Open Champions At Prestwick Golf Club
In 1860, Willie Park of Musselburgh triumphed over Old Tom Morris by two strokes to claim the first Open Championship. On that occasion, eight players contested for the title. A year later, Old Tom prevailed over Park and 16 others, so beginning an epic rivalry between the two that would dominate the Open Championship for the next seven years with Old Tom winning a further three times and Willie Park twice (Park also won the Open Championship again in 1875).
The Morris name also prevailed in 1868 but this time it was Old Tom’s son Tommy. He repeated the feat in 1869 and 1870 thereby earning him the Morocco leather belt outright for three consecutive wins.
When Tommy won again at Prestwick in 1872 (there was no Open Championship in 1871), the club was joined by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers in hosting the tournament and also paying for a new trophy; the famous Claret Jug (which cost £30).
Twelve years later, Jack Simpson lifted the jug after completing two rounds of 18 holes. It was the first time the Open Championship at Prestwick had been staged over this duration following the introduction of a new 18-hole lay-out in 1882.
In 1893, Prestwick witnessed its first Open Championship over 72 holes with the £30 winning prize money being collected by Willie Auchterlonie. Other notable Prestwick winners include John Ball Jr; the first amateur to win the Open Championship in 1890, Harry Vardon; who holds the record with six wins of which three were at Prestwick in 1898, 1903 and 1914; and James Braid in 1908.
Prestwick’s final Open Championship was held in 1925 when the size (and enthusiasm) of the crowd, estimated at 15,000, were as noteworthy as the result. Local favourite Macdonald Smith (an expatriate Scot based in the US) started the final round knowing that a 78 would be good enough to win. However, he slumped to an 82 to finish fourth, losing out to the eventual winner Jim Barnes who also lived in the US but was in fact a Cornishman by birth. Bernard Darwin described how the crowd influenced the occasion: “They wanted the Scotsman to win and all that was wrong was that too many of them wanted it too much.”
|1860||Willie Park, Sr (Musselburgh)||174|
|1861||Tom Morris, Sr (Prestwick)||163|
|1862||Tom Morris, Sr (Prestwick)||163|
|1863||Willie Park, Sr (Musselburgh)||168|
|1864||Tom Morris, Sr (Prestwick)||167|
|1865||Andrew Strath (St. Andrews)||162|
|1866||Willie Park, Sr (Musselburgh)||169|
|1867||Tom Morris, Sr (Prestwick)||170|
|1868||Tom Morris, Jr (St. Andrews)||154|
|1869||Tom Morris, Jr (St. Andrews)||157|
|1870||Tom Morris, Jr (St. Andrews)||149|
|1872||Tom Morris, Jr (St. Andrews)||166|
|1875||Willie Park, Sr (Musselburgh)||166|
|1878||Jamie Anderson (St. Andrews)||157|
|1881||Bob Ferguson (St. Andrews)||170|
|1884||Jack Simpson (Elie)||160|
|1887||Willie Park, Jr (Musselburgh)||161|
|1890||John Ball (Hoylake)||164|
|1893||Willie Auchterlonie (St. Andrews)||322|
|1925||Jim Barnes (USA)||300|