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The Open (British Open)

The Open Championship is golf's oldest and most prestigious championship. It is an event steeped in tradition and heritage and no golfer can consider himself to be truly great until he has won the Open. Even the Americans, who usually consider European golf second rate, subscribe to this view. It is one of two championships that is part of the old majors list as well as the modern one.



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Unlike some Majors, the Open is truly open. Professionals and amateurs are obliged to qualify by playing on courses near the host club in the days preceding the event. Part of the attraction of the Open must be that it perhaps golf in it's purest form. It is traditionally played on links courses which are invariably more demanding than the manicured parkland courses so common throughout the world. The golfer must overcome the weather and a natural topography to be victorious. The Open is indisputably special.

The idea of an open championship, to be played annually on alternate courses, was first proposed at Prestwick GC, Scotland in 1856. After failing to secure the support of the other clubs, Prestwick decided to proceed on it's own and organised the first Open in 1860. The original format was 36 holes played on a single day with the winner awarded the championship belt for a year and a purse of £10. The belt was to be awarded outright to whoever won the championship on three successive occasions.

When Young Tom Morris won his third consecutive Open in 1870, the championship committee were thrown into disarray to the extent that they cancelled the following year's event. In 1872, the new format was introduced with the event alternating between Prestwick, Musselburgh and St Andrews. The famous Claret Jug was offered up as prize but would remain the permanent property of the organisers. By this time, the Royal and Ancient golf club of St Andrews (www.randa.org) had become the de-facto governing body of golf and they too assumed control of the Open Championship Despite these changes Young Tom Morris still managed to win.

In 1892, the format was extended to it's present 72 holes over two days. The reason for this was the increased number of entrants which paralleled a general growth in golf's popularity. In 1894, it was first played in England with Englishman John Ball the victor. It has since been hosted throughout the UK including at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.

The Open did suffer somewhat when Americans came to dominate world golf after the turn of the 20th century. Back then, the Americans were obliged to make a trans-Atlantic voyage in order to compete. Coupled with this was the American perception that European golf had nothing to offer Americans. It was therefore sometimes difficult to assemble a field which comprised all the best golfers in the world. However, Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones and others competed and helped maintain the Open's global status.

The same problem occurred once again after the Second World War. The championship committee recognised that the prestige of winning the Open was not enough to attract the world's best golfers and therefore substantially increased the prize fund. However the rise of global travel facilitated by jet technology and the spread of TV must surely have played a part. In 1996, the prize fund was a highly respectable £1.4m with £200,000 awarded to the winner

Noteable Moments at the British Open
1860: The first British Open is staged by members of Prestwick Golf Club. Eight men participate in the three-round event, with Willie Park triumphing over Tom Morris.

1868: Young Tom Morris wins the British Open. He would go on to successfully defend in 1869 and 1870.

1872: The Royal and Ancient Golf Club (St. Andrews) and the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (Musselburgh) joins Prestwick in staging the British Open.

1873: The Claret Jug is introduced as the trophy, replacing the Challenge belt.

1892: The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers moves to Muirfield. The format also changed to 72 holes played over two days.

1894: Royal St. George's becomes the first non-Scottish club to host the British Open. J.H. Taylor won his first of five British Opens (1984, 1895, 1900, 1909, 1913).

1895: J.H. Taylor successfully defends his British Open title at St. Andrews by a four-stroke margin over Sandy Herd. He was the first Englishman to win on the Old Course.

1896: With Muirfield playing host, Harry Vardon wins his first of six British Open titles (1896, 1898, 1899, 1903, 1911, 1914).

1900: At St. Andrews, J.H. Taylor sets the low scoring record (309) en route to his third Claret Jug. Harry Vardon and James Braid finishes second and third. The trio became known as the "Great Triumvirate" and would dominate the British Open for years to come.

1901: James Braid captures his first of five British Open titles (1901, 1905, 1906, 1908, 1910), beating out Harry Vardon and J.H. Taylor.

1910: James Braid shatters the low scoring record with a 299 total, becoming the first player to win the British Open five times.

1912: Ted Ray becomes the first golfer to go wire-to-wire and win the British Open.

1913: J.H. Taylor joins fellow "Great Triumvirate" members James Braid and Harry Vardon as five-time champions at the British Open.

1914: Harry Vardon steps into the British Open record books with an unprecedented sixth victory at the event.

1915-1919: The British Open is not held due to World War I.

1921: Jock Hutchison becomes the first non-British player to win the British Open.

1922: At Sandwich, Walter Hagen earns his first of four Claret Jugs (also 1924, 1928 and 1929). Hagen also became the first American-born champion of the British Open.

1923: Royal Troon hosts its first British Open.

1925: Prestwick plays host to its final British Open.

1926: In a banner year for the tournament, Royal Lytham makes its debut in the British Open rotation. Play increased to three days, regional qualifying was introduced and admission was charged. American amateur golfer Bobby Jones earned the first of three British Open titles (1926, 1927, 1930).

1927: Bobby Jones conquers the Old Course at St. Andrews to capture his second Claret Jug.

1930: Bobby Jones wins the British Open for the third time. Jones also captured the U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur and British Amateur titles, a feat that was called the "Grand Slam."

1934: Britain's Henry Cotton earns his first of three British Open titles (1934, 1937 and 1948).

1940-1945: The British Open is not held due to World War II.

1946: The British Open resumes at St. Andrews. The United States' Sam Snead wins his only Claret Jug.

1948: At Muirfield, Henry Cotton earns his third Claret Jug.

1949: South Africa's Bobby Locke wins his first British Open title, outlasting Harry Bradshaw in a playoff. He would also win in 1950, 1952 and 1957.

1951: The British Open is played in Northern Ireland at Royal Portrush. Britain's Max Faulkner wins the Claret Jug.

1953: Ben Hogan participates in his first British Open, held at Carnoustie, and wins. He would not play the event again.

1954: Royal Birkdale debutes in the British Open rotation. Peter Thomson becomes the first Australian to win the Claret Jug.

1955: The British Open is broadcast by the BBC. Peter Thomson successfully defends his title at St. Andrews.

1956: Peter Thomson wins three British Open titles in a row. He is the only golfer in the modern era to achieve this distinction.

1957: Bobby Locke tops Peter Thomson at St. Andrews to win his fourth British Open title.

1959: At Carnoustie, South Africa's Gary Player earns his first of three British Open titles. He would go on to win in 1968 and 1974.

1961: Arnold Palmer of the United States wins his first British Open.

1962: Arnold Palmer successfully defends his British Open title, setting a British Open record at Royal Troon with his 276 total. Palmer helped draw more American golfers to participate in the event.

1963: Bob Charles of New Zealand becomes the first left-handed golfer to win the British Open.

1965: Australia's Peter Thomson wins his fifth British Open title.

1966: ABC is the first network to broadcast the British Open in the United States -- and Jack Nicklaus wins the first of his three Claret Jugs. The event's format changed to a four-day presentation, ending on Saturday.

1969: Tony Jacklin becomes the first British golfer since Max Faulkner in 1951 to earn the Claret Jug.

1970: Jack Nicklaus defeats Doug Sanders in the first 18-hole playoff at the British Open to win his second title. The playoff format was changed from 36 to 18 holes in 1964.

1974: Gary Player earns his third Claret Jug. Player was the last golfer whose British Open titles spanned three decades.

1977: Regional qualifying is added on a permanent basis. In one of the British Open's classic battles, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson duel at Turnberry for the Claret Jug. Watson tops his rival with a record-setting 268 total.

1979: Spain's Seve Ballesteros wins his first of three British Open titles (also 1984 and 1988).

1980: The British Open finishes on a Sunday for the first time.

1983: At Royal Birkdale, Tom Watson captures the British Open title, joining Peter Thomson, James Braid and J.H. Taylor as the only five-time champions of the event.

1985: A four-hole playoff format is introduced. If the playoff goes beyond four holes, a sudden-death format is to be implemented. Sandy Lyle becomes the first British golfer since Tony Jacklin to win the event.

1986: Australia's Greg Norman earns his first British Open crown, equaling the lowest-round record with a second-round 63.

1987: England's Nick Faldo captures his first British Open title. Faldo would go on to win the British Open in 1990 and 1992.

1989: In the first three-man, four-hole playoff in British Open history, Mark Calcaveccia defeats Wayne Grady and Greg Norman to win the Claret Jug.

1993: Greg Norman sets the British Open scoring record with a 267 total for his second win at the event.

1997: At Royal Troon, Justin Leonard earns his first British Open title.

1999: Paul Lawrie becomes the first Scottish golfer since 1985 to win the British Open, outlasting Jean Van de Velde and Justin Leonard in a playoff.

2000: Tiger Woods cruises to his first British Open win with an eight-stroke margin, the largest winning margin in 87 years.

2001: David Duval wins his first major by claiming the Claret Jug at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

2002: The British Open ends in a four-way tie for the first time. Ernie Els outlasts Thomas Levet, Stuart Appleby and Steve Elkington for his first Claret Jug.

2003: Ben Curtis becomes the first player since Francis Ouimet in 1913 to win a major in his first try. Curtis closes with a 69 at Royal St. George's to finish a stroke ahead of Vijay Singh and Thomas Bjorn.

2004: Todd Hamilton edges Ernie Els in a four-hole playoff to win the Claret Jug at Royal Troon. Hamilton, a 38-year-old PGA TOUR rookie, pars all four playoff holes. Els bogeys the third hole (No. 17) and is denied his second Open title.

2005: Tiger Woods posts a wire-to-wire victory to capture his second career Claret Jug. Woods claimed the outright lead on No. 9 during the first round and never surrendered it at any point. During the final round, Woods birdies No. 16 to take a six stroke lead. He ends up winning by five strokes over Colin Montgomerie.

The Open 's Champions
2005 - Tiger Woods
2004 - Todd Hamilton
2003 - Ben Curtis
2002 - Ernie Els
2001 - David Duval
2000 - Tiger Woods
1999 - Paul Lawrie
1998 - Mark O'Meara
1997 - Justin Leonard
1996 - Tom Lehman
1995 - John Daly
1994 - Nick Price
1993 - Greg Norman
1992 - Nick Faldo
1991 - Ian Baker-Finch
1990 - Nick Faldo
1989 - Mark Calcavecchia
1988 - Seve Ballesteros
1987 - Nick Faldo
1986 - Greg Norman
1985 - Sandy Lyle
1984 - Seve Ballesteros
1983 - Tom Watson
1982 - Tom Watson
1981 - Bill Rogers
1980 - Tom Watson
1979 - Seve Ballesteros
1978 - Jack Nicklaus
1977 - Tom Watson
1976 - Johnny Miller
1975 - Tom Watson
1974 - Gary Player
1973 - Tom Weiskopf
1972 - Lee Trevino
1971 - Lee Trevino
1970 - Jack Nicklaus
1969 - Tony Jacklin
1968 - Gary Player
1967 - Roberto de Vicenzo
1966 - Jack Nicklaus
1965 - Peter Thomson
1964 - Tony Lema
1963 - Bob Charles
1962 - Arnold Palmer
1961 - Arnold Palmer
1960 - Kel Nagle
1959 - Gary Player
1958 - Peter Thomson
1957 - Bobby Locke
1956 - Peter Thomson
1955 - Peter Thomson
1954 - Peter Thomson
1953 - Ben Hogan
1952 - Bobby Locke
1951 - Max Faulkner
1950 - Bobby Locke
1949 - Bobby Locke
1948 - Henry Cotton
1947 - Fred Daly
1946 - Sam Snead
1940-45 - Not played
1939 - Richard Burton
1938 - R.A. Whitcombe
1937 - Henry Cotton
1936 - Alfred Padgham
1935 - Alfred Perry
1934 - Henry Cotton
1933 - Denny Shute
1932 - Gene Sarazen
1931 - Tommy Armour
1930 - Robert Jones Jr.
1929 - Walter Hagen
1928 - Walter Hagen
1927 - Robert Jones Jr.
1926 - Robert Jones Jr.
1925 - James Barnes
1924 - Walter Hagen
1923 - Arthur Havers
1922 - Walter Hagen
1921 - Jock Hutchison
1920 - George Duncan
1915-19 - Not played
1914 - Harry Vardon
1913 - J.H. Taylor
1912 - Edward Ray
1911 - Harry Vardon
1910 - James Braid
1909 - J.H. Taylor
1908 - James Braid
1907 - Arnaud Massy
1906 - James Braid
1905 - James Braid
1904 - Jack White
1903 - Harry Vardon
1902 - Alexander Herd
1901 - James Braid
1900 - J.H. Taylor
1899 - Harry Vardon
1898 - Harry Vardon
1897 - Harold Hilton
1896 - Harry Vardon
1895 - J.H. Taylor
1894 - J.H. Taylor
1893 - William Auchterlonie
1892 - Harold Hilton
1891 - Hugh Kirkaldy
1890 - John Ball
1889 - Willie Park Jr.
1888 - Jack Burns
1887 - Willie Park Jr.
1886 - David Brown
1885 - Bob Martin
1884 - Jack Simpson
1883 - Willie Fernie
1882 - Robert Ferguson
1881 - Robert Ferguson
1880 - Robert Ferguson
1879 - Jamie Anderson
1878 - Jamie Anderson
1877 - Jamie Anderson
1876 - Robert Martin
1875 - Willie Park
1874 - Mungo Park
1873 - Tom Kidd
1872 - Tom Morris Jr.
1871 - Not played
1870 - Tom Morris Jr.
1869 - Tom Morris Jr.
1868 - Tom Morris Jr.
1867 - Tom Morris Sr.
1866 - Willie Park
1865 - Andrew Strath
1864 - Tom Morris Sr.
1863 - Willie Park
1862 - Tom Morris Sr.
1861 - Tom Morris Sr.
1860 - Willie Park

Most Wins
• 6 - Harry Vardon, 1896, '98, '99, 1903, '11, '14
• 5 - James Braid, 1901, '05, '06, '08, '10; J.H. Taylor, 1894, '95, 1900, '09, '13; Peter Thomson, 1954, '55, '56, '58, '65; Tom Watson, 1975, '77, '80, '82, '83

Youngest Winner
Tom Morris Jr., 1868, 17 years 5 months 8 days

Oldest Winner
Tom Morris Sr., 1867, 46 years 99 days


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