The Open Championship
|Established||1860, 155 years ago|
|Course(s)||2015: Old Course
St Andrews, Scotland
|Par||72 (in 2015)|
|Length||7,305 yd (6,680 m)
|Organized by||The R&A|
Japan Golf Tour
|Tournament record score|
|Aggregate||267 Greg Norman (1993)|
|To par||−19 Tiger Woods (2000)|
|2015 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. Held in the United Kingdom, it is administered by The R&A and is the only major outside the United States. The Open is currently the third major of the calendar year, following The Masters and the U.S. Open, and preceding the PGA Championship.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (October 2011)|
The Open 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 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. 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 trophy was available, the tournament was cancelled in 1871. In 1872, after Young Tom Morris won again for a 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. The 1894 Open was the first 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' 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 next two 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 the least of his majors, it greatly understates how prominent Nicklaus was at the Open throughout the 1960s and 1970s. He finished runner-up seven times, which is the record and 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, 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.
There have also been wins by previously little known golfers, including Paul Lawrie's playoff win after the 72nd-hole collapse of Jean van de Velde in 1999, Ben Curtis in 2003 and Todd Hamilton in 2004.
In 2007, the Europeans finally broke an eight-year drought in the majors when Pádraig Harrington of Ireland defeated Sergio García by one stroke in a four-hole playoff at Carnoustie. Harrington retained the Championship in 2008.
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.
The Open is a 72-hole stroke play tournament contested over four days, Thursday through Sunday. Currently, 156 players are in the field, mostly made up of the world's leading professionals, who are given exemptions, along with winners of the top amateur championships. Further places are given to players, amateurs and professionals, who are successful in a number of qualifying events. There is a cut after 36 holes after which only the leading 70 players (and ties) play in the final 36 holes on the weekend.
In the event of a tie after 72 holes, a four-hole aggregate playoff is held; if two or more players are still tied, it continues as sudden-death until there is a winner. The aggregate playoff format was introduced in 1986 and first used in 1989. In 1970 and 1975, the playoffs were 18-hole rounds; earlier playoffs were 36 holes, last conducted in 1963.
Since the Open moved to a Sunday finish in 1980 it has been played in the middle of July, starting on the Thursday between the 14th and 20th. It had a scheduled Saturday finish from 1966 until 1979, with the first round on Wednesday. Prior to 1966, the final two rounds were scheduled for Friday, and before 1926, the four rounds were played in two days.
Trophies and medals
There are a number of medals and trophies that are, or have been, given for various achievements during The Open.
- The Challenge Belt – awarded to the winner from 1860 until 1870, when Young Tom Morris won the belt outright by winning the Championship three years in a row.
- The Golf Champion Trophy (commonly known as the Claret Jug) – replaced the Challenge Belt and has been awarded to the winner since 1873 although Young Tom Morris, the winner in 1872, is the first name engraved on it.
- Gold medal – awarded to the winner. First given out in 1872 when the Claret Jug was not yet ready, and since awarded to all champions.
- Silver medal – awarded since 1949 to the leading amateur completing the final round.
- Bronze medal – awarded since 1972 to all other amateurs completing 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.
From 1860 to 1870 The Open 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 with Royal St George's being allocated the 1894 Open and Royal Liverpool having the 1897 event. At a meeting in 1907 Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club became the sixth course on the rota, being allocated the 1909 Open. With three courses in both England and Scotland, the meeting also agreed that the Championship was to be played in England and Scotland alternately. The alternation of venues in England and Scotland continued until the Second World War.
The rotation of the six courses was reinstated after the First World War with Royal Cinque Ports hosting the first post-war Open in 1920. It had been chosen as the venue for the cancelled 1915 Open. In 1923 Troon was used instead of Muirfield when "some doubts exists as to the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers being desirous of their course being used for the event". Muirfield returned as the venue in 1929. Serious overcrowding problems at Prestwick in 1925 meant that the course was never again used for the Open and was replaced by Carnoustie as the third Scottish course. While Royal St George's and Royal Liverpool continued to be used at six year intervals the third English course varied. After Royal Cinque Ports in 1920, Royal Lytham was used in 1926 and then Prince's in 1932. Royal Cinque Ports was intended as the venue in 1938 but in February of that year abnormal high tides caused severe flooding to the course leaving it like "an inland sea several feet deep" and the venue was switched to Royal St George's. Birkdale was chosen as the venue for 1940, although the event was cancelled because of the Second World War.
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. In 2014, it was announced by The R&A that Royal Portrush would be returning to the active rotation, possibly in 2019.
From 1894 (when it was first played in England) to 2014, it has been played 60 times in Scotland, 49 times in England and once in Northern Ireland. It was not until 2011 and 2012 that England hosted consecutive Opens.
|2015||144th||Old Course at St Andrews||St Andrews||Fife||Scotland||16–19 July||2010|
|2016||145th||Royal Troon Golf Club||Troon||Ayrshire||Scotland||14–17 July||2004|
|2017||146th||Royal Birkdale Golf Club||Southport||Merseyside||England||20–23 July||2008|
|2018||147th||Carnoustie Golf Links||Carnoustie||Angus||Scotland||19–22 July||2007|
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 The Open Qualifying Series. Any remaining places (known as alternates) are made available to the highest ranked players in the Official World Golf Ranking two weeks before The Open.
There are currently 26 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.
- The winners of The Amateur Championship and the U.S. Amateur (provided the winners maintain their amateur status prior to the tournament).
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.
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.
For 2014, qualifying was dramatically changed. Ten events from the various tours (PGA, Sunshine, European, Japan, Asian, Australasian) known as the Open Qualifying Series replace International Final Qualifying.
In Britain the tournament is best known by its official title, The Open Championship. The British media generally refer to it as the Open (with "the" in lower case)  or as The Open Championship (with each word capitalized).
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". Until 2014, the PGA Tour referred to the tournament as the British Open, and many American media outlets continue to do so. However, in 2014, with the new Open Qualifying Series that selects players for the Open through finishes earned in various PGA Tour events, the PGA Tour has taken to referring to the event as The Open Championship for the first time. U.S. television rights-holder ESPN/ABC referred to the event as the British Open until 2004. For the 2005 event at St Andrews, ESPN/ABC began referring to the tournament as The Open Championship, and have done so ever since.
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.
The 2014 Open had a total prize money fund of £5.4 million and a first prize of £975,000. At the time of the Open these equated to about $9.2 million and $1.666 million respectively. The other three major championships in 2014 had prize money of $9 or $10 million and first prizes of $1.62 or $1.8 million, so that all four majors had broadly similar 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 £5.4 million).
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 keeping the belt for a year. Old Tom Morris won the first champion's cash prize of £6 in 1864.
- Oldest winner: Old Tom Morris ( 46 years, 102 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.
- Wire-to-wire winners (after 72 holes with no ties after rounds): Ted Ray in 1912, Bobby Jones in 1927, Gene Sarazen in 1932, Henry Cotton in 1934, Tom Weiskopf in 1973, Tiger Woods in 2005, and Rory McIlroy in 2014.
(a) denotes amateur
"Dates" column includes all days on which play took place or was planned to take place, including any playoffs
Silver Medal winners
Since 1949, the Silver Medal is awarded to the leading amateur, provided that the player completes all 72 holes. In the 66 Championships from 1949 to 2014, it has been won by 42 players on 48 occasions. Frank Stranahan won it four times in the first five years (and was also the low amateur in 1947), while Joe Carr, Michael Bonallack and Peter McEvoy each won it twice. The medal has gone unawarded 18 times.
- 1949 – Frank Stranahan
- 1950 – Frank Stranahan (2)
- 1951 – Frank Stranahan (3)
- 1952 – Jackie Jones
- 1953 – Frank Stranahan (4)
- 1954 – Peter Toogood
- 1955 – Joe Conrad
- 1956 – Joe Carr
- 1957 – W.D. Smith
- 1958 – Joe Carr (2)
- 1959 – Robert Reid Jack
- 1960 – Guy Wolstenholme
- 1961 – Ronald White
- 1962 – Charlie Green
- 1963 – none
- 1964 – none
- 1965 – Michael Burgess
- 1966 – Ronnie Shade
- 1967 – none
- 1968 – Michael Bonallack
- 1969 – Peter Tupling
- 1970 – Steve Melnyk
- 1971 – Michael Bonallack (2)
- 1972 – none
- 1973 – Danny Edwards
- 1974 – none
- 1975 – none
- 1976 – none
- 1977 – none
- 1978 – Peter McEvoy
- 1979 – Peter McEvoy (2)
- 1980 – Jay Sigel
- 1981 – Hal Sutton
- 1982 – Malcolm Lewis
- 1983 – none
- 1984 – none
- 1985 – José María Olazábal
- 1986 – none
- 1987 – Paul Mayo
- 1988 – Paul Broadhurst
- 1989 – Russell Claydon
- 1990 – none
- 1991 – Jim Payne
- 1992 – Darren Lee
- 1993 – Iain Pyman
- 1994 – Warren Bennett
- 1995 – Steve Webster
- 1996 – Tiger Woods
- 1997 – Barclay Howard
- 1998 – Justin Rose
- 1999 – none
- 2000 – none
- 2001 – David Dixon
- 2002 – none
- 2003 – none
- 2004 – Stuart Wilson
- 2005 – Lloyd Saltman
- 2006 – Marius Thorp
- 2007 – Rory McIlroy
- 2008 – Chris Wood
- 2009 – Matteo Manassero
- 2010 – Jin Jeong
- 2011 – Tom Lewis
- 2012 – none
- 2013 – Matthew Fitzpatrick
- 2014 – none
Notes and references
- "Claret Jug". theopen.com. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
- "Ryle Memorial Medal" (PDF). Professional Golfers' Association. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
- "Braid Taylor Memorial Medal" (PDF). Professional Golfers' Association. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
- "Tooting Bec Cup" (PDF). Professional Golfers' Association. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
- "The Open Golf Championship". The Times. 10 July 1893. p. 7.
- "The Open Championship". The Times. 18 November 1907. p. 12.
- "The Golf Championship - Official announcement". The Times. 14 April 1915. p. 16.
- "The Championships". The Times. 22 May 1922. p. 22.
- "Gales and snow - Damage on east coast - Widespread flooding". The Times. 14 February 1938. p. 12.
- "Golf - The Open and Amateur Championships - New Conditions". The Times. 12 February 1938. p. 4.
- "Golf Championships for 1940". The Times. 21 January 1939. p. 4.
- "The Open: Press conference confirms Royal Portrush". BBC News. 16 June 2014. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
- "Future Venues". theopen.com. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
- "The Open Championship – Entry Form" (PDF). theopen.com. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- "Exemption Categories". theopen.com. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
- "Qualification". theopen.com. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
- "Exemptions". Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- "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.
- "Notes: Young Tom Morris gets 20 days older". PGA Tour. 1 August 2006. Archived from the original on 5 August 2006.
- "Did you know number 50". The Open Championship. Archived from the original on 25 November 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
- "Tom Lewis joins an elite group as Silver Medal winner". theopen.com. 17 July 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2012.