1 6 10 35 18
  • Most consecutive cuts made – 9 (1992 Masters – 1994 Masters)
  • Longest streak of top-10s – 1 (six times)

Results in The Players Championship[edit]

Tournament 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996
The Players Championship CUT T46 T41 T2 T39 T69 WD CUT
  Top 10

CUT = missed the halfway cut
WD = withdrew
"T" indicates a tie for a place

Team appearances[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ incorporating the Queensland Open.


  1. ^ "Australia Golf Player Profiles". pga.org.au. The Professional Golfers Association of Australia. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  2. ^ "Week 39 1991 Ending 29 Sep 1991" (pdf). OWGR. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  3. ^ Viacom CBS Press Express
  4. ^ "Media Guide". PGA Tour. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d "Ian Baker-Finch bio". Golf Legends. Archived from the original on 26 November 2010. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
  6. ^ "69 Players Who Have Reached The Top-10 in World Ranking". Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  7. ^ McDaniel, Peter (January 2005). "Moment in the Sun". Golf Digest. Archived from the original on 2 June 2009. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Baker-Finch can sympathise with Duval". Golftoday.co.uk. 25 January 2010. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  9. ^ a b "Ian Baker-Finch bio from his official site". Archived from the original on 22 January 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
  10. ^ "Baker-Finch hit in face by Beem's stray shot". Golf.com. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 4 December 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  11. ^ "Ian Baker-Finch". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  12. ^ "Mr Ian Baker-Finch". qsport.org.au. Queensland Sport Hall of Fame. Retrieved 19 January 2014.

External links[edit]