The Open Championship
|Course(s)||2013: Muirfield, Gullane, East Lothian, Scotland|
|Par||71 in 2013|
|Length||7,245 yards (6,625 m) in 2013|
Japan Golf Tour
|Prize fund||£5.0 million|
|Tournament record score|
|Aggregate||267 Greg Norman (1993)|
|To par||–19 Tiger Woods (2000)|
|Ernie Els (2012)|
|2012 Open Championship|
The Open Championship, or simply The Open (often referred to as the British Open), is the oldest of the four major championships in professional golf. It is the only major held outside the United States and is administered by the R&A, which is the governing body of golf outside of the U.S. and Mexico.
Since 1979, The Open has been played on the weekend of the third Friday in July. It is the third major of the calendar year, following The Masters and the U.S. Open, and preceding the PGA Championship. The current champion is Ernie Els who won in 2012 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club in Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire. The Open moved to a Sunday finish in 1980; it had a scheduled Saturday finish from 1966 through 1979, with the first round on Wednesday. Prior to 1966, the final two rounds were scheduled for Friday. Before 1926, the four rounds were played in two days.
In 2012, The Open had a first prize of £900,000 (about $1.4 million) and a total prize fund of about £5 million (about $7.8 million). The other three Major Championships in 2012 had first prizes of about $1.44 million and prize money of about $8 million, so that all four majors had almost identical prize money. Prize money is given to all professionals who make the cut and, since the number of professionals making the cut changes from year to year, the total prize money varies somewhat from the advertised number (currently £5 million).
The Open is a 72-hole stroke play tournament with a cut after 36 holes, limited to the top 70 players and ties. Unique among the four major championships, The Open features a four-hole playoff at the end of regulation, and continues into sudden-death if tied after four holes. Introduced in 1986, this format was first used in 1989; earlier playoffs were 36 holes until 1964, then 18 holes until 1986. The PGA Championship adopted a three-hole playoff, first used in 2000, after using sudden-death since 1977. (The Masters changed to sudden-death in the 1970s and the U.S. Open retains an 18-hole playoff.)
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (October 2011)|
The Open Championship was first played on 17 October 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland. The inaugural tournament was restricted to professionals and attracted a field of eight golfers who played three rounds of Prestwick's twelve-hole course in a single day. Willie Park, Sr. won with a score of 174, beating the favourite Old Tom Morris, by two strokes. The following year the tournament was opened to amateurs; eight of them joined ten professionals in the field.
Originally, the trophy presented to the event's winner was the Challenge Belt, a red leather belt with a silver buckle. There was no prize money in the first three Opens. In 1863, a prize fund of £10 was introduced, which was shared between the second- third- and fourth-placed professionals, with the Champion still just getting to keep the belt for a year. In 1864 Old Tom Morris won the first Champion's cash prize of £6. By 2004, the winner's cheque had increased one hundred and twenty thousandfold to £720,000, or perhaps two thousandfold after allowing for inflation. The Challenge Belt was retired in 1870, when Young Tom Morris was allowed to keep it for winning the tournament three consecutive times. Because no prize was available, the tournament was cancelled in 1871. In 1872, after Young Tom Morris won again for a still-unmatched fourth time in a row, he was awarded a medal. The present trophy, The Golf Champion Trophy, better known by its popular name of the Claret Jug, was then created.
Prestwick administered The Open from 1860 to 1870. In 1871, it agreed to organise it jointly with The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. In 1892 the event was doubled in length from 36 to 72 holes, four rounds of what was by then the standard complement of 18 holes. In the same year the prize fund reached £100. The 1894 Open was the first one held outside Scotland, at the Royal St George's Golf Club in England. Because of an increasing number of entrants, a cut was introduced after two rounds in 1898. In 1920 full responsibility for The Open Championship was handed over to The Royal & Ancient Golf Club.
The early winners were all Scottish professionals, who in those days worked as greenkeepers, clubmakers, and caddies to supplement their modest winnings from championships and challenge matches. The Open has always been dominated by professionals, with only six victories by amateurs, all of which occurred between 1890 and 1930. The last of these was Bobby Jones's third Open and part of his celebrated Grand Slam. Jones was one of six Americans who won The Open between the First and Second World Wars, the first of whom had been Walter Hagen in 1922. These Americans and the French winner of the 1907 Open, Arnaud Massy, were the only winners from outside Scotland and England up to 1939.
The first post-World War II winner was the American Sam Snead, in 1946. In 1947, Northern Ireland's Fred Daly was victorious. While there have been many English and Scottish champions, Daly was the only winner from Ireland until the 2007 victory by Pádraig Harrington. There has never been a Welsh champion. In the early postwar years The Open was dominated by golfers from the Commonwealth, with South African Bobby Locke and Australian Peter Thomson winning the Claret Jug in eight of the 11 championships from 1948 and 1958 between them. During this period, The Open often had a schedule conflict with the match-play PGA Championship, which meant that Ben Hogan, the best American golfer at this time, competed in The Open just once, in 1953 at Carnoustie, a tournament he won.
Another South African, Gary Player was Champion in 1959. This was at the beginning of the "Big Three" era in professional golf, the three players in question being Player, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Palmer first competed in 1960, when he came second to the little-known Australian Kel Nagle, but he won the two following years. While he was far from being the first American to become Open Champion, he was the first that many Americans saw win the tournament on television, and his charismatic success is often credited with persuading leading American golfers to make The Open an integral part of their schedule, rather than an optional extra. The improvement of trans-Atlantic travel also increased American participation.
Nicklaus' victories came in 1966, 1970 and 1978. Although his tally of three wins is not very remarkable, and indeed he won all of the other three majors more often, it greatly understates how prominent Nicklaus was at the tournament throughout the 1960s and 1970s. He finished runner-up seven times, which is the record. He had a total of sixteen top-5 finishes, which is tied most in Open history with John Henry Taylor and easily the most in the postwar era. Nicklaus also holds the records for most rounds under par (61) and most aggregates under par (14). At Turnberry in 1977 he was involved in one of the most celebrated contests in golf history, when his duel with Tom Watson went to the final shot before Watson emerged as the champion for the second time with a record score of 268 (12 under par).
Watson won five Opens, more than anyone else has since the 1950s, but his final win in 1983 brought down the curtain on an era of U.S. domination. In the next 11 years there was only one American winner, with the others coming from Europe and the Commonwealth. The European winners of this era, Spaniard Seve Ballesteros, Sandy Lyle, who was the first Scottish winner in over half a century, and the Englishman Nick Faldo, were also leading lights among the group of players who began to get the better of the Americans in the Ryder Cup during this period.
In 1995, The Open became part of the PGA Tour's official schedule. John Daly's playoff win over Italian Costantino Rocca began another era of American domination. Tiger Woods has won three Championships to date, two at St Andrews in 2000 and 2005, and one at Hoylake in 2006. There was a dramatic moment at St Andrews in 2000, as the ageing Jack Nicklaus waved farewell to the crowds, while the young challenger to his crown watched from a nearby tee. Nicklaus later decided to play in The Open for one final time in 2005, when the R&A announced St Andrews as the venue, giving his final farewell to the fans at the Home of Golf.
In 2002, all Open wins before 1995 were retroactively classified as PGA Tour wins. Recent years have been notable for the number of wins by previously obscure golfers, including Paul Lawrie's playoff win after the epic 72nd-hole collapse of Jean van de Velde in 1999, Ben Curtis in 2003 and Todd Hamilton in 2004. All three missed the cut when defending the title the following year, as did Mark Calcavecchia in 1990 and Mark O'Meara in 1999.
In 2007, the Europeans finally broke an eight-year drought in the majors when Pádraig Harrington of the Republic of Ireland defeated Sergio García by one stroke in a four-hole playoff at Carnoustie. In 2008 at Royal Birkdale, Harrington retained the Claret Jug with a final round of 69 to win the tournament by four shots from Ian Poulter, with a total of 283 (+3) after 72 holes.
In 2009, 59-year-old Tom Watson turned in one of the most remarkable performances ever seen at The Open. Leading the tournament through 71 holes and needing just a par on the last hole to become the oldest ever winner of a major championship, Watson bogeyed, setting up a four-hole playoff, which he would lose to Stewart Cink. In 2010, Rory McIlroy set a new record for the best opening round of an Open Championship, shooting a 9-under-par 63 at St Andrews, tying the lowest individual round at the tournament. To date, eight different players hold the record for shooting a 63 at The Open, including Greg Norman at Turnberry in 1986 and Nick Faldo at Royal St George's in 1993.
There are several medals and trophies that are, or have been, given out for various achievements during The Open Championship.
- Challenge Belt – awarded to the winner from 1860 until 1870 when Young Tom Morris won the belt outright.
- The Golf Champion Trophy (commonly known as the Claret Jug) – replaced the Challenge Belt and has been awarded to the winner since 1873.
- Gold medal – awarded to the winner. First given out in 1872 when the Claret Jug was not yet ready, but since awarded to all champions.
- Silver medal – awarded since 1949 to the highest finishing amateur.
- Bronze medal – awarded since 1972 to all other amateurs playing in the final round.
The Professional Golfers' Association of Great Britain and Ireland also mark the achievements of their own members in the Open.
- Ryle Memorial Medal – awarded since 1901 to the winner if he is a PGA member.
- Braid Taylor Memorial Medal – awarded since 1966 to the highest finishing PGA member.
- Tooting Bec Cup – awarded since 1924 to the PGA member who records the lowest single round during the championship.
The Braid Taylor Memorial Medal and the Tooting Bec Cup are restricted to members born in, or with a parent or parents born in, the UK or Republic of Ireland.
Tour status 
It has been an official event on the PGA Tour since 1995, which means that the prize money won in The Open by PGA Tour members is included on the official money list. In addition, all Open Championships before 1995 have been retroactively classified as PGA Tour wins, and the list of leading winners on the PGA Tour has been adjusted to reflect this. The European Tour has recognised The Open as an official event since its first official season in 1972 and it is also an official money event on the Japan Golf Tour.
Host courses 
From 1860 to 1870 the Open Championship was organised by and played at Prestwick Golf Club. From its revival in 1872 until 1891 it was played on three courses in rotation: Prestwick, The Old Course at St Andrews, and Musselburgh Links. In 1892 the newly built Muirfield replaced Musselburgh in the rotation. In 1893 two English courses, Royal St George's and Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake, were invited to join the rotation. Since then a handful of further courses have been added, and a few have been dropped.
The common factor in the venues for The Open is that they have always been links courses. The rotation has often followed the pattern of being played in Scotland and England alternately, being in Scotland somewhat more often than in England. Between 1894 (when it was first played in England) and 2012, it has been played 59 times in Scotland, 48 times in England and once in Northern Ireland. It was not until 2011 and 2012 that England hosted consecutive Opens. There is, however, no strict rule and the host is appointed by the R&A roughly five years in advance. There is a map showing the locations of the venues here. The Open has always been played in Scotland, North West England, or Kent in South East England except for a single occasion in Northern Ireland.
There are nine courses in the current rota, five in Scotland and four in England. In recent times the Old Course has hosted the Open every five years. The remaining eight courses host the Open roughly every 10 years but the gaps between hosting Opens may be longer or shorter than this.
Courses in Scotland:
- Old Course at St Andrews: In 1873 the "Home of Golf" became the second course to host the Open. Nowadays, it does so more often than any other course. Since 1990 it has been scheduled every fifth year. The 2010 Open was held at St Andrews and is scheduled again for 2015.
- Carnoustie Golf Links, Championship Course: Carnoustie first hosted The Open in 1931, and rejoined the rotation in 1999 after an absence of 24 years, and returned in 2007.
- Muirfield: This private course was built for The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, one of the trio of clubs which ran The Open in the 1870s and 1880s. It first staged The Championship in 1892, just nine months after it had been built. Muirfield last hosted in 2002 and is scheduled for 2013.
- The Turnberry Resort, Ailsa Course: A course on the southwest coast of Scotland which hosted The Open in 1977, 1986, 1994, and 2009.
- Royal Troon Golf Club, Old Course: Also in southwestern Scotland, Troon has been in the rotation since 1923 and last hosted in 2004. Royal Troon is scheduled to host the Open in 2016.
Courses in England:
- Royal St George's Golf Club: This course is in the town of Sandwich in the county of Kent in southeast England. In 1894 it became the first Open venue outside Scotland. After a 32 year absence, it returned to the rota in 1981, and last hosted in 2011.
- Royal Birkdale Golf Club: This course in northwest England has been in the rotation since 1954 and hosted The Open in 2008.
- Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club: Also in northwest England, this course first hosted The Open in 1926 but has only hosted it regularly since 1952. It hosted the 2012 Open.
- Royal Liverpool Golf Club: This course, often referred to simply as "Hoylake", joined the rotation in 1897 and hosted ten Opens up to 1967. After a 39 year absence, it returned to the rota in 2006, and is scheduled to host again in 2014.
Five courses have hosted the Open but are no longer in the rotation:
- – Prestwick Golf Club: The founder club was dropped from the rotation in 1925, by which time it had hosted twenty-four Opens.
- – Musselburgh Links: Musselburgh is a public course which was used by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. When that club built Muirfield, Musselburgh dropped out of the rotation.
- – Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club: This course in the town of Deal in Kent hosted the Open in 1909 and 1920. Although situated in Deal, the course is very close to Royal St George's in Sandwich, on the current rota. In fact, the 11th tee at Royal Cinque Ports is closer to the clubhouse at Royal St George's than it is to the clubhouse of Royal Cinque Ports.
- – Prince's Golf Club: Prince's hosted its only Open in 1932. The course is in Sandwich, Kent, and is adjacent to Royal St George's on the current rota.
- – Royal Portrush Golf Club: The 1951 Open was staged at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, the only Open not played in Scotland or England.
Future venues 
|2013||142nd||Muirfield||Gullane||East Lothian||Scotland||18–21 July|
|2014||143rd||Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake||Hoylake||Merseyside||England||17–20 July|
|2015||144th||Old Course at St Andrews||St Andrews||Fife||Scotland||16–19 July|
|2016||145th||Royal Troon Golf Club||Troon||Ayrshire||Scotland||21–24 July|
Exemptions and qualifying events 
The field for the Open is 156, and golfers may gain a place in a number of ways. Most of the field is made up of leading players who are given exemptions. Further places are given to players who are successful in "Local Qualifying" and those who come through "International Final Qualifying". Any remaining places (known as alternates) are made available to the highest ranked players in the Official World Golf Ranking.
There are currently 32 exemption categories. Among the more significant are:
- The top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking. This category means that no member of the current elite of world golf will be excluded.
- The top 30 in the previous season's European Tour Race to Dubai and the PGA Tour FedEx Cup. Most of these players will also be in the World top 50.
- All previous Open Champions who will be age 60 or under on the final day of the tournament. Each year a number of past champions choose not to compete.
- All players who have won one of the other three majors in the previous five years.
- The top 10 from the previous year's Open Championship.
- Any past Open champions who have finished in the top 10 in the previous five years.
Further exemptions are given to winners and other leading finishers in a number of important tournaments around the world, to leading money winners in the major tours and to recent Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup players. The latest winners of a few major amateur events are also given exemptions. They must remain amateurs to take advantage of this exemption.
Local Qualifying is the traditional way for non-exempt players to win a place at The Open. In 2012 it comprised fourteen 18-hole "Regional Qualifying" competitions around Britain and Ireland on 25 June with successful competitors moving on to the four 36-hole "Local Final Qualifying" tournaments on 3 July. There are currently 12 places available through Local Qualifying, though there used to be far more.
International Final Qualifying comprises five 36-hole qualifying events, one each in Africa, Australasia, Asia, America and Europe. Only players who have a rating in the Official World Golf Ranking may enter, which is a more stringent standard than for Local Qualifying. 28 places were available through International Final Qualifying in 2012. The R&A introduced International Final Qualifying in 2004 in order to make it easier for professionals from outside Britain and Ireland to compete for a place.
In 2012, 115 of the field qualified through the exemption categories, 12 through Local Qualifying, 28 through International Final Qualifying and 1 as an alternate. A further 14 players qualified through the exemption categories but did not compete in the event. This was because the players chose not to enter, dropped out for personal reason, were injured or who had qualified as amateurs but had turned professional.
Tournament name 
In Britain the tournament is best known by its official title, The Open Championship. The tournament's website uses only this name, while British media generally refer to it as the Open (with "the" in lower case).
Outside the UK, the tournament is generally called the British Open, in part to distinguish the tournament from another of the four majors that has an 'open' format, the U.S. Open, but mainly because other nations with similar 'open' format golf events refer to their own nation's open event as "the Open". The PGA Tour refers to the tournament as the British Open, as do many media outlets in the United States, though U.S. television rights-holder ESPN has taken to referring to it as The Open Championship.
- Oldest winner: Old Tom Morris (46 years, 99 days), 1867.
- Youngest winner: Young Tom Morris (17 years, 156 days), 1868.
- Most victories: 6, Harry Vardon (1896, 1898, 1899, 1903, 1911, 1914).
- Most consecutive victories: 4, Young Tom Morris (1868, 1869, 1870, 1872 – there was no championship in 1871).
- Lowest 36-hole score: 130, Nick Faldo (66-64), 1992; Brandt Snedeker (66-64), 2012.
- Lowest 72-hole score: 267, Greg Norman (66-68-69-64), 1993.
- Lowest 72-hole score in relation to par: –19, Tiger Woods (67-66-67-69, 269), 2000 (a record for all major championships).
- Greatest victory margin: 13 strokes, Old Tom Morris, 1862. This remained a record for all majors until 2000, when Woods won the U.S. Open by 15 strokes at Pebble Beach. Old Tom's 13-stroke margin was achieved over just 36 holes.
- Lowest 18-hole score: 63 – Mark Hayes, 2nd round, 1977; Isao Aoki, 3rd, 1980; Greg Norman, 2nd, 1986; Paul Broadhurst, 3rd, 1990; Jodie Mudd, 4th, 1991; Nick Faldo, 2nd, 1993; Payne Stewart, 4th, 1993; Rory McIlroy, 1st, 2010.
- Lowest 18-hole score in relation to par: –9, Paul Broadhurst, 3rd, 1990; Rory McIlroy, 1st, 2010.
There is an extensive records section on the official site.
(a) denotes amateur
PO denotes playoff
Silver Medal winners 
The Silver Medal is awarded to the leading amateur, provided that the player completes all 72 holes. The medal was first awarded in 1949.
In the 64 Championships from 1949 to 2012 it was won by 40 different golfers on 45 occasions. Frank Stranahan won it 4 times while Joe Carr and Michael Bonallack each won it twice. In 19 Championships no amateur qualified for the final round and the medal was not awarded.
Winners: 1949 Frank Stranahan, 1950 Frank Stranahan, 1951 Frank Stranahan, 1952 J.W. Jones, 1953 Frank Stranahan, 1954 Peter Toogood, 1955 Joe Conrad, 1956 Joe Carr, 1957 W.D. Smith, 1958 Joe Carr, 1959 Robert Reid Jack, 1960 Guy Wolstenholme, 1961 Ronald White, 1962 Charlie Green, 1963 Michael Burgess, 1966 Ronnie Shade, 1968 Michael Bonallack, 1969 Peter Tupling, 1970 Steve Melnyk, 1971 Michael Bonallack, 1973 Danny Edwards, 1979 Peter McEvoy, 1980 Jay Sigel, 1981 Hal Sutton, 1982 Malcolm Lewis, 1985 José María Olazábal, 1987 Paul Mayo, 1989 Russell Claydon, 1991 Jim Payne, 1992 Darren Lee, 1993 Iain Pyman, 1994 Warren Bennett, 1995 Steve Webster, 1996 Tiger Woods, 1997 Barclay Howard, 1998 Justin Rose, 2001 David Dixon, 2004 Stuart Wilson, 2005 Lloyd Saltman, 2006 Marius Thorp, 2007 Rory McIlroy, 2008 Chris Wood, 2009 Matteo Manassero, 2010 Jin Jeong, 2011 Tom Lewis
Notes and references 
- "Course guide". The Open. 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
- "Claret Jug". theopen.com. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
- "Ryle Memorial Medal". Professional Golfers' Association. Retrieved 11 August 2009.
- "Braid Taylor Memorial Medal". Professional Golfers' Association. Retrieved 11 August 2009.
- "Tooting Bec Cup". Professional Golfers' Association. Retrieved 11 August 2009.
- "Open Venues". theopen.com. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
- "Turnberry to host the 2009 Open". BBC News. 1 December 2005. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "Future Venues". theopen.com. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
- "The Open Championship Entry Form". theopen.com. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
- "Exemption Categories". theopen.com. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
- "Qualification". theopen.com. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
- "The Open Championship".
- "Birkdale 'will provide Open test'". BBC Sport. 29 April 2008.
- Spiers, Graham (20 July 2007). "The top ten best shots at the Open". The Times (London). Retrieved 25 May 2010.
- "British Open Tournament".
- Malley, Frank (24 July 2006). "Woods gives blueprint for success at British Open". SportsTicker.
- Newberry, Paul (24 July 2006). "Through the tears, Woods hoists the claret jug for the second year in a row". Associated Press.
- See Notes: Young Tom Morris gets 20 days older, pgatour.com, 1 August 2006.
- "Do You Know". theopen.com. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
- "Tom Lewis joins an elite group as Silver Medal winner". theopen.com. 17 July 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2012.