- The Open Championship
The Open Championship Tournament information Location United Kingdom Established 1860 Course(s) 2011 - Royal St George's
Par 70 in 2011 Length 7,211 yd (6,594 m) in 2011 Tour(s) PGA Tour
Japan Golf Tour
Format Stroke play Prize fund £5,000,000 in 2011 Month played July Tournament record score Aggregate 267 Greg Norman (1993) To par -19* Tiger Woods (2000)
*record for all majors
Current champion Darren Clarke - 2011 2011 Open Championship
The Open Championship, or simply The Open (sometimes referred to as the British Open outside the United Kingdom), is the oldest of the four major championships in professional golf. It is the only "major" held outside the USA and is administered by The R&A, which is the governing body of golf outside the USA and Mexico. The Open is played on the weekend of the third Friday in July. It is the third major to take place each year, following The Masters and the U.S. Open, but preceding the PGA Championship. The current champion is Darren Clarke who won the 2011 Open Championship.
The event takes place every year on one of nine links courses in Scotland or England (the event has been held once in Northern Ireland, but Royal Portrush is no longer on the rotation). In 2011, The Open will have a prize fund of £5.0 million, with £900,000 going to the winner, an increase of £150,000 over the previous three years. Historically, The Open's prize money was consistently the least of the four majors; but from 2002 to 2008 it was the highest.
The event is a 72-hole stroke play tournament with a cut after the first 36 holes limited to the top 70 players and ties. Uniquely among the four major championships, the Open features a four-hole playoff for all golfers tied at the end of regulation, with the playoff continuing into sudden death holes if players remain tied after four holes. (The PGA uses a similar three-hole playoff.)
The Open Championship was first played on 17 October 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club, in Ayrshire, Scotland. The inaugural tournament was restricted to professionals, and attracted a field of eight Scottish golfers, who played three rounds of Prestwick's twelve-hole course in a single day. Willie Park Senior 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 Champion's 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 Champions Belt was retired in 1870, when Young Tom Morris was allowed to keep it for winning the tournament three consecutive times. Due to having no prize, 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 Golf Club 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, Fred Daly of Northern Ireland was victorious. While there have been many English and Scottish champions, Daly was the only winner from Ireland until the 2007 victory by the Republic's 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 nine 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. This tally of three wins is not very remarkable, and indeed he won all of the other three majors more often, but it greatly understates how prominent he was at the tournament throughout the 1960s and 1970s. He finished in the top five 16 times, which is tied most in Open history with John Henry Taylor and easily the most in the postwar era. This included seven second places, which is the record. Nicklaus 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 aging Jack Nicklaus waved farewell to the crowds, while the young challenger to his crown watched from a nearby tee; Nicklaus afterward decided to play in the 2005 Open 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. 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 win, Watson bogeyed, setting up a four-hole playoff, which he would lose by six shots to Stewart Cink. In 2010, Rory McIlroy set a new record for best opening round of an Open Championship, shooting a 9-under-par 63 at St Andrews.
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.
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.
From 1860–70, The Open Championship was organised by and played at Prestwick Golf Club. Since it was revived in 1872 after a lapse of one year, it has always been played at a number of courses in rotation. Initially there were three courses in the rotation, namely Prestwick, St Andrews, and Musselburgh. In 1893 Royal St George's and Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake were invited to join the rotation. Since then a handful of further clubs 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. In more recent times the rotation has generally followed the pattern of being played in Scotland and England alternately. The general interruption to this pattern is the Old Course at St Andrews, which hosts the event every five years or so. There is, however, no strict rule and the host is appointed by the R&A around five years in advance. There is a map showing the locations of the venues here (there are thirteen dots for the fourteen courses; two of the courses are in the town of Sandwich). The Open is usually played in Scotland, North West England, or Kent in South East England. It has never been played in Wales, and it has only been played in Northern Ireland once.
Opens held in the years from 1987 until 2011, were played at venues which followed a course rotation, with the rota (for years ending in):
- (0,5) – – Scotland – (Old Course at St Andrews, every fifth year)
- (1,6) – – England
- (2,7) – – Scotland
- (3,8) – – England
- (4,9) – – Scotland
2012, 2013 and 2014 do not follow this pattern, reversing the countries.
England will host consecutive Opens for the first time in 2011 and 2012.
There are nine courses in the current rota, St Andrews, plus another four in Scotland and four in England:
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.
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, and entered the rotation in 1952. It is scheduled to host the 2012 Open, which will be the first time that consecutive Opens will be held outside Scotland since 1952, and the first time ever for consecutive Opens in England.
- 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.
Courses which 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.
Exemptions and qualifying events
The field for the Open is 156, and golfers may gain a place in three ways. Around two thirds of the field is made up of leading players who are given exemptions. The rest of the field is made up of players who were successful in "Local Qualifying" and those who came through "International Qualifying".
There are over thirty exemption categories. Among the more significant are:
- The top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking. This key sweep up category means that no member of the current elite of world golf will be excluded.
- The top 30 in the previous season's PGA Tour money list and European Tour Race to Dubai (which replaced the Order of Merit starting in 2009). Most but not all 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.
- 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.
Among other things, the additional exemption categories ensure that the six largest regular (i.e., under-50) men's tours are represented, and that there are some amateur competitors. Full details of all the exemption categories for the 2009 Open can be found here. Effective with the 2010 Open, The R&A added a new exemption category in direct response to the high finishes of Greg Norman, then 53, in 2008 (tied for third) and Tom Watson, at the time nearly 60, in 2009 (lost a playoff). A past Open champion who finishes in the top 10, including ties, will be exempt for the following five years. This new exemption will not currently affect Norman, who will still be under 60 when it expires, but will allow Watson to play in The Open until 2014 if he so chooses.
Local Qualifying is the traditional way for non-exempt players to win a place at The Open. It comprises sixteen 18-hole "Regional Qualifying" competitions around Britain and Ireland a week and a half before the event, with successful competitors moving on to the four 36-hole "Local Final Qualifying" tournaments a few days later. There are now twelve places available through Local Qualifying, though there used to be far more.
Local Qualifying is open to players from all over the world, and it used to attract some big names. In order to make it easier for professionals from outside Britain and Ireland to compete for a place, the R&A introduced International Qualifying in 2004. This 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. Thirty-six places are available in International Qualifying. Eligible players may choose whether to enter local qualifying or international qualifying, but they may not enter both. For full details on qualification see here.
In Britain, the tournament is best known by its official title, The Open Championship. The tournament's website uses only this name, while UK media generally refer to 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. TV 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, 181 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 absolute 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).
- Norman's 1993 score was −13. Par at Royal St George's, the site of the 1993 Open, was 70, as opposed to the par 72 of The Old Course at St Andrews, the 2000 site. The to-par record broken by Woods was not held by Norman, but by Nick Faldo, who shot −18 at The Old Course in 1990.
- 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. However, 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 here.
(a) denotes amateur
PO denotes playoff
Multiple and consecutive champions
This table lists the golfers who have won more than one Open Championship. H denotes a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Deceased golfer † Career Grand Slam winners ‡ Deceased Career Grand Slam winners ∞
- Bolded years and player names means back-to-back wins or a three-peat or four-peat winners and players who accomplished the feat.
- (a) denotes amateur golfer
- NC denotes No-Competition in 1871.
Rank Nation Wins Winners T1 Scotland 41 22 United States 41 26 3 England 22 13 T4 Australia 9 4 South Africa 9 4 6 Jersey 7 2 7 Spain 3 1 T8 Ireland 2 1 Northern Ireland 2 2 T10 Argentina 1 1 France 1 1 New Zealand 1 1 Zimbabwe 1 1
Year Edition Course Town County Country Dates 2012 141st Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club Lytham St Annes Lancashire England July 19–22 2013 142nd Muirfield Gullane East Lothian Scotland July 18–21 2014 143rd Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake Hoylake Merseyside England July 17–20 2015 144th Old Course at St Andrews St Andrews Fife Scotland July 16-19
Notes and references
- ^ The R&A announce increase in Prize Money for 150th Anniversary Open
- ^ "The Open Championship – More Scottish than British". PGA Tour official website. http://www.pgatour.com/2007/travel/07/16/trans_071607/index.html. Retrieved 2008-12-05. "When the very first Open Championship was held in 1860, it was an entirely Scottish affair."
- ^ "Claret Jug". opengolf.com. http://www.opengolf.com/ChampionshipGolf/TheOpenChampionship/History/ClaretJug.aspx. Retrieved 2009-08-11.
- ^ "Ryle Memorial Medal". Professional Golfers' Association. http://www.pga.info/PGAHonourRolls/40867683.htm. Retrieved 2009-08-11.
- ^ "Braid Taylor Memorial Medal". Professional Golfers' Association. http://www.pga.info/PGAHonourRolls/40867680.htm. Retrieved 2009-08-11.
- ^ "Tooting Bec Cup". Professional Golfers' Association. http://www.pga.info/PGAHonourRolls/40867684.htm. Retrieved 2009-08-11.
- ^ Turnberry to host the 2009 Open
- ^ Before 2009, these tours—specifically the U.S. PGA, European, Japan, Asian, Australasia, and Sunshine Tours—were the six full members of the trade body of the main professional men's tours, the International Federation of PGA Tours. In 2009, the Federation expanded to include 11 new members, including all six of the world's major women's tours.
- ^ Harig, Bob (2009-11-16). "Exemption applies to past Open champs". ESPN.com. http://sports.espn.go.com/golf/britishopen10/news/story?id=4659267. Retrieved 2009-11-17.
- ^ 
- ^ 
- ^ "The Open Championship". http://www.opengolf.com/.
- ^ "Birkdale 'will provide Open test'". BBC Sport. 29 April 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/golf/7373852.stm.
- ^ Spiers, Graham (20 July 2007). "The top ten best shots at the Open". London: The Times. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/golf/article2108750.ece. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
- ^ "British Open Tournament". http://www.pgatour.com/r/schedule/.
- ^ Malley, Frank (2006-07-24). "Woods gives blueprint for success at British Open". SportsTicker. http://sports.yahoo.com/golf/pga/news?slug=britishopen&prov=st&type=lgns.
- ^ Newberry, Paul (2006-07-24). "Through the tears, Woods hoists the claret jug for the second year in a row". Associated Press. http://sports.yahoo.com/golf/pga/news?slug=ap-britishopen&prov=ap&type=lgns.
- ^ Some sources still give 17 years, 5 months and 8 days (or 17 years, 161 days), but his birth certificate was discovered in 2006. See Notes: Young Tom Morris gets 20 days older, pgatour.com, 1 August 2006.
- ^ OpenGolf.com - Future venues
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