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Muirfield


(Par 71/7,245 yards) Muirfield, Gullane, East Lothian, Scotland


Victories Harry Vardon


Most 6


BRITISH OPEN


finest champion. His great friend and rival, Walter Hagen, captured the Claret Jug four times. The two men were loved by the Scots, as was Gene Sarazen, who won the championship in 1932. Sarazen would go on to become the first player to win all four major professional championships—the modern Grand Slam.


Ernie Els of South Africa during the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Sandwich, England.


GOLF’S FOUR MAJOR PROFESSIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS—the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and the PGA Championship—all have their own unique charms and appeals. But for sheer antiquity, none can match the British Open—or more exactly The Open Championship as it is known almost anyplace that isn’t the United States. It is safe to say it is considered the unofficial world championship of golf, which makes sense since when it began in 1860, (making it the game’s oldest championship) Mother England owned and operated vast portions of the world as part of her empire.


GETTING STARTED


The first Opens were gatherings of Scottish professionals who played at Prestwick for the first 12 championships. For all its considerable appeal, it fell off the rota in 1925 but it remains a charming relic of the game’s early days.


Players like Willie Park, the dominant


father-son team of Old and Young Tom Morris, Robert Ferguson and Jamie Anderson dominated the early Opens. Beginning in the early 20th century, Britain’s


126 PGA TOUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE 2013


“Great Triumvirate”—Harry Vardon, James Braid and John H. Taylor—set the standard of excellence, but in 1907 a Frenchman, Armaud Massy, won the championship. Given the sometimes-testy relations between Great Britain and France, it’s a wonder the championship was even played the following year. Vardon won the last of his record six British 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 increasingly poor health. Still, he was an enormously popular and influential player on both sides of the Atlantic.


JONES, HAGEN, SARAZEN AND THE AMERICAN INVASION Americans began to find their way into the record books in the 1920s, as the legendary amateur Robert Tyre Jones, Jr. won the championship three times, perhaps most dramatically in 1930, when he won the British Open, U.S. Open and Amateurs and then retired from competitive golf as the game’s greatest amateur and, arguably,


Players from the British Isles dominated the Open in the 1930s and World War II forced the cancellation of the championship from 1940 until 1946, the year Sam Snead won at The Old Course at St. Andrews. When he first saw the course he famously said he thought it was “an old farm that had gone to seed” and asked where the trees were. The fans loved him anyway. Ben Hogan’s win in his only appearance in the championship—1953 at Carnoustie — was one for the history books because he had won the Masters and U.S. Open earlier that year. Incidentally, he is believed to be the only truly great player never to have played or even visited The Old Course. But with the


“First of all, I feel for Adam Scott. He’s a


great friend of mine. Obviously, we both wanted to win very badly. But you know, that’s the nature of the beast. That’s why we’re out here. You win, you lose. It was my time for some reason.” – Ernie Els


exception of Hogan’s victory, the Open was dominated by South Africa’s Bobby Locke, Australia’s Peter Thomson (five victories) and the legendary South African, Gary Player.


PALMER LEADS RESURGENCE Arnold Palmer’s father, Deacon, a golf professional, instilled in his son a love for the British Open and stressed its importance. It’s only fitting then that, led by Arnold Palmer, the Americans would return to dominate in the 1960s. Palmer finished second in 1960 at


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