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July 19-22


Royal Lytham & St. Annes (Par 70 /7,118 yards) Lancashire, England


British Open


Darren Clarke lifts the famous “Claret Jug” as winner of The Open Championship.


PEOPLE AT EVERY LEVEL OF THE GAME delight in arguing the merits of the four professional major championships in an effort to determine which is the most prestigious. Not surprisingly, Americans tend to favor the


U.S. Open, which is certainly understandable since many still refer to it as our National Open. The Masters gets the votes of those who love everything about Augusta National. To them, the green jacket is the single most cherished fashion statement in sports. The PGA Championship has its boosters because


it was the first championship strictly operated by professionals, in this case the PGA of America. They also point out that it is the final major of the year and, as such, often plays a big part in determining things like Player of the Year honors. All of which brings us to the British Open, or


more precisely The Open Championship as it is known in England, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales and almost anyplace else on the planet that doesn’t happen to be the United States. For most people, it is considered the unofficial world championship, which is only fair since, when it began in 1860 (making it the game’s oldest championship), Mother England


150 PGA TOUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE 2012


actually controlled a huge swathe of the world as part of her empire.


THE EARLY YEARS The early years of the championship were essentially


competitions between both sides of the Atlantic. Scottish


professionals who met at Prestwick for the first 12 championships. For all its quirks and charms—and the old girl has many—Prestwick fell off the rota in 1925, but if you want to experience what golf was like in the early days in Scotland, it’s certainly worth a visit. The early years of the championship were dominated by the likes of Willie Park, the father-son team of Old and Young Tom Morris, Robert Ferguson and Jamie Anderson. By the turn of the 20th century, Britain’s “Great Triumvirate”— Harry Vardon, James Braid and John H. Taylor—set the bar for excellence very high and for a relatively long time, as things went in those years. Vardon won the last of his record six Open titles in 1914, the year before World War I forced the cancellation of play until 1920. Vardon also won the 1900 U.S. Open and finished second twice despite poor health. Still, he was an enormously popular and influential player on


THE AMERICAN INVASION Americans began to make their mark on the championship in the 1920s, as the great amateur Robert Tyre Jones, Jr. won the championship three times, perhaps most dramatically in 1930, when he won both the British and U.S. Opens and Amateurs and then gracefully said good-bye to competitive golf as the game’s greatest amateur and, arguably, finest champion. His great friend and rival, the irrepressible Walter Hagen, captured the Claret Jug four times. Both Jones and Hagen were loved by the Scots, as was Gene Sarazen, who won the championship in 1932. Players from the British Isles dominated the Open in the 1930s and World War II forced the


RANK 1 2 3 4 5


FEDEXCUP STANDINGS PLAYER


Nick Watney Steve Stricker K.J. Choi


Phil Mickelson Bubba Watson


POINTS 1,798 1,741 1,561 1,531 1,486


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