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Bob Ferguson

Born Musselburgh, Midlothian (1848 to 1915). This triple Open champion first made a name for himself at the age of 18 when, with a few borrowed clubs, he beat the cream of the professionals in the Leith Tournament. His 131 for four rounds of Leith’s seven holes so impressed a local admirer that he paid for new clubs which Ferguson used for the rest of his career. He took part in several challenge matches against Young Tom Morris and usually came off second best although he did once win by four holes when the pair used cleeks only.

After a few good performances in the Open, including third place in 1869, Ferguson’s first victory came at his native Musselburgh, by five strokes. His next wins, at Prestwick (in appalling weather) and St Andrews, were, with their three-stroke margins, also decisive. Could he equal Young Tom Morris by taking four in a row? He came very close. He tied Willie Fernie, finishing with three 3s, and in the 36 hole play-off was one stroke to the good standing on the last tee. Though a par 4, it was drivable that day. Ferguson got his par but Fernie sank a long putt for a 2.

A little later he contracted typhoid and played no more competitive golf. He became Custodian of the Links at Musselburgh and taught the boys of Loretto School golf. If they failed to follow his instructions he was apt to rap them across the calves with a club shaft.

Open Champions at Prestwick

Extract taken from “British Open Champions” by Michael Hobbs 1991.

Bob Ferguson