The Open Championship - some interesting facts

The 2022 Open Championship on the Old Course in St Andrews is the 150th Championship of this, the original Major.

As this is 2022 from the long history of The Open, here, in no particular order, are 22 interesting facts about the Open Championship and a few weather stories as well.

  • While 5 golfers have won The Open 5 times - James Braid, JH Taylor, Peter Thomson and Tom Watson - only one golfer, Harry Vardon, won The Open on 6 occasions. Vardon's final victory was at Prestwick in 1914.

  • The first Open was held at Prestwick in 1860. 8 competitors took part.

  • The first money prize was in 1864, when Old Tom Morris received the grand sum of £6.

  • When Greg Norman won at Turnberry in 1986, he had been leading all the majors that year after 54 holes, but the only one he won was The Open.

  • The first 33 Open Championships were held in Scotland, between Prestwick, Muirfield, St Andrews and Musselburgh Links.

  • The Open was originally a 3 round tournament, of 3 rounds of 12 holes, played in a single day.

  • Severiano Ballesteros was the youngest winner in the 20th century at Royal Birkdale in 1979 at the age of 22.

  • The first Open to be held in England was at Royal St George's in 1894, which was won by JH Taylor.

  • Play-offs were originally over 36 holes. The first 18 hole play-off was in 1970 at St Andrews between Jack Nicklaus and Doug Sanders.
  • The 12th hole at Royal Troon Championship course
  • The first 4 hole play-off was in 1989 at Royal Troon when Mark Calcavecchia won in a 3 way play-off against Greg Norman and Wayne Grady.

  • The first Open to have an exhibition tent was Deal in 1907.

  • Young Tom Morris was the only person to win The Open 4 times in a row, between 1868 and 1872. Peter Thomson of Australia won 3 times in a row between 1954 and 1956.

  • The Claret Jug was first presented in 1873, but the first name on it was Tom Morris Jnr, who had won the previous year.

  • 1892, at Muirfield, was the first time 72 holes were played and the first Open Championship to take place over 2 days.

  • The first time a cut was used was in the 1898 Open at Prestwick, after 36 holes. Only 41 players went on to play after the first two rounds.

  • The first time gate money was charged was at Royal Lytham and St Annes in 1926, it was to try and control spectator numbers. It was also the first 3 day Open, won by Bobby Jones.

  • In order to encourage the Scottish professionals to play at the first Open in England in 1894 at Royal St Georges, reduced rail fares were negotiated for them. The 94 starters that year was a record.

  • Dunlop called their best selling golf ball the '65' in honour of Henry Cotton's then record score of 65 in the second round of his win at Royal St George's in 1934.

  • 36 holes were played on the 3rd day of the tournament from 1926 till 1966, when the first 4 day Open Championship was held at Muirfield, running from Wednesday to Saturday.

  • The first Thursday to Sunday tournament was the 1980 Open at Muirfield.

  • Tom Watson won The Open on his debut at Carnoustie in 1975, after a play-off with Jack Newton, the last 18 hole play-off. This was the first of 5 wins in a 9 year period for Watson.
  • The 3rd hole at the Carnoustie Championship course
  • When Gary Player won at Carnoustie in 1968 he eagled the par 5 14th hole on both of the his last two rounds, despite playing in to the teeth of a gale in the final round.

The weather at The Open can bring all sorts of surprises, even though it's a summer event.

  • At Royal Liverpool in 1936 there was snow during the practice rounds - in June.

  • In 1938 at Royal St George's there were huge storms on the final day which ripped apart the Exhibition Tent, the largest ever at an Open Championship, and debris scattered all over the course.

  • 1977 was not the only sun baked Open but became known as the Duel in the Sun for the fierce, but incredibly good natured, competition between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.

  • 1988 at Royal Lytham and St Annes was the first time The Open finished on a Monday due to torrential rain washing out play on the Saturday.

  • Our favourite weather story from The Open is from the 1910 Championship at St Andrews. The first round was interrupted by a severe thunderstorm and the course was flooded. Informed on the 13th hole that the round was cancelled, James Braid, the eventual winner, kept playing just in case the news was wrong. He used a heavy ball so that his putts sank into the hole, while other golfers watched their balls float away in the puddles.

And finally:

  • You may call it The British Open, to distinguish the Championship from events in other countries, but the official name of this, the original, is The Open Championship, often shortened to The Open. It predates the first US Open by 35 years.

Further Information:

Published: 17 June 2022